November 12, 2018 — PORTLAND, Ore.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Comcast announced today that, since 2011, it has connected more than six million low-income Americans to the Internet through its acclaimed Internet Essentials program, which is the largest and most comprehensive Internet adoption program for low-income families in the U.S. This number includes more than 140,000 Oregonians.
The company also announced it has significantly expanded eligibility for Internet Essentials – for the 11th time – to include low-income veterans. There are an estimated one million low-income veterans who live in Comcast’s service area nationally, including 26,000 who live in the state of Oregon. This expansion will allow those who have dedicated their lives to service to connect with the resources they need such as VA benefits, or the ability to search and apply for jobs, schools, or scholarships.
Today’s news comes on the heels of Comcast NBCUniversal’s recent announcement that it will hire an additional 11,000 veterans, military spouses, and National Guard and Reserve members, bringing its total to 21,000 military hires by the end of 2021. Comcast’s previous commitment, made in 2015, was to hire 10,000 military community members by the end of 2017, which it exceeded.
“We’re here in Portland to talk about leveling the playing field for veterans, specifically low-income veterans, who have put their lives on the line for all of us,” said David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Comcast Corporation. “According to research, nearly a third of low-income veterans do not have Internet service at home and more than 40 percent don’t own a computer. That is unacceptable to us, which is why we are working to connect more veterans to vital online resources that can help them better navigate the complexities of daily life as civilians.”
To make inroads toward that goal, Cohen gave away 90 laptop computers to local low-income veterans at a Veterans Appreciation Luncheon at the Beaverton Elks Lodge. He also announced Comcast will provide a grant to create a new computer lab at the Salvation Army Veterans & Family Center in Beaverton, which serves veterans from all eras and military branches, and their families. The Salvation Army Veteran & Family Center helps their residents coordinate medical, mental health, and additional services, including educational services, housing placement, and job training programs. The computer lab will be updated with new equipment and software programs, and will be used to host digital literacy skills classes specifically designed by the Psych Armor Institute for veterans. Classes will cover topics like how to search and apply for jobs, schools, and scholarships, as well as how to research VA benefits and other resources.
“Our vets and their families need to access the Internet for information, to help with school, for research, to find jobs and much more. We’re thankful to Comcast for recognizing that need,” said Major Michael Zielinski of The Salvation Army. “This grant will enable us to convert a storeroom into a welcoming space where our residents can apply for jobs, make medical appointments, and the kids can do their homework.”
Cohen was joined today by Purple Heart recipient, two-time U.S. Paralympic gold medalist, and local Portland resident Rico Roman. Roman is a retired Army Staff Sergeant whose left leg was amputated when he was wounded by an IED while serving his third tour in Iraq in 2007. Cohen was also joined by Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, who was instrumental in leading Team USA’s defeat over Canada for the gold medal in women’s hockey at the Olympic winter games in PyeongChang, South Korea. Lamoureux-Davidson serves, with her twin sister Monique Lamoureux-Morando, as an ambassador for Comcast’s corporate values initiatives, which include Internet Essentials.
“I’m so proud to be partnering with Comcast to help attack the digital divide for low-income veterans,” said Roman. “In the Army, we live by the soldier’s creed to leave no one behind. In today’s digital world, no veteran should be left on the wrong side of the digital divide either.”
“It’s a special honor to be here today in Portland to thank veterans and members of the military community for their service,” said Lamoureux-Davidson. “If not for their selfless sacrifice, my sister and I wouldn’t be able to represent our country in the Olympics. I’m also grateful that Comcast has opened up its Internet Essentials program to help low-income veterans gain easier access to their VA benefits. No one has earned those benefits more than our veterans.”
Internet Essentials has an integrated, wrap-around design meant to address each of the three major barriers to broadband adoption that research has identified. These include a lack of digital literacy skills, a lack of a computer and the absence of a low-cost Internet service. The program is structured as a partnership between Comcast and tens of thousands of school districts, libraries, elected officials, and nonprofit community partners. For more information on Internet Essentials, visit www.internetessentials.com