California narrows the nation’s digital divide with Comcast’s Internet Essentials program

Internet Essentials event

You can say California is competitive in many ways, from being home to some of the best universities to being known as one of the top food meccas to being home to the best weather in the country. Well, some may disagree with the last one, but really? Now California can add another chart topping fact to its credit. Cali is the #1 state in the nation to close the digital divide with Comcast’s Internet Essentials program.

Comcast announced California is the top state in the nation to close the digital divide for low-income families. Nearly 115,000 families, or nearly 460,000 Californians, have signed up for home internet through Comcast’s acclaimed Internet Essentials program. Now entering its sixth year, Internet Essentials has connected 750,000 low-income families nationally, benefitting 3 million Americans, to home-based internet service.

And more than $200,000 in grants for Bay Area community organizations to build computer labs, create digital literacy training classes, and purchase technology equipment. In addition, Comcast donated 100 laptops to households at the George Davis Senior Center in San Francisco, and 100 laptops to families who attend PLACE @ Prescott Elementary School in Oakland.

The company has partnered with Larry Magid, President and CEO of, a California-based internet safety nonprofit, to release a free Online & Mobile Safety Guide for Seniors. The guide, which is available for download here, addresses the unique needs of seniors who are learning to use the internet for the first time.

David L. Cohen, Comcast’s Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Diversity made these announcements last Fall alongside six-time Olympic Medalist and Internet Essentials Spokesperson Jackie Joyner-Kersee, as part of a multi-city back-to-school tour where the company announced more than $2 million in grants to community-based organizations that provide vital digital literacy training and internet access.

In San Francisco, the organizations receiving grants included: Self Help for the Elderly, Community Living Campaign, and Community Technology Network, Bayview Senior Services, Chinatown Community Development Center, Mission Housing Development Corporation, and Felton Institute – Family Service Agency of San Francisco.

In Oakland, the organizations included: The Oakland Citizens Committee for Urban Renewal (OCCUR), Oakland Private Industry Council, Spanish Speaking Citizens Foundation, Oakland Digital Arts & Literacy Center (ODALC), Qeyno Labs, and Oakland Technology Exchange West.

This followed recent news that Comcast has expanded the program’s eligibility to households receiving HUD-housing assistance, including public housing, Housing Choice Voucher, and Multifamily programs. In California there are 190,000 HUD-assisted homes that stand to benefit from this expansion. In total, there are up to 2 million HUD-assisted homes in Comcast’s service area across the country, which, according to HUD, accounts for approximately 40 percent of all HUD-assisted households. This expansion of eligibility means even more individuals, including seniors, veterans, and adults without children, can apply to the program.

Additionally, Comcast recently released a comprehensive Internet Essentials Five Year Progress Report, which includes significant new milestones highlighting the program’s impact on the lives of its customers since its launch in 2011.

National Internet Essentials Investments

  • Since 2011, Comcast has invested more than $300 million in cash and in-kind support to fund digital literacy initiatives nationally, reaching nearly 4.4 million people through national and local nonprofit community partners. Additional key program milestones and facts through June 2016 include:
    • Dedicated more than $1.8 million in grants to create Internet Essentials Learning Zones, where networks of nonprofit partners are working together to enhance public Internet access and increase family-focused digital literacy training in Atlanta, Baltimore Chicago, Denver, Fresno, and Seattle, among others.
    • Broadcast 8.5 million public service announcements, valued at nearly $110 million.
    • Provided more than 54,000 subsidized computers at less than $150 each.
    • Distributed nearly 53 million pieces of Internet Essentials program material for free.
    • Welcomed more than 6.4 million visitors to the Internet Essentials English and Spanish websites, and its Online Learning Center.
    • Fielded more than 4.4 million phone calls to our Internet Essentials call center.
    • Offered Internet Essentials to more than 55,000 schools in more than 5,000 school districts in 39 states and the District of Columbia.
    • Partnered with over 9,000 community-based organizations, government agencies, and federal, state, and local elected officials to spread the word.

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