Comcast Stepping Up To Help Families Weather COVID-19: The Private Sector Engagement We Need

MANA students advocating for representation on Capitol Hill

In the past month, Americans have joined our fellow humans across the globe in coming to terms with what the spread of COVID-19 will mean for our everyday lives. As states make emergency declarations, public events are increasingly getting cancelled, companies are mandating work from home, and schools are closing as precautions to prevent the further spread of the Novel Coronavirus, we are all facing major disruption to our lives and daily schedules. Families are worried about the impact to their finances, their children’s education, and their overall well-being. While difficult questions are being asked of government to step in and respond to the crisis, we are also seeing companies in the private sector making bold moves to accommodate these changes in real time.

Comcast Corporation made a major announcement today that will take some of this burden off families struggling to make ends meet, who may not have the means to absorb these changes. Through their Internet Essentials program, Comcast will begin providing free internet access for 60 days to low-income families in their footprint who do not currently have internet service in their homes. While many of us consider internet access a necessity, for far too many poor families, it is a luxury they simply cannot afford.

According to Pew Research Center, approximately 79% of suburban families have broadband access and can accommodate telework or their children completing schoolwork from home, but this is less of a reality for rural families. Only 63% of rural families have broadband access. This still means that 1 in 5 suburban families and 2 in 5 rural families are without broadband access. The emergency utility being provided by Comcast will give piece of mind to families that their children will be able to do their school work, and that they’ll be able to access up to date health and safety information. College students will be able complete their semester coursework. Adults will be able to work from home and care for children or family members.

This program has the potential to make an even more significant impact that will reverberate for the next decade. Poor, under-served communities, many of whom are currently without internet access, are often not counted in the U.S. Census. As we begin the 2020 Census count process, for the first time, we have the option to submit our information online. As Comcast connects these families to the internet to meet their immediate needs in this time of COVID-19, this gives them the additional opportunity to be counted in the 2020 Census from the convenience of their homes. As advocates, we see Comcast providing relief to families in need, while providing opportunity to shape the future of representation and public services like schools, hospitals, parks and more through participation in the Census.

The private sector has the resources to deploy into the community during times of need. This is the engagement we need to close the divide, get our communities counted, and build for a stronger future together. Comcast is leading the way.

President and CEO of MANA, A National Latina Organization