Emerald South and Comcast Launch South Side Connectivity Collaborative, an Internet Connectivity Initiative Focused on South Side Areas of Chicago

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Thousands of residents in four neighborhoods on the south side are expected to benefit from additional opportunities to connect to the internet for schoolwork, digital skills training, access to services and job search.

Emerald South Economic Development Collaborative and Comcast today announced the launch of the South Side Connectivity Collaborative (SSCC). Powered by Comcast, the new initiative is designed to connect more residents of four South Side neighborhoods to the internet through a combination of new resources and existing programs. Neighborhoods include Bronzeville, Grand Boulevard, Washington Park, and Woodlawn.

“Our goal is to connect more South Side residents by giving them more opportunities to access reliable high-speed internet at locations within their communities and by educating them on how they can connect to the home through existing broadband adoption programs, ”said Emerald South CEO Ghian Foreman. “Participating organizations come together to both increase connectivity in locations across the four neighborhoods and play a leading role for Chicago families as they develop digital and other skills that will help them succeed in school. and in the labor market. “

Comcast Lift Zones will connect children and adults to the Internet at community centers across four neighborhoods

Over the next few months, Comcast will launch 11 “lift zones” at community organizations (CBOs) in all four neighborhoods. Lift Zones are WiFi-enabled secure spaces where students can go online to do homework and adults can go online to learn digital skills, access government and other important services, and search for jobs. SSCC Lift Zone locations include:

  • Black Star Project, 3509 S. Martin Luther King Dr., in Bronzeville
  • Concord Community Organization, 6319 S. Kimbark Ave. at Woodlawn
  • Bright Star Community Outreach, 735 East 44e Street in Bronzeville *
  • Centers for New Horizons (four locations), 4150 and 4305 S. Martin Luther King Dr. in Bronzeville, and 4301 S. Cottage Grove Ave. and 226 E. 43e Grand Boulevard Street
  • Equality should be normal, 239 E. 51st Street in Washington Park
  • Future Ties, 6418 S. Martin Luther King Dr. in Woodlawn
  • KLEO Community Family Life Center, 119 E. Garfield Blvd., in Washington Park *
  • Project Hood, 6620 S. Martin Luther King Dr., at Woodlawn

* The Lift Zones in these locations opened in December 2020 and will be part of the SSCC Lift Zone network.

“KLEO was proud to partner with Comcast to open one of the country’s first Lift Zones in December 2020,” said Ereatha McCullough, Executive Director of KLEO. “Since then, hundreds of people have come and connected to the reliable high-speed internet on site. This has been especially important for children participating in distance learning programs and families who need a community resource during the pandemic. Without Lift Zone, some children would not have been able to go to school or participate in KLEO’s youth programs, so important for their development and for the future of our city.

Comcast to provide funds and laptops to participating community organizations

In addition to the Lift Zones, Comcast will provide a total of $ 60,000 in donations to participating SSCC CBOs to support digital skills training and other programs and services. The company will also donate laptops to Lift Zone host organizations for use by families.

SSCC to educate area residents about existing broadband adoption programs and other digital resources

Emerald South and Comcast will partner with participating community organizations to educate residents on existing programs that can connect – and keep – families connected to the Internet at home, ranging from the City of Chicago’s Chicago Connected program and public schools Chicago’s (CPS) program from Comcast’s Internet Essentials Program to the Federal Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB). Through Chicago Connected, Comcast’s Internet Essentials Partner Program (IEPP) has partnered with CPS and dozens of CBOs to connect tens of thousands of students to the internet during the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to work. ‘partner to expand access to Chicago families. Comcast is also working with 75 other regional school districts, government agencies, and nonprofits to ensure connectivity is available to qualified student hostels.

Internet Essentials is a low-cost, high-speed home Internet service widely available to low-income families, seniors, veterans, students, people with disabilities, and others participating in public assistance programs ranging from Medicaid to Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) to Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Housing Assistance Programs. Many Chicago households are eligible to have their internet service subsidized by EBB, a temporary federal government subsidy program designed to help low-income households connect to the internet and stay connected during the COVID crisis. -19. Under the EBB, eligible households can receive a monthly credit of up to $ 50 / month (up to $ 75 / month for tribal land customers) for their Internet service and Internet equipment rented up to. ‘when program funding is exhausted.

Internet Essentials celebrates its 10e anniversary this year. Since its launch in 2011, the program has connected more than 10 million people nationwide, including more than one million Illinois residents alone, to the internet at home. Comcast plans to open more than 1,000 Lift Zones across the country by the end of this year – with more than 60 in the Chicago area and locations in central Illinois and northwestern Illinois. ‘Indiana.

“These neighborhoods have the infrastructure available to connect households to the Internet today, but we need to connect families to resources, such as Chicago Connected, Internet Essentials, and Emergency Broadband Benefit, to activate this incredible equity tool.” said Chicago 4e The alderman of the Sophia King parish. “The SSCC will not only help residents learn more about these programs, but the Lift Zones will add an important new layer by providing high-speed Internet access and educational content in safe spaces in nearly a dozen new community locations. . “

“Collaborative is an amazing vehicle that shows what happens when communities, nonprofits, and businesses like Comcast come together to solve important issues like digital equity,” Chicago said 3e Ward Alderman Pat Dowell. “The SSCC will not only have a positive impact on the south side, it will serve as an example of how the parties can come together for the betterment of the communities they serve. “

“We recognize that having the Internet at home can change lives. Our goal as a member of the collaboration is to put digital equity at the center of communities by working with our partners to ensure Chicago families know there are multiple options for bringing broadband into their homes, ” said Matthew Summy, regional vice president of Comcast External and Government Affairs. “I’m proud that Comcast recognized the impact of the digital divide early on and continues to escalate, this time partnering with Emerald South and other southern community organizations to deliver real solutions such as SSCC and Lifts. Areas that can strengthen communities. ”

Comcast continues to provide two months of free service to new Internet Essentials customers who sign up by June 30, 2022. Comcast has also extended free access to its 1.5 million Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots. public across the country to anyone who needs them, including non-customers, until the end of 2021. Hotspots are located in public places, ranging from small businesses and parks to transportation hubs, and are added to the ski lift areas.

For more information on Lift Zones and to find locations near you, click here.


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