On September 12, Comcast organized an event to kick off another year of Internet Essentials and make a few important announcements. The event happened at the Dr. George W. Davis Senior Residences in the Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco. This location, along with thousands more across the country, is now eligible for Comcast’s newest low-cost internet option specifically for HUD-assisted properties.
Comcast began offering Internet Essentials in 2011 for families whose children were on the free or reduced lunch program. In 2015, the program expanded to seniors in a few pilot cities, San Francisco included. The newest offering is a great addition and is expected to serve an additional 2 million households just in California.
This event was part of a multi-city back-to-school tour where Comcast announced they would be giving $2 million in grants to community-based organizations that provide vital digital literacy training and internet access. Community Technology Network is one of those organizations. We will continue to offer digital literacy training and assist our learners in signing up for home internet.
Speakers — including Mayor Ed Lee, Supervisor Malia Cohen, and Comcast Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer David Cohen — introduced Internet Essentials spokesperson Jackie Joyner-Kersee, six-time Olympic medalist and founder of the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation. Her foundation’s mission is to inspire a community by connecting with the children, youth, and families of East St. Louis and be receptive to their needs.
The event will not soon be forgotten by the residents, who all went home with a laptop donated by Comcast! But we know that the internet and a device alone will not close the digital divide. Training and an understanding of relevance are key. As an SF Connected program, CTN has Digital and Adult Literacy Coordinator William Dean spend several hours a week there helping residents with their technology questions.
An example of one resident is Maxine. She has a laptop and receives tutoring in the lab. She comes during William’s shift to receive guidance about navigating her new device and the internet and usually brings a list of questions and concerns. Starting out as a new computer user, Maxine has made notable progress in the last few months. She represents many residents who are excited and grateful about the new facility and the digital literacy training being provided.
If you live or work in the Bayview and are interested in making a difference in your community, please consider becoming a volunteer tutor. For more information, review our website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.