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94 Philanthropy Articles | Page: | Show All

PowerCorpsPHL is improving parklands, enhancing watersheds and changing lives

Thanks in part to $200 million in funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the agency that funds AmeriCorps, Philadelphia is home to an innovative new initiative. PowerCorpsPHL is helping to improve local parklands and watersheds while also acting as a violence prevention strategy for young adults aged 18 to 26.
The program got its start when Philadelphia was awarded a $636,000 grant -- one of just six nationwide -- from the CNCS program known as the Governor & Mayor Initiative. Matching funds brought the program's annual budget to $2.1 million.
PowerCorpsPHL's goal is multipronged, but at its core is an effort to engage young people. According to Julia Hillengas of the Mayor's Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service, the program was developed as way to integrate low-income and underserved young people back into the community, while also providing them with the sort of technical training and job experiences that could lead to skilled employment at the end of each the program's six-month run.
Two city agencies are currently partnering with the program; one PowerCorps crew is managing stormwater with the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), while the remaining four crews plant trees and revitalize public land with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR).

After serving for six months, the approximately 50 AmeriCorps crew members -- who are funneled into the program from agencies that assist youths who've had legal trouble, or who've recently come out of the city's foster system as adults -- receive three months of job placement support.
According to the PWD's Christine Knapp, the program could provide a recruiting funnel for the large number of skilled positions the city will soon need to fill as baby boomers retire en masse. 

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Julia Hillengas, Mayor's Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service 

Impact Hub, a socially-conscious co-working space, opens in Olde Kensington

Philadelphia's co-working scene has matured considerably over the past half-decade. Back in 2006, the Old City-based Indy Hall was literally the only non-corporate option available to self-employed creatives wanting to share their work days with like-minded professionals. 

But this Thursday, February 13, the local outpost of a worldwide, socially-conscious network known as Impact Hub will be celebrating the grand opening of its Olde Kensington office, known as Impact Hub Philly. (Flying Kite's publisher, Michelle Freeman, is a founding member.) They have taken over the beautiful former 3rd Ward space at 4th and Thompson.

Self-described as "part innovation lab, part business incubator, and part community center...for companies that seek social or environmental change," Impact Hub was conceived in 2005 after a group of London-based activists grew tired of gathering in cafés and members' living rooms. They rented a space, and decided to expand their circle with others who were also trying to build a better world. 

"That was [essentially] 'Hub Beta,' or 'Hub 1.0,'" says Jeff Shiau, who relocated from Northern California, where he worked with both the Berkeley and San Francisco Hubs, to launch the organization's Philly headquarters. Today, 55 Impact Hub communities are active worldwide, with locations as far afield as Johannesburg, Tel Aviv, Athens and Bucharest.

Here in Philadelphia, the change-making members include youth-empowerment groups, a socially-minded law firm, an eco-friendly energy company and a philanthropic organization, among a slew of others.

According to Shiau, who prefers to think of his role in the Hub community as that of a "Sherpa, or a guide who's in service to others," the overarching plan is "to truly stir the community" -- especially the South Kensington community the Philly Hub calls home. 

Tickets for Thursday's launch party have all been snapped up, but you can still join the wait list on Impact Hub's website.  

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Jeff Shiau, Impact Hub Philly

Small But Mighty Arts announces its first roster of micro-grant recipients

If you're involved in Philadelphia's creative community and ever find yourself struggling to afford art supplies or finance your next project, you need to know about Small But Mighty Arts

SBMA is a relatively new arts-funding organization that officially launched in 2012 thanks to $60,000 from the Knight Arts Challenge. (Disclosure: Flying Kite's publisher, Michelle Freeman, sits on SBMA's Board of Advisors.) It offers modest cash grants to local independent artists.

Founder Erica Hawthorne, a vocalist and spoken-word artist who goes by the stage name RhapsodE, relocated from Minneapolis to Philadelphia "purposely to be a part of the creative scene here." According to her, many creative types -- especially those with day jobs -- aren't in the position to compete for big-money grants. 

"When you're a creative person, you can easily [spend] upwards of $200 a month on your art form, just caring for it and pursing it," she says. "That's a [major] added expense." 

Just last week, five local artists in four separate disciplines were announced as SBMA's first official micro-grant recipients. Three of them -- a filmmaker, a tap dancer and a video documentarian -- received $500 each. The founder of a small theater company was awarded $450 and a second filmmaker was granted $300.  

