This article about affordable Internet access for New Jersey families through Internet Essentials was sponsored by Comcast.
The school year is starting. Before I know it my kids will start coming home with homework assignments, assignments that require them to be online. There are math and language arts drills to be practiced online. Homework assignments that have to be submitted using Google Docs. Parent notices and forms that can only be read through an online school portal. You would think that with all the time I spend online this wouldn’t bother me… but it does. Each time my kids or I am required to do something online to help them succeed at school I become increasingly bothered by one overwhelming thought.
What do families without internet access do? What do families that can’t afford wifi do?
Smartphones can be great but have you ever tried to get into Google docs from an iPhone? Can your kids really see a full math problem with charts on the small screen of a tablet? Wifi wifi wifi… yes it’s available from more places than ever before.. but a table at a fast food restaurant is not an ideal environment for a child that needs to be studying online for a big exam.
Internet Essentials provides affordable Internet access for NJ families
This digital divide, this not being able to have all students on a level playing field has been weighing on me for the last few years. As my kids move from grade school to middle school to high school, it’s becoming increasingly important that they have access to wifi at home and that we find a way they can all be online at the same time. My tween and teen were both blessed with Chromebooks as birthday gifts. It’s been a huge help because the alternative was not great. Three boys sharing a computer for homework time in between the time they got home from school and bedtime and with sports thrown in… it just wasn’t easy. Now imagine not having a computer at all.
Did you know?
According to the U.S. Census American Community Survey, 81 percent of all U.S. households subscribe to broadband at home, but only 63 percent of households with an annual income of less than $35,000 do.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of Comcast. Together with spokespersons U.S. Olympic Gold Medalists Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando I was introduced to Internet Essentials, a program through Comcast that provides affordable Internet access and low cost computers to low-income families within the Comcast service area in New Jersey and across the country.
About Internet Essentials
Internet Essentials is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive high-speed Internet adoption program for low-income households. It provides low-cost Internet service for $9.95 a month; the option to purchase an Internet-ready computer for less than $150; and access to free digital literacy training. Comcast has now connected more than six million low-income Americans to the Internet through its Internet Essentials program.
To attack the problem of the digital divide, Internet Essentials has an integrated, wrap-around design meant to address each of the three major barriers to broadband adoption that research has identified. These include: a lack of digital literacy skills, the lack of a computer, and the absence of a low-cost Internet service. The program is also structured as a partnership between Comcast and tens of thousands of school districts, libraries, elected officials, and nonprofit community partners.
Internet Essentials achievements
- Comcast connected more than two million people in the last year alone, which is the largest annual increase in the program’s history.
- Since 2011, Comcast has invested more than half a billion dollars to support digital literacy training and awareness, reaching more than 8.5 million low-income Americans.
- More than 85,000 heavily subsidized computers have been sold to families in need.
- 93% of Internet Essentials customers see their child’s grades improve with affordable Internet access at home.
- 62% of customers also say having Internet service helped them find a job.
“This program has had an enormous impact on millions of families and children who now have high-speed Internet at home, many for the first time in their lives,” Cohen told us. He added when talking about Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando’s involvement, “Their legacy story will be their commitment to giving back.” The twins shared with us how they didn’t have Internet access till the 6th grade and even then they had to wait till their older siblings were finished before they could have a turn on the family computer. Both felt that students can’t reach their full potential with road blocks like limited access to the Internet and lack of computers in their way. “Equality should be the norm and Comcast gives a platform to equal the playing field for students,” says Jocelyne.
As Internet Essentials ambassadors Jocelyne and Monique recently had the pleasure of gifting nearly 100 New Jersey students with free laptops along with Internet Essentials opportunity cards that provide 6 months of free service. I can only imagine that joy of giving kids something that will revolutionize how they learn. I asked Monique about what that experience was like. She shared, “Kids understand when you give them a computer. They understand the worth of what they are getting.”
Who is eligible for affordable Internet access?
If any of these apply to you, you may be eligible for affordable Internet access and low cost computers through Internet Essentials
- Families with at least one child who qualifies for the National School Lunch Program
- Those receiving HUD housing assistance
- Internet Essentials eligibility has just been extended to low-income veterans who receive state or federal public assistance.
Additionally, households must:
- Live in an area where Comcast Internet Service is available
- Not have subscribed to Comcast Internet within the last 90 days
- Not have outstanding debt to Comcast that is less than one year old
In addition, Comcast offers pilot programs for community college students and seniors in some parts of the country.
To apply for affordable Internet access visit www.internetessentials.com or call 855-846-8376.
How can you support the Comcast Internet Essentials program to provide affordable Internet access for NJ families?
- Spread the word! If you know someone who can benefit with this program provide them with this link www.internetessentials.com or call 855-846-8376 to apply.
- If your kids are in a school district with students, that need Internet access at home, recommend the school reach out to Comcast. Comcast is not permitted to reach out directly to schools.
- If you work with a community nonprofit that works with low-income families or adults become an Internet Essentials Partner. Teachers, educators, community-based organizations and government officials can help spread the word about Internet Essentials. By registering as a partner, you can place an order for complimentary brochures, flyers and other materials to pass along to your community. Program materials are available in 14 languages.
Who can you help get affordable Internet access?