Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Comcast today announced that nearly 16,000 Cook County families have joined Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, more than any county in the nation. Designed to help close the digital divide, the Internet Essentials program provides Internet service at home to eligible families for around $10 a month, the ability to purchase computers for around $150, and access to free digital literacy training in print, online, and in-person.
“We are working on bridging the significant digital divide in Cook County. Children need access to the Internet to succeed in school, and families need access to the Internet to fully participate in the 21st century economy,” Preckwinkle said. “Through Internet Essentials, Cook County, the community, and Comcast all came together to address an important economic issue—the digital divide—and we made meaningful headway.”
Comcast Foundation President Charisse Lillie added that Internet Essentials is the nation’s largest, most comprehensive broadband adoption initiative. In just 16 months since its inception, more than 150,000 eligible low-income families, or an estimated 600,000 people nationally, have enrolled in the program. They are now able to connect to the Internet at home, many for the first time.
Lillie also presented a $5,000 check from Comcast to the Thornton Township Senior/Youth and Family Services Center to enhance its computer lab and digital literacy programs.
Families who have at least one child qualified to participate in the National School Lunch Program are eligible for Internet Essentials.
To spread the word about Internet Essentials to the thousands of additional Cook County families that could benefit from the program, Comcast engaged government entities and officials, community-based organizations, faith-based leaders, and educators. Comcast unveiled a public service announcement on Internet Essentials featuring President Preckwinkle that will begin airing today. Preckwinkle also announced a Cook County Board Resolution declaring March 21, 2013 “Broadband Adoption Day” in the county.
Comcast announced today several enhancements to Internet Essentials designed to broaden eligibility and help encourage more families to enroll. By expanding eligibility criteria to include parochial, private and homeschool students, the estimated total number of eligible families is nearly 2.6 million.