Here’s a stunning fact about today’s hyper-connected world: An estimated 30 percent of Americans aren’t connected to the Internet.
This digital divide has a major impact on education and ultimately developing our workforce. I was happy to learn that Comcast is addressing the issue with its Internet Essentials program. The program is designed for homes with children in the National School Lunch Program and makes high-speed Internet available for $9.95 a month, plus tax; a desktop or laptop with Microsoft Office costs them only $149.99. The program currently connects more than 500,000 low-income families to the Internet and involves a network of 1,500 volunteers.
Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen, who is based in the corporation’s Philadelphia headquarters, was recently in West Palm Beach to expand Internet Essentials with a pilot program to help low-income seniors. Among high-income seniors, 75 percent are connected to the Internet, but the figure drops to 25 percent for low-income seniors, Cohen says.
Cohen says that the business community is very engaged in the digital divide issue. After a talk at the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, he received over 50 emails of support from business leaders.
Dr. Robert Avossa, superintendent of Palm Beach County Schools, is supportive of the program because he was familiar with it as school superintendent in Fulton County, Georgia, Cohen says.
Last year, Comcast announced a partnership with the Overtown Youth Center in Miami, which was founded by former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning.
Patrick Franklin, president and CEO of the Urban League of Palm Beach County, is supporting the program by working with Comcast on the pilot program at a senior citizen center.
Want to help out? Visit internetessentials.com and click on the “Become a Partner” button at the bottom.
I want to end this column with a personal note of thanks to our readers, advertisers and sponsors. It seems like we just started SFBW, but this issue marks our one-year anniversary. It has been very gratifying to see such positive feedback about our publication. Chairman and CEO Gary Press and the entire SFBW and Lifestyle Media Group team would like to thank all of you for your support.
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