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Comcast-led effort to close digital divide enters year 3

12comcastDSC 2156_600Year three of Comcast's Internet Essentials initiative was kicked off Monday with an event at the Boys and Girls Club Technical Training Center at 903 Walker Ave.

Those on hand for the event included Otha Brandon, Comcast director of Government Affairs, Joe Sing, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club Technical Training Center, Eric Robertson, president of Community Life, and Bernal E. Smith II, president and publisher of The New Tri-State Defender.

Internet Essentials is designed to help connect to the Internet those low-income Americans with children who receive a free or reduced-price school lunch as part of their enrollment in the National School Lunch Program.

"Access to the Internet has the potential to be a great equalizer for providing access to education, employment, healthcare and other critical and important aspects of everyday living," said Brandon. "Internet Essentials helps level the playing field for low-income families."

11essentialspartnersNearly 250,000 families or 1 million low-income Americans are enrolled in the Internet Essentials program. Comcast teams with the community, local government officials, educators and parents to increase enrollment.

"Access to broadband in student's homes will help them with educational endeavors such as connecting with their teachers and their school's educational resources and it provides an opportunity for parents to do things like apply for jobs online or use the Internet to learn more about healthcare and government services available," Brandon said.

Comcast will sign up eligible families for at least three yours, through the end of the 2013-14 school years. Any household that qualifies will remain eligible if at least one child eligible for a free or reduced lunch remains living in the household.

In Memphis, Comcast works with a network of community-based organizations to spread the word about Internet Essentials and to provide digital literacy training. The network includes the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Memphis, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Latino Memphis, the Memphis Urban League, Literacy Mid-South, Volunteer Mid-South and Brown Baptist Church.

(For more information, visit www.internetessentials.com (English) and www.internetbasic.com (Spanish). Educators or third-parties interested in spreading the word should go to www.internetessentials.com/partner. Parents looking to enroll can call 1-855-846-8376 or 1-855-765-6995 (Spanish).)

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