Thursday, October 15, 2009

Digital Connectors Will Build Today's Communities and Tomorrow's Leaders

By David L. Cohen

Executive Vice President, Comcast Corporation

We are strong believers in investing in stronger communities, and we’re in the midst of one of our most exciting community investment initiatives ever. Building on our partnership with One Economy, we recently launched the Comcast Digital Connectors program, an innovative initiative that teaches young people digital literacy skills and how to use broadband technologies to benefit their communities.

As America evolves into a truly digital nation, we think we have a responsibility to help ensure that all citizens of all backgrounds can use broadband to achieve their full potential. Helping more Americans learn the benefits of broadband (“digital literacy”) and getting more Americans to use it (“broadband adoption”) will make our communities and our nation stronger.

The Comcast Digital Connectors program integrates all of our core community investment priorities in one great opportunity. It promotes community service, expands digital literacy, and builds tomorrow’s leaders in many of the diverse communities we serve.

By the end of 2010, the Comcast Digital Connectors program will operate in at least 22 cities across America. In communities like Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Morgantown, WV, Dearborn, MI and Hanford, CA, groups of young people – aged 14 to 21 – from diverse, low-income backgrounds will be trained in digital literacy in both after-school and summertime training programs. Participants will team up with other Digital Connectors two to three times per week at their local school, community center or affordable housing development to work on what they have learned. Additionally, Comcast Digital Connectors will volunteer their time at a variety of locations (schools, churches, senior centers, etc.) to help promote digital literacy more broadly in their communities. Comcast employees across the country will have the opportunity to interact with Comcast Digital Connectors by serving as mentors and lending their leadership and expertise to local programs. And Digital Connectors across the nation will become part of an online social network where they will share their experiences and learn from each other.

This new program will take One Economy’s original Digital Connectors program to the next level. To date, nearly 3,000 young people have participated in Digital Connectors programs and have contributed more than 56,000 hours of community service. The One Economy-Comcast partnership aims to double the number of young people engaged in the program and the hours of service they provide their communities.

Expanding digital literacy and promoting broadband adoption are two critical national goals. As President Obama has said, “Here in the country that invented the Internet, every child should have the chance to get online.” In partnership with One Economy, we hope to bring many thousands more Americans into the digital age.

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