The artists already have plans for their micro-grants. Michael Durkin of The Renegade Company, for instance, plans to pay his actors and rent studio time for theater rehearsals. Tatiana Bacchus, who's making a feature film, will be using her cut for archival photo and video licensing, and to pay for a research assistant. 

"As resourceful artists, [we're] used to doing a lot with a little," says Pamela Hetherington of Philly Tap Teaser. Like Durkin, she'll be paying collaborators and renting theater space with her grant. "It feels amazing to have an organization like SBMA support the work that I've done over the last six years. I'm still very surprised that I won!"

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Erica Hawthorne, Small But Mighty Arts

Hacking for good gets a prominent showcase

To the general public, the term "hacking" might still invoke isolated rogues in dark rooms. However, in Philadelphia’s thriving coding community, hacking for good has become so common that Technical.ly Philly is hosting an event to showcase the best projects that have come out of hackathons in the past year. On December 6, they will present the Civic Hacks of 2013 Demo Night.

"Civic hacking is the act of using simple technical solutions to address or better understand bigger social problems," says Corinne Warnshuis, events coordinator at Technical.ly Philly. "I think people are becoming more familiar with the concept, but I do think there may still be some negative associations with the term ‘hacking’ in the broader population. To those people, I would say come out to the demo night or a hackathon to learn more about the process."

The demo night will feature five of the most interesting online tools created at hackathons such as Random Hacks of Kindness, Day of Civic Hacking and Code for Philly meetups. Presenters include Mjumbe Poe from Councilmatic and myPhillyRising; Kathryn Killebrew of OpenTripPlanner; Ben Garvey from Bulldog Budget; and Amy Laura Cahn from Grounded in Philly

Warnshuis is particularly excited to hear from Councilmatic, which aims to get regular citizens more involved with the city's legislative process. She beleives that all civically-minded citizens can help create apps to better understand the city.

"You don't have to be a developer to participate,” she says. “Some great projects are the result of ideas from those with deeper understanding of some specific social or civic issue. I think there's a place for everyone at hackathons, and the Civic Hacks Demo Night is a great entry point to find out more about them."

Civic Hacks of 2013 Demo Night will take place 6:30 - 8 p.m. December 6 at O3 World, 1339 Frankford Ave., Suite 3.

Writer: Nicole Woods
Source: Corinne Warnshuis, Technical.ly Philly

Catchafire, pro-bono matchmaker, expands to Philadelphia

Another national organization focused on furthering social good is launching a Philadelphia outpost. New York City-based Catchafire will announce its Founding Member Class at an official local launch on November 13. 

A for-profit social mission business and certified B Corporation, Catchafire empowers existing nonprofits and social enterprises to achieve their goals. Catchafire does this by connecting talented individuals who want to volunteer their services with organizations in need of pro-bono work.

Over the last six months, Catchafire has partnered with a small group of nonprofit leaders and organizations in the city, including the Children's Crisis Treatment Center, the Center for Literacy and Philadelphia FIGHT. Locals helped the group understand the city's volunteer and nonprofit landscape, culture and challenges.

"We have been impressed by the passion and professionalism of our current partners and the strength of the Philadelphia nonprofit community in general," says Adrienne Schmoeker, a corportate accounts lead at Catchafire. "We were eager to build on this early success by investing in Philadelphia in order to serve more organizations and volunteers across the region."

Catchafire asked community leaders to nominate two or three nonprofits or social enterprises. Nominees were interviewed and the Philadelphia Founding Member Class was selected.

Catchafire will celebrate its local launch at the headquarters of one of those 28 Founding Members -- Impact Hub Philly. They're also new to the city, having recently taken over the former 3rd Ward space in South Kensington. (Flying Kite publisher Michelle Freeman works out of Impact Hub.)

"They also share our values in building a strong, efficient and effective social good community," says Schmoeker. "Catchafire provides resources for nonprofit organizations to connect with talent, and Impact Hub Philly's physical and digital spaces allow leaders to dialogue with one another and to collaborate for the greater good."

Several founding members are already launching projects with volunteer professionals; these include a business plan writing project at the Center for Literacy; a Culture Coaching project at Philadelphia FIGHT; a brand messaging project with Tech Impact; a fundraising plan project with the Philadelphia Center for Arts & Technology (PCAT); and a print materials redesign at the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians.

Catchafire plans to engage others in the Philadelphia nonprofit community over the next few months.

