Digital Inequality: How Comcast’s WiFi-Connected “Lift Zones” Are Helping Denver Families
posted by: Amber Johnson
Most parents would agree that COVID-19 has been non-stop stress, especially as it pertains to distance learning and quarantining. Though difficult, I recognize my family’s privilege: my husband and I work remotely, we have Internet access and my two teenagers have school-issued laptops.
These factors make us better-off than many Coloradans. In fact, a staggering 12.2% of Denver households don’t have Internet access (higher than the national average) and 8.2% of households in Denver don’t have a computer.
The digital inequality gap has never been more pronounced than during this pandemic. So, what is the solution to thousands of low-income families who are falling behind in school?
Enter: Comcast’s Lift Zones
Comcast, along with Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman and Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock recently announced plans to equip more than 20 different locations in the Denver Metro Area with WiFi-connected “Lift Zones” by the end of the year.
Working with its network of nonprofit partners, Comcast is providing robust WiFi coverage at safe spaces like parks and recreation centers, Boys & Girls Clubs, Girls Inc. and other non-profit and community centers that are expected to help thousands of low-income students get online, participate in distance learning and do their homework in a socially distanced manner.
These Lift Zone sites have been strategically installed in communities throughout the Front Range, as well as statewide. They allow students to work on laptops simultaneously so they can stay on top of their schoolwork. See the full list of Lift Zones here with sites that include:
- Denver Parks and Recreation Center
- City of Aurora recreation centers
- Boys & Girls Clubs – 8 locations in the Denver Metro area with plans to expand to broader Colorado communities in 2021
- Girls Inc. of Metro Denver
This awesome program complements Comcast’s Internet Essentials program which has helped connect 300,000 low-income people to the Internet at home since it was launched a decade ago. For as little as $9.95/month + tax, families can get connected to the Internet with payment plans available.
Grants and Learning Labs
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser in partnership with Comcast announced grants and resources valued at $150,000 to better support safety and digital literacy programs in Colorado that will help distribute laptops to non-profits and schools and provide online safety programming and resources.
Additionally, the City of Denver’s four Learning Labs have given low-income kids ages 8-14 free tutorial services as well as breakfast, lunch and snacks since August. Comcast’s Lift Zones will enhance the services the Learning Labs are providing
As I watched the Internet Essentials Impact on Education webinar, I was deeply moved by these partnerships between the private and public sectors as they reach deeper into our community to help those in need. Let’s all do our part to ensure we’re taking care of the most vulnerable in our communities.
In partnership with Mile High Mamas.