Blog Post

Bridging the Digital Divide

September 10, 2014
Over the last 13 years, I have worked at SE2 on a host of important issues. From health access to higher education funding, tobacco control to civil rights, we’ve tackled many of the problems that our society faces.
But one challenge that I’ve found particularly worthwhile is bridging the digital divide. 
Stop and think for a minute about the role computers and Internet access play in your daily life. For me, it goes a little somethin’ like this: check email, scroll through Twitter feed, Google some stuff, look at photos on Facebook or Instagram, repeat. Several times a day. If you’re like most people, getting online is one of the first things you do when you wake up in the morning and one of the last things you do before you go to bed.
More than any generation before them, today’s youth are fully reliant on computers and digital connection. But they don’t just surf the Internet and communicate with friends through social media. They also use technology to learn and grow. Of course, that becomes more challenging if you don’t have the means to access it. 
For kids who come from families too financially strapped to have an Internet connection or even own a computer, keeping up can be tough. Imagine that you’re a low-income kid trying to make the grade. You’ve got homework to do, research to compile, emails to send, papers to write. Yet without a computer at home, there’s a barrier to getting it all done. It’s a digital divide that, in a micro sense, means you may not keep up with your school work but, in a macro one, means that you might not have the same opportunities to compete in the modern world as your more privileged classmates. 
Enter our friends at Comcast. 
Since 2011, Comcast’s Internet Essentials program has worked to close the digital divide by offering low-income students affordable broadband connections. Through the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program, 350,000 families – or about 1.4 million Americans – have received Internet access at home for only $9.95 a month plus tax. They also have the option to purchase an Internet-ready computer for under $150 and participate in free digital literacy training. 
While these numbers are impressive, their impact is what really matters. By offering low-income families access to the Internet, Comcast is really offering people opportunity. 
“Internet Essentials is about transforming lives and inspiring a new generation of leaders to be digitally ready to access the information and tools all students need to succeed in the 21st century,” says Comcast’s Executive Vice President David L. Cohen. 
SE2 has helped promote the program through both earned and paid media. We produced a TV spot, in both English and Spanish, to promote Internet Essentials. It first aired in Colorado and then in some of Comcast’s other service areas. 

Comcast Internet Essentials from SE2 on Vimeo.
Then earlier this month, Comcast announced a new boost to the program by offering families who are eligible but not yet enrolled up to six months of complementary service. The offer couldn’t have come at a better time – just as school is starting. Comcast has also decided to use the television ad we produced in markets nationwide.
I’m certainly excited to see our ad air in front of a national audience. But I am most proud to be working on an initiative, and for a company, that is changing lives. Here’s hoping that families across the country see our spot and jump at the chance to be part of the Internet Essentials program. It’s a good one.

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