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Press release from PR Newswire

Comcast, U.S. Congressman Lewis, U.S. Congressman Johnson, State School Superintendent Barge, Atlanta City Council President Mitchell, And Partners Kick Off Year Two Of Groundbreaking Internet Essentials Program To Help Close The Digital Divide

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Comcast, U.S. Congressman Lewis, U.S. Congressman Johnson, State School Superintendent Barge, Atlanta City Council President Mitchell, And Partners Kick Off Year Two Of Groundbreaking Internet Essentials Program To Help Close The Digital Divide09:00 EDT Thursday, August 16, 2012Nationally, Nearly 100,000 Families or 400,000 Low-Income Americans Have Signed Up; Atlanta Increases Program Participants with Nearly 6,000 Families Now Online; Comcast Commits $160,000 in Grants to Metro Atlanta ProgramsATLANTA, Aug. 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen, U.S. Congressman John Lewis, U.S. Congressman Hank Johnson, Georgia State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge and Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell today announced year two of Internet Essentials, an ambitious and comprehensive broadband adoption program designed to help close the digital divide for low-income Americans.  In its first full year of availability, nearly 100,000 families or 400,000 Americans gained access to the Internet at home.  Comcast continues to enhance the program with new features and processes designed to accelerate enrollment in the program.  Atlanta has experienced the second-highest achieved enrollment with nearly 6,000 families now enrolled in the Internet Essentials program.  Atlanta's total to date is second only to Chicago since the program's launch in August 2011.  Cohen announced a renewed commitment of $160,000 in grants to Atlanta area programs during Digital Rally events held across metro Atlanta today.  To ensure digital literacy success in the Latin American community, Comcast announced a one-year partnership at Sequoyah Middle School with the Latin American Association to provide computers for students at home, putting technology in the hands of students to support their education. Comcast presented a $12,500 grant and the LAA will raise a matching $12,500 for a total of a $25,000 commitment to the community.  At the Center for Pan Asian Community Services, the Comcast Foundation committed a $25,000 investment to upgrade the Center's computer lab and an additional $25,000 grant to fund the 2012-2013 Digital Connectors program.  At Carver High School, the Digital Literacy Pep Rally featured students positively impacted by the Internet Essentials program.  Lastly, the Comcast Foundation announced a $25,000 fund for the Digital Connectors program at Samuel L. Jones Boys & Girls Club and a $60,000 Club Tech Grant to Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta during a program at the Warren/Holyfield Boys and Girls Club.  The event recognized Brandon Maldonado, a local Boys & Girls Club member whose video game titled "Bi-Pedal" was recently awarded top honors at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America's National Digital Arts Festival.David L. Cohen, Comcast Corporation Executive Vice President, said, "I'd like to thank U.S. Congressman Lewis, U.S. Congressman Johnson, State School Superintendent Dr. Barge, Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell and all of the school administrations and community organizations that have joined Comcast in making the first year of Internet Essentials such a success in Atlanta. Due to our integrated efforts, thousands of students and families in metro Atlanta are now able to utilize all of the resources the Internet has to offer in their own homes, from researching historical or scientific facts for a school presentation, to applying for jobs that will expand the region's workforce and provide increased opportunities for parents and their children.""As our daily lives increasingly depend on the digital realm, it is imperative that we have quality programs such as Comcast's Internet Essentials in place to ensure that no student and no family are without broadband access and impacted by the digital divide," said Dr. John Barge, Georgia State School Superintendent.  "I'm proud to pledge my support to this program on behalf of Georgia's schools as we work together to provide our youth with the technology necessary to maximize education and produce a generation of highly-skilled leaders that will be able to compete in the global marketplace.""I'm very enthused by the progress made towards closing Atlanta's digital divide during the first year of Internet Essentials, and I anticipate that we will make even greater strides towards increased broadband adoption as the program continues into its second year," said Atlanta City Council President Mitchell. "It is crucial that we remain committed to getting computer and Internet access into the home of every student and family in Atlanta, regardless of income level. We need all of our city's schools, educators, community leaders and government officials to join in making broadband adoption a top priority, so that our children can receive the best education and opportunities possible."New in 2012:Since Internet Essentials launched, Comcast has made a number of program enhancements including:Expanded eligibility criteria to include families with children eligible to receive reduced price school lunches under the National School Lunch Program.  