Writer: Nicole Woods
Source: Adrienne Schmoeker, Catchafire

State of Young Philly 2013 offers new opportunities for young activists

Narcissistic. Apathetic. Cynical. State of Young Philly (SOYP), the annual, week-long activist celebration from Young Involved Philadelphia (YIP), rails against the unfortunate descriptors often associated with generation Y. This year, events run from Friday, October 25 through Saturday, November 2.
"There are a lot of articles out there stereotyping young people as the 'me' generation," says Mike Kaiser, Events Chair for YIP. “When you come out to YIP events, it's a totally different picture. We're trying to challenge that [perception]."
The week focuses on civic skill-building. Highlights include an opening night reception and civic engagement fair featuring Campus Philly, Groundswell, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, Need in Deed, Impact HUB Philly, the People's Emergency Center, and many others; Navigate Philly, a series of short presentations by local leaders on topics such as politics, media and education; Sustainability Night, an instructional event on recycling, composting and waste disposal; Get a Job, featuring advice from human resource professionals; and a "Welcome to Philly" happy hour featuring a "minimalist" Halloween costume contest.
Then, on November 2, YIP will host their first civic engagement un-conference. Participants will be encouraged to share ideas and best-practices.
"We know there are people out there making progress and positive change in Philly," says Kaiser. "This is a chance to bring everyone together to share that knowledge. We're trying to accelerate ideas and connections."
Last January, YIP's new board launched a quarterly "Learn, Grow, Do" series. It introduces Philly activists to fundamentals such as first-time home buying, networking and park cleaning. SOYP will give existing members the chance to reflect on their progress and engage new potential members.
"It really reaffirms that what we're doing matters," says Kaiser. "For new people it’s, 'Here’s something simple you can do to join this movement.'"
Source: Mike Kaiser, Young Involved Philadelphia
Writer: Dana Henry

CauseHub, social sharing site for local organizations, gains international attention

There are countless local organizations around the world working on issues such as hunger, environmental protection, human rights and other imperative challenges. CauseHub.com, a social platform founded by Pennsbury High School student Ashvika Dhir, helps small-scale change-makers discuss common goals and share best practices.

Back in March, Dhir was the first high school student to present at IgnitePhilly. Since then, she has crowdsourced $4000 through LuckyAnt, added over 10 partner non-government organizations (NGOs) to the site and become one of the youngest innovators (and one of only fifty in the United States) to win this year's Global Startup Youth Scholarship.

Dhir developed the concept for CauseHub while volunteering at Mother Teresa, an orphanage in India.

"I realized these small ideas in India had no way of contacting people across the world," she says. "With Causehub, people can share in one specific location all having to do with causes."

To help these organizations publicize their work, CauseHup offers NGOs, collectives and individuals their own networking page. The site draws content from contributors in Columbia, Kenya, India and Philadelphia.

"I wanted the user to be in charge," says Dhir. "There are other blogs that talk about content and inform people, but I wanted to create a space where people could honestly discuss any cause they’re interested in."

Dhir continues to grow CauseHub's user base by tapping family members in India, drawing on international contacts and using word of mouth. She hopes the site will develop into a media outlet for charities, helping individuals find local opportunities for volunteering and educational events.

Source: Ashvika Dihr, CauseHub
Writer: Dana Henry

Inventing the Future: Azavea 'Summer of Maps' program brings GIS power to local organizations

Every day, city agencies from the Streets Department to the Office of Housing and Community Development collect data that details the current state of Philadelphia. Thanks to Azavea, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) experts located in Callowhill, several civic-minded nonprofit groups can now "see" that information.

The company just wrapped up their Summer of Maps Fellowship, a stipend program that placed graduate-level GIS students with urban advocacy organizations. Recipients of the pro-bono services included The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, The Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children, The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and The Greater Philadelphia Coalition against Hunger.  

During the program, Tyler Dahlberg, who studies GIS for Development and Environment at Clark University, created web maps for the Bicycle Coalition that made use of raw data from the Philadelphia Police Department, the Philadelphia Department of Transportation and the coalition's independent research. The resulting map illustrates where people ride, where accidents happen and how the risk of bike theft varies (according to time of week and the time of year).

