"Internet Essentials," a new Comcast broadband initiative to help bridge the digital divide in America, now is being offered to low-income families whose children are enrolled in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

Internet Essentials will provide families with low-cost monthly Internet service, an affordable computer and digital literacy training, available in both English and Spanish.

The program will be rolled out in more than 4,000 school districts within 39 states plus the District of Columbia. Comcast believes its new program could be “particularly impactful” in the Hispanic community, “given that Hispanic children make up almost one-third (32 percent) of all children receiving free lunches through the NSLP.”

According to Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen, “This program will not only help connect Hispanic students with their teachers and other educational resources, it will also help members of their households do things like apply for jobs online, improve language skills or learn more about healthcare services available where they live.”

A household is eligible to participate in the Internet Essentials program if it meets all of the following criteria:
 
>> Located where Comcast offers Internet service;
>> At least one child eligible to receive a free school lunch under the NSLP (as an example, according to the Department of Agriculture, a household of three would have to make less than $25,000 a year in income);
>> Has not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days; and
>> Does not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment.

Qualified Internet Essentials families will receive:
 
>> Residential Internet service for $9.95 a month plus applicable taxes;
>> A voucher to purchase a low-cost computer for $149.99 plus tax; and
>> Access to free digital literacy training in print, online and in person.

Additional benefits include a complimentary Norton Security Suite ($160 value) for comprehensive online security protection.

Comcast will sign eligible families in the program for at least three years, through the end of the 2013-14 school year. Any household that qualifies during this three-year period will remain eligible for Internet Essentials, provided a child eligible for a free lunch remains living in the household.

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