Empowering communities for a connected futureOct 06, 2023 10:02AM ● By Peri Kinder
Comcast’s programs that help bridge the digital gap are an investment in the future of connection throughout the state of Utah. (Courtesy of Comcast)
As the world becomes more connected, equitable access to digital platforms is increasingly important. While more people than ever have internet access, there are still gaps in coverage based on income, location and education.
Comcast, a global media and technology company, has become a pivotal force in bridging that digital divide. Understanding the importance of the issue, Comcast’s programs, services and partnerships are geared toward creating affordable high-speed internet access for students, communities, businesses and families.
For students, digital learning loss was intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic, disproportionately affecting children from low-income families. Through a partnership with Comcast, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake provides digital resources and internet connection for children to succeed.
“Comcast’s financial support is critical for our goal of helping kids to be successful in school,” said BGC-GSL President/CEO Amanda Ree Hughes. “One of the other partnerships that we have with Comcast is the Lift Zones, which are Wi Fi hotspots that increase our bandwidth at our hub locations in our computer lab, so the kids are able to access the computers and the technology at a greater capacity than what we could do on our own.”
With seven locations across Salt Lake, Carbon and Tooele County, the BGC-GSL serves more than 6,000 children every year through its afterschool and summer programs. Comcast has supported its mission for decades, providing technology and funding for computer labs and STEM programs.
The Youth Impact Center in Ogden is also a beneficiary of Comcast’s dedication to bridging the digital gap. The Lift Zones at the Youth Impact Center provide access to computers and internet services to help students stay connected and continue learning, regardless of their financial circumstances.
Kelli Meranda is the director of Promise South Salt Lake, an initiative created by the City of South Salt Lake to provide out-of-school programming at 13 neighborhood centers, along with classes and resources for adults. With a focus on academic excellence, Promise SSL is committed to youth in the community by offering free services that emphasize equity, diversity and children-first policies.
Its Three Promises are 1) every child has the opportunity to attend and graduate from college, 2) every resident has a safe, clean home and neighborhood, and 3) everyone has the opportunity to be healthy and to prosper.
Through Comcast’s support, the Lift Zones at the South Salt Lake Community Center and the Historic Scott School Community Center provide free WiFi for residents in the city.
“In addition, Comcast has been an active participant on our digital inclusion committee in partnership with South Salt Lake and Millcreek City lending their expertise and knowledge in bridging the digital divide in our communities,” Meranda said, “and helping to support ideas and programs and services to make sure all of our residents have access to much-needed service.”
Comcast knows internet access is no longer a luxury. The company continues to invest in students, programs, resources and opportunities dedicated to providing digital equity.
For example, Comcast is participating in the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program and the $30/month benefit can be applied to any tier of Xfinity Internet service.
“We’ve introduced two new ways for customers to connect through ACP and both are available to any customer who qualifies in all the company’s service areas,” said Deneiva Knight, external affairs director at Comcast Mountain West Region. “Customers can sign up for Internet Essentials Plus, which includes 100 Mbps download speeds, a cable modem, and WiFi router, and is free after the government’s ACP credit is applied.”
Comcast recognizes the importance of digital inclusion and is deeply committed to making a difference in Utah communities.
“The digital divide in Utah is a gap we’re dedicated to closing," said Knight. “To us, internet access is a necessity in today’s world. That’s why we continue to invest to promote digital equity. Together, we can bridge the digital divide and create a more connected, inclusive future for everyone in Utah.”