"It's an advocacy tool for them," says Dahlberg. "They can continue with the data and do their own research as well."
The Bicycle Coalition hopes the new tool will help them lobby City Council and the Department of Transportation to protect cyclists in Philadelphia.
Dahlberg also worked with the Coalition Against Hunger to locate potential food stamp recipients, pinpointing subgroups including children, the elderly, disabled people and immigrants. The tool will help the organization maximize their budget by targeting their marketing and volunteer outreach at neighborhoods dense with potential clients.
"It really expands the toolset that nonprofits have available for their decision making process," explains Dahlberg. "These nonprofits have a lot of data, but it's hard to analyze it. Being able to see the data visualized on a map really opens up new avenues."

The University City Science Center has partnered with Flying Kite to showcase innovation in Greater Philadelphia through the "Inventing the Future" series.
Source: Tyler Dahlberg, Azavea
Writer: Dana Henry

The GreenLight Fund, a growing network of best-practice nonprofits, launches in Philadelphia

When the GreenLight Fund, a Boston-based nonprofit network for children and families, decided it was time to expand, they searched nationally for the right city. After a year of research and many lengthy visits, they chose Philadelphia.
The fund has launched with $2.3 million dedicated to establishing two nonprofits -- Single Stop USA and Year Up -- in the region.
"A lot of it came down to where there was receptivity, where were folks excited about the model -- Philadelphia rose to the top of that process," says Matt Joyce, executive director of the GreenLight Fund Philadelphia. (Joyce works out of The Exchange, a coworking space for the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors recently profiled in Flying Kite).
To effect change on a local level, GreenLight works with community leadership to identify needs, then searches nationally for best-practice programs they can import. In Philadelphia, they met with members of city government, the Philadelphia Youth Network, the Philadelphia Education Fund, and the Community College of Philadelphia. From these discussions, college persistence and workforce development were identified as central issues for local youth.
The program is partially funded through the Social Innovation Fund, a federal program. Additional funding was provided by the William Penn Foundation, the Barra Foundation and the Bank of America Foundation.
GreenLight has operated in Boston since 2004, where they’ve established seven programs -- all are still operating and some have become independently sustainable.
"We were looking for an appetite for innovation and new ideas," says Joyce. "Among the folks we talked to, there was a lot of interest in trying to get some of the best ideas from around the country launched in Philadelphia."
Source: Matt Joyce, The Green Light Fund
Writer: Dana Henry

Innovative private-public partnership earns $1 million in Bloomberg Philanthropies' Mayors Challenge

Last summer, while launching the city's Office of New Urban Mechanics [ONUM], Story Bellows and Jeff Friedman met with Philadelphia’s top social impact organizations. This process led to the idea of private-public collaboration with Good Company Group [GCG], a local incubator for environmental and social entrepreneurship.

The resulting concept, the Philadelphia Social Enterprise Partnership [PSEP], provides opportunities for entrepreneurs who want to tackle traditional public sector problems such as storm water management, gun violence and education. This past Wednesday, the group's proposal was one of five (out of 300) awarded $1 million in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge.
Two-to-three times per year, a PSEP advisory board will help the mayor’s office identify a key issue -- and the associated costs -- and provide a framework for startup proposals. During each session, ten applicants will access incubation services, data and information from related city departments, and coaching from public sector industry experts.  
"It's looking at problems that [city] government has, that drain a lot of resources, and reframing them as market opportunities," says Zoe Selzer, executive director at GCG. "It's not targeting one specific challenge -- it's creating a system that can target a lot of different challenges." 
PSEP partners include GCV, ONUM, the Wharton Social Impact Initiative and the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology. The application to the Mayor's Challenge was overseen by Maari Porter, Chief Grants Officer for Philadelphia. According to Selzer, PSEP’s inclusion of non-government leadership was unique among Bloomberg finalists.
To refine the concept, the partners worked on government procurement strategies and established the need for pilot contracts (in lieu of grants) to support social startups. They encourage applications from Greater Philadelphia and across the country.
"It's a huge validation of the work we’ve been doing," says Selzer. "We really believe this is our opportunity to position Philadelphia as a national hub for social enterprise and as a place where [social] entrepreneurs grow and test their ideas and then spread those ideas around the country and around the world."

Source: Zoe Selzer, Good Company Group; Story Bellows, Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics
Writer: Dana Henry

Inventing the Future: Drexel launches groundbreaking school to educate young entrepreneurs

Drexel University has been making headlines as a leading innovator in higher education. In addition to launching the Center for Visual and Decision Informatics, the school spearheaded the ExCITe Center (featured in the December 4 issue of Flying Kite). Now they’re taking it a step further, announcing the foundation of the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship, slated to open in fall 2013. 

