Comcast has decided to reform its eligibility requirements for its Internet Essentials Program, so more low-income families can bridge the digital divide without breaking their budgets. Now families that send their children to private school and families with homeschooled children can qualify.
So far, the Internet Essentials Program has helped more than 150,000 low-income families afford high speed internet access. In addition the cable giant has sponsored free digital literacy training sessions at the Boys and Girls Club of Chambersburg for residents in need.
Said Karyn Grammata, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club: “We teach computer safety, whether it be in the Comcast Internet Essentials Class, which was mostly for adults, or here in other ways with children in the clubhouse. Children are trained multiple times in computer safety and basic computer skills.”
Before the policy change, only families with children who qualified for reduced price or free lunches were eligible for the Internet Essentials Program. The program enables families to pay only $9.95 a month for broadband internet access, and provides refurbished netbooks for only $150. Now families outside the public school system are eligible, which should help bring more low-income families across the digital divide.
“We expanded, so that now students whose schools don’t participate in the school lunch program can still be eligible,” stated Comcast representative Jennifer Bilotta. “A school doesn’t have to participate in the National School Lunch Program and this also opened it up to homeschool kids.”
It’s a good thing that Comcast is doing what it can to promote digital literacy and internet access for everyone, regardless of income. In today’s increasingly wired economy, it’s important that underprivileged children have the same tools and opportunities to succeed just like everybody else.