Comcast and OATS Partner to Bridge Digital Divide Among Older Population; $25,000 in Grants and 500 Computers To Be Donated
Detroit has been selected as one of three cities where Comcast and Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) from AARP are launching a new initiative geared toward connecting more senior citizens to the Internet and further bridging the digital divide. As part of the program, Comcast and OATS will provide outreach materials, engagement tools and Senior Planet training designed specifically to serve aging adults.
Comcast will also donate a total of $25,000—or $5,000 each—to Detroit Area Agency on Aging, Detroit Housing Commission, Focus Hope, Matrix Human Services and the St. Patrick’s Senior Center. In addition, the grants will help support the distribution of 250 computers, as well as digital learning instructional materials to seniors served by the five nonprofit organizations.
In partnership with Connect 313, which is Detroit’s digital inclusion strategy that seeks to ensure all Detroiters can access the digital world, an additional 250 laptops will be donated by Comcast to other Detroit-based nonprofits working with seniors. Other program partners include Human IT and health partners—TEAM Wellness Center and AETNA Better Health of Michigan.
“By working together with other organizations that share our passion for digital equity, we will be able to educate more seniors about how to safely use the Internet and access all the value it can offer,” said Tim Collins, senior vice president for Comcast in Michigan. “Just as importantly, what we learn from the pilot here will help pave the way for other communities across the U.S. to learn from our experience and get more seniors online.”
The initiative also includes collecting and studying engagement successes, feedback and other information provided by participating nonprofits. This insight will help Comcast and OATS better understand how to appeal to and serve an aging population unfamiliar with digital technology.
“We want to create a future where every Detroiter is digitally included, especially our seniors,” said Joshua Edmonds, director of digital inclusion for the City of Detroit and founder of Connect 313. “Together, with Comcast and OATS, we will reach and empower as many Detroit seniors as possible with the technology and training they need.”
“When older adults get online for the first time, a whole new world opens up. At OATS, we’ve seen amazing transformations in social connection, access to digital health resources and financial literacy—all of which are linked to getting broadband at home. That’s why we are so committed to closing the digital isolation gaps for older adults across America,” said Thomas Kamber, Executive Director of Older Adults Technology Services from AARP. “This relationship with Comcast brings us one step closer to addressing age-related technology disparities and helps us move toward a goal where every older American has quality, affordable broadband—and the know-how to use it to live their best life.”
With each donated laptop, Comcast will also provide six months of free Internet service through the company’s Internet Essentials program, the nation’s largest and most successful low-income Internet adoption initiative, which in ten years, has connected a total of 10 million people to the Internet. Internet Essentials offers high-speed broadband Internet service for $9.95 per month. Seniors can also build technology skills through OATS’ flagship program Senior Planet. Senior Planet is a free online community that equips seniors with the technical skills to thrive in a digital world. The program includes access to workshops, web content, hotline support and affinity groups.