The curriculum has not been officially announced, but founding dean Dr. Donna DeCarolis says Close will put less emphasis on traditional business programing. Instead, the new school will stress actionable skills such as teamwork and inter-disciplinary collaboration. Students will develop expertise in a particular discipline -- whether it's engineering, science or the arts -- while building business know-how.

"It’s important in a very broad way that we teach our students how to be entrepreneurial in their personal and professional lives," says DeCarolis.

The Close School was founded with a $12.5 million endowment from the Charles and Barbara Close Foundation. It is one of the first freestanding schools devoted to entrepreneurship in the country. Close will offer incoming freshman a "living and learning community" where students dorm together and engage in venture-related activities. Sophomores and juniors can opt for an "entrepreneurship co-op," and receive funding and mentorship to work exclusively on their new enterprise.

Entrepreneurship, explains DeCarolis, is not just about starting a business. The ability to develop an idea and follow it through is increasingly valuable. Even within the corporate structure, today’s executives look to their employees for new ideas and a demonstrated ability to innovate.

It's also about flexibility. "Students that graduate today, by the time they're in their forties, will have had ten or so jobs," says DeCarolis. "Many of those jobs will be self-employment."

Source: Donna DeCarolis, Drexel's Close School of Entrepreneurship
Writer: Dana Henry

Goldman Sachs gives $10 million boost to Philly small businesses

Philadelphia may be anchored by "eds and meds," but our small businesses -- web design firms, equipment manufacturers, eateries and shops -- help keep us afloat. According to the Sustainable Business Network's Taking Care of Business 2011 report, of the city's 90,000 businesses, 98 percent report less than 50 employees.

Some of those businesses will soon be getting a boost: Philadelphia was recently chosen for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Business Initiative which will provide up to $10 million in small business loans administered through the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC).
PIDC can serve a broader lending market than a traditional bank. According to Anne Nevins, Senior Vice President of Market Development for PIDC, promising businesses are sometimes held back by issues with credit or collateral. They may also be changing direction and appear risky to financial institutions. "We want to serve those businesses that are established and ready for a growth plan but for whatever reason can’t access the capital," says Nevins.
PIDC expects to serve several businesses in the manufacturing and professional service sectors needing $50,000 to $750,000 for new equipment, property, and working capital. They also identify restaurants, retail stores and revenue-earning nonprofits as potential benefactors. Nevins expects many applicants to be referred to PIDC from partner banks.
In total, PIDC expects to underwrite approximately fifty loans averaging $200,000, giving priority to businesses located in low to moderate income neighborhoods or those that employ lower to moderate income residents. Lancaster-based Community First Fund will provide up to $5 million in similar loans to 13 counties in southeastern Pennsylvania. Goldman Sachs is also funding financial and operational education offered by Philadelphia Community College and support services through partner community groups for loan recipients. 
Since launching in Spring 2010, over 1,000 businesses in eleven cities have completed the program. Roughly 70 percent report increased revenues and 50 percent have created new jobs. 

Source: Anne Nevins, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation 
Writer: Dana Henry

Girl Develop It Philly gears up for a higher profile in 2013

From meetups to coworking, the "better together" ethos is on the rise. For women in technology, the local peer support network continues to grow with Girl Geek Dinners, Tech Girlz, Web Start Women and Philly Women in Tech.

One such organization, Girl Develop It Philly, more than tripled its membership at the close of 2012. All sixteen GDI-Philly classes—which cover both soft skills and advanced programing—sold out, with most active members attending more than one class. 

Since establishing GDI-Philly in September 2011, Yasmine Mustafa, founder of 123Linkit and self-proclaimed "non-techie software entrepreneur" (Mustafa was profiled by Flying Kite in November 2011), has witnessed more women attending Philly Tech Meetup, Word Camp Philly and Lean Startup Machine Philly. One member landed a tech job at Center City-based ad agency Red Tettemer after completing GDI-Philly’s full roster of front-end development classes. Another member was hired by Zoe Rooney Web Development  after connecting with the founder through GDI-Philly. Many members credit their new skills for promotions and higher salaries.

While Mustafa says she can’t pinpoint exactly why membership spiked—some women sign up to supplement self-directed learning, others want to make a career change—she believes computer science is becoming more attractive to everyone. "You're stuck on developing something and then, suddenly, everything clicks," explains Mustafa. "It's an incredibly empowering feeling."

