Comcast announced today the opening of its first WiFi-connected “Lift Zone” in Grand Rapids at the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan located at 1204 Grandville Ave. SW. The Lift Zone is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Lift Zones from Comcast provide free robust WiFi hotspots in safe spaces designed to help students get online, participate in distance learning and do their homework. Lift Zones also serve adults and can connect them to online adult education, job searches, healthcare information and public assistance. These sites offer access to hundreds of hours of digital skills content to help families and site coordinators navigate online learning.
“The families our center serves face many challenges, especially now during the pandemic,” said Evelyn Esparza, executive director of the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan. “Access to the Internet is critical, and we are proud to join Comcast to create a safe environment where our visitors can connect to learn, find jobs and access the resources to help them thrive.”
In March, Comcast announced it will invest $1 billion nationally over the next 10 years to help further close the digital divide and give even more low-income Americans the tools and resources they need to succeed in an increasingly digital world.
“Solving a problem as vast and complex as the digital divide requires collaboration with schools, elected officials, nonprofit community partners and other private-sector companies,” said Tim Collins, senior vice president of Comcast in Michigan. “Since 2011 when Comcast launched its Internet Essentials program, we’ve been fortunate to partner with several local organizations which share our passion for digital equity, like the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan.”
Comcast’s $1 billion commitment includes investments in a number of critical areas, including: additional support for its ongoing Lift Zone initiative; new laptop and computer donations; grants for nonprofit community organizations to create opportunities for low-income Americans, particularly in media, technology, and entrepreneurship; and continued investment in the company’s landmark Internet Essentials program. It is estimated that these new commitments will impact as many as 50 million Americans over the next 10 years. In 2021 alone, Comcast estimates students will be able to complete more than 25 million hours of remote learning lessons to further address the “homework gap” at the hundreds of Lift Zone locations that have already opened or will open soon.
In 10 years, Internet Essentials has become the nation’s largest and most successful low-income Internet adoption program and has connected millions of people to the Internet. It offers households low-cost, broadband Internet service for $9.95/month, the option to purchase a heavily subsidized computer and multiple options for free digital literacy training. Earlier this year, Comcast committed to providing 60 days of free Internet Essentials service for qualifying low-income families through the end of 2020. Additionally, the company increased speeds for all new and existing Internet Essentials customers at no additional cost.