Yesterday Microsoft announced an extension to its Shape the Future program that already brought computers to more than 10 million under privileged children world wide in the past 5 years. This new initiative aims to bring broadband access as well as discounted hard- and software to one million more children.
Microsoft will work together with nonprofit, corporate and governmental organisations to fill the achievement gap between students who have Internet access at home and those who don’t.
According to the Federal Reserve, these students have a high school graduation rate six to eight percentage points lower than those who have home access to the Internet.
The Comcast program is called Internet Essentials and offers internet access for only $10 a month to families with children who qualify for free lunch programs.
The goal of Internet Essentials is to help close the digital divide and ensure more Americans benefit from all the Internet has to offer.
In partnership with the FCC Comcast found that there are three primary barriers to broadband adoption which the company is aiming to address with the new plan
- lack of understanding of how the Internet is relevant and useful
- cost of a home computer
- cost of Internet service
Internet Essentials offers discounted computers for $149,99 and free training either on the website or in 90 minute live sessions across the US. In addition Norton also offers free security software to the Internet Essentials subscribers.
The core mission of the program is to level out the gap between students whose parents already can afford a broadband Internet access and those whose parents don’t have the means to spend on an expensive plan or computer. Comcast EVP David L. Cohen states that
“Internet Essentials helps level the playing field for low-income families by connecting students online with their teachers and their schools’ educational resources.”
The same is of course true for the parents who can subscribe for digital literacy training which gives them better chances to apply for a job.