The following is a good ol’-fashioned news release, developed with the Foundation for Tacoma Students, KBTC, and other partners, to support an announcement event in Tacoma on March 4.
COMCAST TO INVEST $50,000 IN GRANTS AND IN-KIND SUPPORT IN TACOMA TO ENHANCE DIGITAL LEARNING; COMPANY ALSO EXTENDS ITS NATIONAL BROADBAND ADOPTION PROGRAM FOR LOW-INCOME FAMILIES
Non-Profit Partners in Tacoma to Receive Comcast Grants to Create Internet Essentials Learning Zone Helping to Bridge the Digital Divide
[Tacoma, WA] – March 4, 2014. Comcast announced today it is providing a $50,000 grant and in-kind support to the Foundation for Tacoma Students to help bridge the digital divide and boost summer learning in Tacoma this summer. The Tacoma grant is part of Comcast’s Gold Medal Recognition Program in which it is honoring the efforts of its community partners in communities across the country that have led the way in connecting families to home broadband through Internet Essentials. Comcast is making more than $1 million in grants to dozens of non-profit partners to create “Internet Essentials Learning Zones.”
Tacoma’s grant will contribute to the Graduate Tacoma! movement being built by the Foundation to achieve the shared community goal of increasing the high school graduation rate by 50% by 2020. Tacoma’s learning zone will use the web to engage more kids in fun ways to exercise their minds during the summer so they don’t fall behind. This will include:
- SummerLearningTacoma.org. Creating an online Summer Learning Hub where families and students can find engaging learning activities both online and throughout the community this summer. The website SummerLearningTacoma.org will be live mid-March and will include summer camps, arts and science programs, summer schools and other learning activities as well as the best websites for online learning games and programs.
- Ready to Learn Camps for Kids with Mobile Learning Lab. KBTC Public Television will host three two-week PBS KIDS Ready to Learn camps at various locations in the eastside of Tacoma for kids in kindergarten through third grade. Inviting elementary students to take part in PBS KIDS transmedia content created through the Ready to Learn initiative, KBTC will target reading and math skills and work to prevent the summer slide. As part of this grant, KBTC will purchase a suite of iPads to infuse digital learning into the camps and neighborhood with content from PBS KIDS. In addition, KBTC will bring a Mobile Technology Lab to Salishan twice a week to supplement and diversify the Brown Bags and Books summer program, encouraging access to educational resources throughout the summer months. With two years of success with a pilot program in the Hilltop Neighborhood, KBTC is excited to expand the program
- Digital Literacy Training. Partnering with Tacoma Urban League (TUL) for digital literacy training for families. Young people already involved in TUL’s Comcast Digital Connectors program will share their knowledge with parents who want to develop basic computer skills and help support their child’s learning, including accessing online grades and finding summer learning opportunities.
Comcast is also recognizing Seattle as a community for doing a great job to bridge the digital divide; look for more info on what’s happening with those grant dollars in an announcement soon.
Also, Internet-Essentials eligible families in King and Pierce County who are not currently customers can receive six months of complimentary Internet service if they apply for the program by March 18, 2014. (note: this has since been extended through March 25, 2014) The families simply need to call 1-855-846-8376 or visit www.InternetEssentials.com. For Spanish, they may call 1-855-765-6995 or visit www.InternetBasico.com.
Additionally, Comcast also announced it has extended Internet Essentials indefinitely – beyond its initial three-year commitment. In just two and a half years, the initiative has connected more than 1.2 million low-income Americans, or 300,000 families, to the power of broadband Internet. This includes nearly 1,252 families (roughly 5,000 people) within the footprint of the Tacoma School District and more than 14,200 households in the state of Washington.
Children and parents present at today’s announcement were able to sample online learning opportunities, along with representatives of the Mayor’s Office, the Tacoma Schools Superintendent’s Office, Foundation for Tacoma Students, KBTC- Public Television, Tacoma Urban League and Tacoma Housing Authority.
“We all want all Tacoma students to become more digitally literate so they can enhance their education and utilize everything the Internet has to offer. We know that disconnected children and families do not benefit from a quality of life that should be guaranteed to them. That’s why collaboration is so important. It is critically important to digitally connect families and students. And this cannot happen without viable partnerships like this with Comcast, the Foundation for Public Schools, and others,” said Tacoma Deputy Mayor Victoria Woodards.
“Fighting summer learning loss is just one of the strategies in the cradle to career Graduate Tacoma! effort being built by the Foundation for Tacoma Students” explained Eric Wilson, President of the Foundation. “Graduate Tacoma’s goal is to increase both high school graduation rates and post-secondary completion rates by 50% by the Class of 2020, while closing gaps in opportunity and achievement.”
“In addition to fighting summer learning loss, the Learning Zone activities will help students meet key academic benchmarks, including Reading at or Above Grade Level by 3rd grade,” Wilson continued, “ and also increase parent engagement, another indicator of Graduate Tacoma!”
KBTC has offered summer camps on the Hilltop for the last several years in partnership with Peace Community Center and Tacoma Housing Authority. The new funds from Comcast will allow them to bring camps featuring a mobile learning lab to neighborhood sites in East Tacoma.
“We use what’s called a Transmedia approach,” explained Ann Dyer, KBTC Community Engagement Associate. “We engage kids in a single story across multiple media platforms– television, video game, or website, and hands-on learning activities. Each way of learning contributes to the user’s understanding.” National research has shown that the PBS Kids Ready to Learn content boosts literacy development, and math vocabulary and skills, and in some cases has helped close achievement gaps between low-income and middle-class students.
“Building upon past success and informed by best practices we have helped develop, KBTC is pleased to partner with Comcast and the Foundation for Tacoma Students to expand our work with our Ready To Learn partners,” Ed Ulman, KBTC General Manager, said. “These funds will allow us to development three new summer camps using PBSKids educational content that is proven to improve math, literacy, STEM, and social emotional skills.”
Announced in May 2011, Internet Essentials is designed to meet the needs of a specific population – low-income families with school-age children who are not currently connected to broadband Internet at home. The grants in Tacoma will enable these communities to create a continuum of connectivity— or “Internet Essentials Learning Zones” — that begin in the classroom with wired schools, follow the students to wired libraries, wired computer centers, and wired after-school programs, and end in wired homes when the day is done. However, no single program will completely close the digital divide.
About Internet Essentials:
Internet Essentials from Comcast is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program. It provides low-cost broadband service for $9.95 a month plus tax; the option to purchase an Internet-ready computer for under $150; and multiple options to access free digital literacy training in print, online, and in-person. Eligible families must have at least one child eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program, including public, parochial, private, and homeschool students. We estimate a total of approximately 2.6 million eligible families live in our service area and therefore could apply for Internet Essentials.
About Comcast Cable:
Comcast Cable is the nation’s largest video, high-speed Internet and phone provider to residential customers under the XFINITY brand and also provides these services to businesses. Comcast has invested in technology to build an advanced network that delivers among the fastest broadband speeds, and brings customers personalized video, communications and home management offerings. Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is a global media and technology company. Visitwww.comcastcorporation.com for more information.