COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on nearly every aspect of our daily lives. Comcast, NBCUniversal and Sky are working hard to do everything they can to support their customers, employees and communities during this unprecedented time.
On February 2, 2021, Comcast made several announcements building on our longstanding commitment to advancing digital equity, closing the digital divide and addressing both digital literacy and the homework gap. “We’ve been on a mission to address digital inequities in under-resourced communities through Internet Essentials for a decade and there’s never been a greater need than now,” said Dave Watson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Comcast Cable. “As a media and technology company, we have a unique opportunity to provide meaningful connection to the communities we serve – whether that’s through access to the Internet, programs to support creativity and digital literacy and skills training for young people, or workforce development opportunities for adults. Our commitment has never been stronger and we are dedicated to leveling the playing field and making a lasting impact for generations to come.”
COVID-19 has shone an even brighter light on this important societal equity issue. And at the onset of 2021, which coincides with the 10th anniversary of Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, they are once again advancing their digital equity commitment by doubling the program’s Internet download speed to 50 Mbps and increasing the upstream speed to 5 Mbps for all new and existing customers at no additional cost. This is the sixth time in 10 years that Comcast has increased broadband speeds for Internet Essentials customers while keeping the cost of the service at $9.95 a month. In addition, the company rolled out xFi and xFi Advanced Security product features to Internet Essentials customers for free and continue to offer 60 days of free service to any new Internet Essentials customer who signs up before June 30, 2021.
In 2020, Comcast also launched its Lift Zones initiative, a cooperative effort with local community and government leaders to offer free WiFi in community centers nationwide. These centers offer students a safe place to get online, access digital literacy training and support for their online learning needs. By 2021 year-end, the company is targeting 1,000 Lift Zones across its service area. It has also committed more than $40 million in cash to education and equity-focused partners that share the company’s goals of advancing social justice and equality. A selection of these partners include Per Scholas, Coded by Kids, Center for Black Innovation, Inner-City Arts and BUILD.org.
In addition, on February 9, 2021, Comcast announced the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, providing $5 million dollars of grants to hundreds of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC)-owned, small businesses. Beginning on March 1 through March 14, eligible businesses in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Houston and Philadelphia specified areas can apply for a $10,000 grant at http://www.ComcastRISE.com. A total of 100 grants per city, or 500 grants overall, will be awarded in May 2021. The Investment Fund is the latest extension of Comcast RISE, the multi-year, multi-faceted initiative launched in October 2020 that initially focused on black-owned, small businesses and then extended to BIPOC-owned to help those hardest hit by COVID-19. To help drive outreach about the program and provide additional support, training and mentorship, Comcast has also awarded more than $2 million to the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO), Operation Hope, Ureeka, U.S. Black Chambers, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, National Asian American Chamber of Commerce and nearly 20 community-based organizations in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Houston and Philadelphia.
On top of the Investment Fund, Comcast RISE, which stands for “Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment,” provides the opportunity for BIPOC-owned, small businesses nationwide to apply for marketing and technology services from Comcast Business of Effectv, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable. Over 700 recipients were announced in November, with the next wave of recipients to be announced in March 2021. Comcast RISE is part of a larger $100 million Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative that Comcast launched last summer. In June 2020, Comcast NBCUniversal announced the development of a comprehensive, multi-year plan to allocate $75 million in cash and $25 million in media over the next three years to fight injustice and inequality against any race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation or ability.
For more information about Internet Essentials and Comcast’s commitment to education and digital equity, please visit https://corporate.comcast.com/education. More information and the applications to apply for either the grant program or the marketing and technology services are available at www.ComcastRISE.com.