Highline Schools Foundation and Comcast help promote Digital Literacy in South King County

By Amy Lynch
Regional Senior Vice President
Comcast Washington

The City of Seattle Technology Access and Adoption study showed that more Seattle residents are connected to the internet than ever before. While this is good news for the 95 percent of Seattle households that report internet access where they live, access to internet and technology resources among low-income residents remains low. Further, disconnected households are disproportionately impoverished and families of color – two groups that would benefit most from internet connection at home.

This gap in access is what we call the “digital divide,” and bridging this gap is critical to workforce and economic development, as well as providing the best possible educational opportunities to our local youth – all of which are vital to the future of our city.

Research examining the digital divide among these households shows some consistent causes. The number one barrier to internet adoption is a complex mix of digital literacy skills and a lack of perceived need or interest in having the internet at home. The second barrier is the lack of an internet capable computer, and third is the cost of a monthly internet subscription.

This is a troubling problem that Comcast is uniquely positioned to address as a leading home broadband provider in Seattle and throughout King County. Across our footprint, including right here in the Puget Sound Region, we offer Internet Essentials a comprehensive, holistic and research-based program designed to address each of the barriers to internet adoption head on.

Internet Essentials provides low-cost internet access, the option to purchase a heavily discounted computer, and access to a full suite of print, online and in-person digital literacy resources and training. Since 2011, we have connected more than six million low-income Americans to the internet at home – most of them for the first time in their lives – including more than 260,000 across Washington and 100,000 in King County.

We’re continuing to grow the program throughout the state and here in King County through our partnerships with cities, school districts, libraries, elected officials and nonprofit community partners. Locally, we have, and continue to work with great Seattle organizations like King County Housing Authority, Renton Housing Authority, Highline School District Foundation, Ada Developers Academy, Literary Source, Chief Seattle Club, El Centro de la Raza, Seattle Goodwill, Solid Ground, Technology Access Foundation, and the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle.

The great collaboration between cities and organizations is key to driving adoption of these services. We are working with the city now more than ever before to ensure people get the information they need about our internet services that support folks with economic challenges.

A recent example is our ongoing partnership with the Highline Schools Foundation. Together, we recently held a digital literacy assembly at Beverly Elementary School, to help accelerate access to technology resources for low-income students. During the rally, 150 students were be recognized as digital ambassadors. They were given new laptops to help provide them with resources they need to continue to expand their educational opportunities.

Comcast partnered with Highline Schools Foundation to provide digital literacy resources to Seattle area students (photo credit: Comcast).

By collaborating with these civic and community groups, we can enhance their growing technology access programs with Internet Essentials programming, and help them in their efforts ensure everyone in the community has access to the technology resources they need. And, by improving digital adoption rates and connecting more families and individuals to the internet, we can make progress educational achievements and workforce preparedness, in order to give more people a chance to succeed in today’s digital economy.

To learn more about Internet Essentials from Comcast or to apply for the service, visit www.internetessentials.com or call 1-855-846-8376.