This means nearly 300,000 additional households are now eligible for the program, bringing the total to 2.3 million eligible families; Doubled broadband speeds to up to 3 Mbps downstream and up to 768 Kbps upstream; Upgraded the free Internet safety software to include the Constant Guard Protection Suite, which includes top-rated Norton Security Suite, identity theft protection and more; Enriched digital literacy training efforts both online and in-person, including offering a series of short videos, featuring NBC and Telemundo news personalities Al Roker, Kate Snow, Jenna Wolfe and Jose Diaz-Balart, discussing how to use job search tools and social networking site as well as tips for what parents should know about cyber bullying; Streamlined the approval process by providing an instant approval process for all students who attend schools with the highest percentage of NSLP participation, which includes Provision 2 schools; Introduced a bulk order program that empowers community-based organizations to purchase Internet Essentials accounts so they can connect the eligible families they serve. Internet Essentials Program Details:Internet Essentials addresses three primary barriers to broadband adoption that research has identified ? a lack of understanding of how the Internet is relevant and useful, the cost of a home computer and the cost of the Internet service.  Program participants receive: Residential Internet service for $9.95 a month plus applicable taxes; No price increases, no activation fees, or equipment rental fees; A voucher to purchase a low-cost computer for $149.99 plus tax; and Access to free digital literacy training in print, online and in-person.A household is eligible to participate if it meets all of the following criteria: Is located where Comcast offers Internet service; Has at least one child who is eligible to receive a free or reduced school lunch under the NSLP; Has not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days; Does not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment.Comcast will sign up eligible families in the program for at least three years, through the end of the 2013-2014 school year.  Any household that qualifies during this three-year period will remain eligible for Internet Essentials if at least one child eligible for a free or reduced lunch remains living in the household.  In Atlanta, Comcast is working with the Georgia Department of Education and a growing network of community-based organizations to spread the word about Internet Essentials and provide digital literacy training.  Those organizations include the Latin American Association, the Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Association, the Latin American Chamber of Commerce, the Center for Pan Asian Community Services, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, Urban League of Metro Atlanta and 100 Black Men of Atlanta.The following school districts in metro Atlanta have partnered with Comcast and have agreed to educate eligible families about the program, including:  Atlanta Public Schools; Cherokee County; City Schools of Decatur; Cobb County; DeKalb County; Douglas County; Fayette County; Forsyth County; Fulton County; Gwinnett County; Paulding County; Rockdale County and Walton County.For general information about Internet Essentials, please visit www.internetessentials.com for English and visit www.internetbasico.com for Spanish. Educators or third-parties interested in helping to spread the word can find more information at www.internetessentials.com/partner. Parents looking to enroll in the program can call 1-855-846-8376 or, for Spanish, 1-855-765-6995. About Comcast Corporation:Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) (www.comcast.com) is one of the nation's leading providers of entertainment, information and communications products and services. Comcast is principally involved in the operation of cable systems through Comcast Cable and in the development, production and distribution of entertainment, news, sports and other content for global audiences through NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is one of the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential and business customers. Comcast is the majority owner and manager of NBCUniversal, which owns and operates entertainment and news cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, local television station groups, television production operations, a major motion picture company and theme parks. SOURCE Comcast CorporationFor further information: Garet Hayes, Hope Beckham, ghayes@hopebeckham.com, +1-404-604-2602; or Andy Macke, Comcast, Andy_Macke@cable.comcast.com, +1-770-559-2768