If you’re reading this, you must be online. Unfortunately, many Coloradans don’t have that luxury. That is, until recently, thanks to Comcast’s Internet Essentials (IE). IE provides low-cost Internet and affordable computers to families who have a child who qualifies for free or reduced lunch under the National School Lunch Program.
When it comes to the importance of Internet connectivity, and the impact IE is making on the state, the numbers speak for themselves:
- 19 million Americans, about six percent of the population, lack high-speed Internet service
- Now in its third year, Colorado is one of the Top 10 markets for IE; more people have taken advantage of the program here than in most parts of the country
- Thanks to IE, more than 8,300 families are online—families that weren’t connected just a few years ago
- In the Denver metro area alone, more than 6,100 families are connected
However, perhaps the most important number is that 243,013 Colorado children qualify—so there’s still a lot of work to be done and many families to be reached. This year, to make the program even more accessible to families in need, IE features a number of program enhancements including:
- Increasing Eligible Households: Now, all households with a student eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program are eligible for Internet Essentials, including low-income parochial, private and homeschool students. This brings the estimated total number of eligible families to nearly 2.6 million from 2.3 million.
- New Online Application: This spring, families will be able to use computers at community centers, local libraries or from a friend to request an application for Internet Essentials through an online form at InternetEssentials.com to improve and accelerate the application process.
- Opportunity Cards: This will enable non-profit organizations and others to pre-purchase Internet Essentials service in advance, for up to one year, for low-income families. This provides yet another way to accelerate enrollment by empowering community-based partners, businesses and foundations to help connect families to the Internet.
- More Computer Options: Comcast is offering customers the ability to purchase an Internet-ready desktop or laptop for less than $150, in addition to the netbooks that Comcast already offers. This will be piloted in Philadelphia and Chicago before rolling out to other markets.
More information about Internet Essentials can be found here: www.internetessentials.com.