Commissioner Loretta Smith, Olympic Gold-medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Comcast and Self Enhancement Inc, partner to bridge digital divide

October 23, 2016

MEDIA ADVISORY

Contact: Jessica Morkert-Shibley/Multnomah County, 971-563-3735

COMMISSIONER LORETTA SMITH, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST JACKIE JOYNER-KERSEE, COMCAST & SELF ENHANCEMENT INC. PARTNER TO BRIDGE THE DIGITAL DIVIDE

Portland, Ore -- On Monday, October 24 Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, Olympic Gold Medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Comcast and Self Enhancement Inc. (SEI) will partner to help bridge the digital divide.  An “All Access” event will be held at Self Enhancement Inc, 3920 N Kerby Ave, Portland, OR 97227 from 5 to 7pm. Attendees at the event will be the teens who participate in SEI’s after school program along with a number of families who have qualified for participation in Comcast’s Internet Essentials program.  The evening will culminate with the distribution of 150 free laptops for pre-selected and pre-qualified teens and Internet Essentials families.

Comcast provides low-cost broadband service through its Internet Essentials program for $9.95 a month plus tax; plus 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.  Multnomah County, under the direction of Commissioner Loretta Smith, has partnered with Comcast to further offset the costs of laptops and internet service.  

According to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey, a third of American adults do not have high-speed internet at home, and slightly more Americans were without broadband at home in 2015 than in 2013. Many rely on smartphones as an alternative and experience difficulties accessing and reading content or encounter constraints with data caps. This group is more likely to be low-income and/or minority.

“In this day and age, the access to technology is crucial,” noted Commissioner Smith.  “There continues to be disparities in internet use between demographic groups.  That is why I am so supportive about this partnership and project because families should have access to these types of resources.  Access to technology is a priority!”

Commissioner Smith at previous Internet Essentials partnership event

This is the fifth year that Multnomah County, has partnered with Comcast to provide free laptops and low-cost internet services through Comcast’s program. This year, Self-Enhancement Inc and Olympian Jackie Joyner- Kersee are joining the cause. Self-Enhancement Inc. is a local nonprofit organization which supports at-risk urban youth.  Joyner-Kersee serves as a national spokesperson for Comcast’s Internet Essentials and works on the front lines in her community of St. Louis, Missouri to help bridge the digital divide.   

“In my community, I’ve seen first hand that’s really hard to do if you’re on the wrong side of the digital divide,” said Joyner-Kersee on serving as the Internet Essentials Spokesperson. “So, I’m excited to go on the road this year with Internet Essentials and help more kids and families cross that divide and develop to their fullest potential."

“We are so appreciative of our long-standing partnership with Multnomah County, and Self-Enhancement Inc.,” said Rodrigo Lopez, Regional Sr. Vice-President, Comcast Oregon/SW.

“The digital divide disproportionately affects Hispanic and African-American families, and through Internet Essentials, we are constantly striving to close this gap to ensure student success and families who can participate effectively in the digital world.”

WHAT:  “All Access” event to help  bridge the digital divide

WHO:   Preselected and pre-qualified families receiving free laptops and low-cost internet, Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, Olympic Gold Medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Comcast and Self-Enhancement Inc.

WHEN:  Monday, October 24 from 5 to 7pm.

WHERE:  Self-Enhancement Inc. 3920 N Kerby Ave, Portland, OR 97227

PARKING:  SEI has a parking lot for guests. Street parking will also be available.

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 homeschooled students. We estimate a total of approximately 2.6 million eligible families live in our service area and therefore could apply for Internet Essentials.

For more information or to apply for the program, visit www.InternetEssentials.com or call 1-855- 846-8376 or, for Spanish, visit www.InternetBasico.com or call 1-855-765-6995.