Bridging Atlanta Communities, One Internet Connection at a Time

Bridging Atlanta Communities, One Internet Connection at a Time

By Chris Blondell

We live in a world dominated by the internet. Chances are that you’re a fan of the web, because you’re reading this online right now.

Truth is, it’s hard to live in this world without being connected in some way to the online universe. With everyone talking about the latest tweet, Taylor Swift’s Instagram post or the countless articles shared on Facebook, our world feels more digital than it’s ever been.

Unfortunately, accessible internet service isn’t a reality for some people in Atlanta. Not everyone has frequent access to the internet, which can make it difficult for students to excel academically.

The Challenge: A Digitally Divided Atlanta

While schools have adapted to the prevalence of the internet by incorporating technology into classrooms, not every student has online access at home. There is most certainly a digital divide between internet access and low-income households in the Atlanta region.

So what exactly is the digital divide? To put it simply, it’s the theoretical space between those who have ready access to computers and the internet, and those who do not. It’s both an economic and social inequality that is becoming increasingly pressing as the internet continues to develop.

That’s where Internet Essentials from Comcast comes in.

What is Internet Essentials? It’s a program that provides affordable internet, low-cost computers and free online and in-person digital literacy classes. Internet Essentials has transformed people’s lives: Having this access opens up an entire realm of possibilities for web surfers of all ages.

To keep our society functioning and moving at a steady pace, it’s important that people have online access at home. It’s even important that senior citizens get involved in this new world. Receiving photos of their grandkids through email and Facetime becomes a reality with Internet access.

Internet Essentials in Atlanta: The Effect

The Atlanta region (which qualifies as 27 counties in northern Georgia) is a prime location for demonstrating how programs like Internet Essentials shift and shape the future.

Atlanta is one of the markets where Internet Essentials has had the most success in terms of participation,” says Alex Horwitz, Vice President of Public Relations at Comcast.

Nearly 35,000 households in the Atlanta region participate in the Internet Essentials program. That statistic represents students who are able to do their homework and research from their home, parents who are able to apply for jobs online and senior citizens who are adapting to a rapidly changing landscape. To put it simply, Internet Essentials gets people connected.

Beyond the Screen: Comcast Connects with Atlanta

Internet Essentials extends to more than just computer screens. Just last month, for example, local Comcast employees helped distribute school supplies to teachers at Title I schools in partnership with the Atlanta Community Food Bank’s Jefferson Avenue location.

Comcast donated $10,000 to the Food Bank’s Kids in Need program, which allows teachers from Title I schools in area school districts to collect those distributed school supplies for their classrooms. For teachers to qualify for the program, at least 80 percent of a school’s students must be enrolled in the federal free and reduced meal program.

It sure seems like Internet Essentials would be a no-brainer, right? However, according to Victoria Brossy, Director of Community Affairs for Comcast’s Big South Region, the biggest challenge is “helping folks to understand the benefits of having internet at home.”

If you know someone in the Atlanta region who could benefit from Internet Essentials and meets the eligibility criteria, encourage them to consider the program. It’s back-to-school season, after all, and Comcast wants to support the community.

Let’s get Atlanta online.