To match the growing interest, GDI-Philly beefed up their 2013 offerings with three learning trajectories: a comprehensive front end developer track (starting in January), an introductory back end developer track and a mobile Android/iOS  developer track (available in the spring). They’re also launching a mentorship program and a scholarship fund for their classes.  

For Mustafa, watching members develop and share success is the most rewarding part. "Besides educational reasons, the top reason members state that they signed up is to meet other technical women," she says.

Source: Yasmine Mustafa, Girl Develop It Philly
Writer: Dana Henry

Job Alert: Holiday sales spike for Charity Gift Market

The preponderance of local gift guides, handmade marketplaces and gift-making workshops indicates that the buying public is ready for alternative ways to celebrate. It's in that spirit that the Camden-based Charity Gift Market was born. The online marketplace allows humanitarian nonprofits to sell handmade wares directly; the organizations keep 92 percent of the profits. (Most charitable marketplaces, by comparison, donate a percentage of the proceeds, usually less than 15 percent.) Halfway into their second holiday season, sales are up 300 percent and the new company continues attracting partners.
Purchasers select by "product," "charity" or "cause." Say your sister works in public health and just had a baby? Charity Gift Market might lead you to a quilt made from saris and stuffed with recycled clothes, created by a mother in India working from home to provide nutritious food and medical care for her family.
"It brings charity into the larger marketplace of commerce," says co-founder Lindsey Markelz. "People are generally quite selective in giving donations to charity, but they may find a product they like on Charity Gift Market and, thereby, provide additional support to that charity's work."
For the organizations-in-need, Charity Gift Market is generally their first and only means of online vending. A personal thank you letter from the charity—often including artisan and product information along with the backstory—accompanies purchases. In one year, over 15 percent of buyers have become repeat customers.
The site was launched in June 2011. Markelz—who is also founding director of UrbanPromise—met husband and co-founder, Andy Markelz, who teaches special education in South Philly, while working for the Peace Corps. The couple dreamed up Charity Gift Market during Christmas of 2010, when their hunt for perfect conscientious gifts proved cumbersome.
"We started toying with the idea of creating a marketplace for products created and sold by charities so that socially-oriented consumers could find them," explains Markelz.
Since then, fifty small-to-mid-sized organizations, including Ardmore-based Profugo, Prosperity Candle, Freedom Stones, and Women's Bean Project, have opened online shops. Many work internationally to support opportunities for women and families. 
Charity Gift Market is currently looking for a Chief Technology Office (CTO). As they grow, Markelz says they are proud to forge connections between customers and causes.
"Visitors love the story on each product page," says Markelz. "They know where their money goes and that their purchase directly helps others."

Source: Lindsey Markelz, Charity Gift Market
Writer: Dana Henry

Comcast Internet Essentials, for low-income residents, enters year two with expanded program

Comcast celebrates the first anniversary of its Internet Essentials Program, declaring it a great success, and is now moving into year two. "In less than a year we've signed up over 100,000 families," says Comcast Corporation Executive Vice President David L. Cohen, who multiplies that number to estimate the number of individuals accessing the low cost service at 400,000. 
The average family pays upwards of $150 per month for Comcast's Triple Play package, making home internet access a luxury that's out of reach for the region's many low-income households. But Cohen notes that getting on the web is increasingly vital for employment, services and information. In sheer numbers, adoption for avagerage income Americans is somewhere around 75 to 80%, but for low-income families, the number drops dramatically to under 25%.
Comcast calls Internet Essentials the largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program anywhere in America, providing low-cost broadband service for $9.95 a month, the option to purchase a full-service, Internet ready computer for under $150 and options for digital literacy training in print, online or in-person for eligible families.
New this year are expanded benefits for children enrolled in reduced school lunch programs. Also, says Cohen, Comcast is looking to create an echo chamber effect, getting out information through word of mouth at churches and schools, though neighbors, and via increased reliance on nonprofit partners like OIC.
Cohen adds that it's even easier to sign up this year, and Comcast will follow up with potential customers. "As a public policy matter, it's inconceivable that the ability to access internet should be determined by where you live or your parents' income. This program is designed to level access the playing field."
Interested families can call 855-8-INTERNET, or 855-846-8376, to get started.

Source: David L. Cohen, Comcast
Writer: Sue Spolan
94 Philanthropy Articles | Page: | Show All
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