City of Tacoma press release.
TACOMA, Wash. – Today, Comcast announced that it will invest $300,000 to support digital access and adoption across the South Puget Sound region. Expanding on the foundational work of Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards to establish regional partnerships that advance digital equity for all, Comcast will award $150,000 to the Thrive Tacoma Business Fund, $50,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the South Puget Sound, $50,000 to the Goodwill of the Olympics and Rainier Region, and $50,000 in cash and donated laptop computers to TeamWrk. Comcast selected the recipient organizations based on their shared commitment to digital equity and programs that are specifically designed to provide residents in the South Puget Sound Region with internet access and skill-building services.
Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest private sector broadband adoption program for low-income households, was introduced in Tacoma in 2011 in partnership with Comcast and the Tacoma Housing Authority. Since that time, Internet Essentials has connected more than 21,000 households in Pierce County to high-speed Internet at home, many for the first time. Also, as early as 2015, the Tacoma City Council identified having equitable access to computers and the internet as key to ensuring residents are well positioned to maximize opportunities in education, employment, business development, healthcare, and government services. The City of Tacoma’s Digital Equity Program was first established that same year.
“Our Digital Equity Program work is ongoing and continues to evolve in response to the present level of need. What we are seeing in Tacoma is not unique, however. The needs that exist in Tacoma exist in other cities as well,” said Mayor Woodards. “Strong ties between our public, private and nonprofit sectors will continue to be critical as we all work collaboratively toward our shared goals. I thank Comcast for their partnership and continued efforts to support digital access and adoption for those in need, particularly across the South Puget Sound region.”
“Accelerating digital adoption is a shared goal and responsibility. Getting members of the community online is critical for them to be able to access everything from important news and information to economic opportunities and vital local services,” said Dalila Wilson-Scott, EVP and Chief Diversity Officer, Comcast Corporation and President, Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation. “Comcast is delighted to deepen our partnership with Mayor Woodards with this grant announcement and further ensure digital equity for all residents across the region.”
Comcast’s contributions are part of Project UP, the company’s $1 billion commitment to reach tens of millions of people over the next 10 years with the skills, resources, and opportunities needed to succeed in a digital world. Here is how each recipient organization will use the funds to advance digital equity in the community:
- Thrive Tacoma Business Fund Led by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, the mission of the Thrive Tacoma Business Fund is to provide direct financial support for small businesses owned by people of color, many of which are still struggling with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Comcast’s $150,000 contribution will be used to fund grants that will be awarded based on the business need in amounts of $2,500 to $5,000. Additional financial support will also go to non-profits with digital navigators, trusted community members that provide access and assistance to program participants. Recipients will receive direct finance, digital access, and other technical support specifically curated to their unique business challenges, thereby ensuring greater equitable economic development in Tacoma.
- Boys & Girls Clubs of the South Puget Sound Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound is a nonprofit organization that provides young people (ages 6-18) with safe spaces, caring mentors, and life-enhancing programs tailored to help them reach their full potential. The $50,000 grant will support the ‘Power Hour’ program and a back-to-school event focused on digital responsibility and education. The ‘Power Hour’ is a daily program to promote academic success for members aged 6 to 18 through tutoring, homework support, and technology access. It’s one of the many programs run by Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound that is available to kids at eight club locations in Pierce, Kitsap & Mason counties.
- Goodwill of the Olympics and Rainier Region – Goodwill of the Olympics & Rainier Region has made a commitment – through its Power Up initiative – to increase access to digital technology and skills training for people across its 15-county region. Comcast’s $50,000 grant will help ensure that the Goodwill’s free job-training program equips people with the most relevant and timely digital skills that are required for nearly all jobs in our economy.
- TeamWrk – TeamWrk is e-gaming innovator Marcel Cunningham’s foundation, which challenges youth to level up to their full potential, whose vision is to equip and empower everyone to elevate their game. Comcast’s $50,000 contribution will facilitate live streaming from the TeamWrk center and help to expand the foundation’s reach to more youth in the City of Tacoma. The computers donated by Comcast will be distributed to teens participating in TeamWrk digital literacy education, which teaches them how to use Teams, Zoom, and PowerPoint; create and edit podcasts, graphics, and video content; and learn other digital skills supporting their school and career.
“Comcast is deeply committed to Washington, where our thousands of employees live, work, and support our communities. We see firsthand that the digital divide is a significant challenge for our communities big and small throughout the state,” said Rodrigo Lopez, region senior vice president of Comcast in Washington. “That is why we are working side by side with public, private, and nonprofit partners, like the City of Tacoma, to do our part to bridge that divide, advance digital equity and bring economic opportunity.”
“The U.S. Small Business Administration strongly supports digital capacity building for small businesses. We are pleased to be part of the national Small Business Digital Alliance with Comcast and many other technology companies across the country,” said SBA Pacific Northwest Regional Administrator Mike Fong. He added, “We are excited to partner with the City of Tacoma and the Tacoma/Pierce County Chamber of Commerce to advance an equitable recovery from the pandemic in our communities for small businesses owned by people of color.”
A key part of Comcast’s commitment is Internet Essentials, which since 2011, has connected more than 25,000 low-income households in the South Sound to the internet, many for the first time. Now, Comcast is also proud to participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides eligible households a credit of up to $30 per month towards internet and mobile services.
About Project UP
Project UP is Comcast’s company-wide initiative to advance digital equity and build a future of unlimited possibilities by connecting people to the Internet, opening doors for the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, and storytellers, and creating new career pathways in the arts, media, and technology.
Additionally, Comcast has launched nearly 100 Lift Zones in the Puget Sound Region over the past two years to assist citizens who, for various reasons, cannot connect to the Internet in their homes. Lift Zones provide free, robust WiFi hotspots in spaces designed to help students and families get online, participate in distance learning, do homework, search for jobs, and access healthcare information and public assistance.
For more information about Project UP, Internet Essentials, Lift Zones, and Comcast’s commitment to education and digital equity, please visit corporate.comcast.com/impact/project-up. To apply, visit internetessentials.com or call (855) 846-8376 for English or (855) 765-6995 for Spanish.