Comcast steps up its efforts to bridge the digital divide

Comcast said it is partnering with a nonprofit called Lift to escalate its digital literacy initiative aimed at helping low-income families.

Through a two-year commitment of $1.3 million in cash and in-kind support, Comcast said it will help Lift expand its digital literacy hubs at its resource centers in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

Part of that money will go toward airing public awareness TV ads in those markets. The ads will seek to persuade low-income families of the relevance of the Internet in seeking jobs or in helping children with their homework.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Over the two-year period, the plan is for Lift advocates to one-on-one and workshop-based support to community members as they search for jobs online and create household budgets and e-mail addresses. Some of Comcast’s donation will be set aside for establishing a computer lab at Lift’s facility in Greater Boston.

The partnership with Lift builds on the Internet Essentials program that Comcast launched in 2011. Under that effort, a family whose children are eligible for the federal government’s free or reduced-price lunch program can qualify for a special Internet subscription from Comcast with a rate of $9.95 per month. In general, an Internet-only Comcast subscription starts at $39.99.

“A lack of digital literacy and understanding of how the Internet is relevant and useful are key barriers to broadband adoption in low-income communities,” Comcast Foundation president Charisse R. Lillie said in a statement. “This new partnership with Lift will help bridge the gap between access and education, helping tens of thousands of families nationwide cross the digital divide and unleash the power of technology to improve their lives.”