Comcast and the Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission today announced a new $2 million investment in Free Geek, a leading local non-profit advancing economic equity through technology training and career building. This investment will help the most disconnected communities in Multnomah County get online and receive the resources, devices and technology education needed to advance digital skills for education and work, enhance economic mobility, and promote digital equity.
“We see firsthand that the digital divide continues to be a persistent challenge for communities in Multnomah County. East Portland, Gresham, Fairview, Wood Village, and Troutdale are home to some of our most disconnected communities. More than 3,000 residents do not own a computer and many others don’t know how to use it effectively,” said Juan Muro, Executive Director, Free Geek. “This investment will ensure that these families have the same benefits as others and their children have access to online resources to be successful in school.”
Free Geek will use the investment to help bridge the digital divide by working to connect more people to the internet and getting devices into the hands of people who need them. In addition, Free Geek will serve as consultants to enable community partners to expand their own digital equity programs in alignment with the region's Digital Equity Action Plan, which is focused on helping the most vulnerable communities in Portland and Multnomah County.
"All Oregonians should be able to access the internet in order to connect with educational, health care, and economic opportunities," Governor Tina Kotek said. “Together, with public and private partners, we are working towards a common purpose of empowering individuals to get online, enhance digital skills, and advance economic mobility.”
Free Geek will also bring additional capacity to its network of community partners as they work to remove barriers to broadband adoption. This includes addressing the lack of awareness about how to participate in the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides eligible low-income households with a credit of up to $30 per month toward their internet and/or mobile service – $75 per month on tribal lands, as well as the wider availability of free digital skills programs.
“The MHCRC has a long history of advocating for digital equity through access to and use of telecommunications technology through public-private partnerships. We are excited to be able to partner with Comcast and Free Geek to bring this resource to the community at a time when funding and support for local efforts in urban communities is limited,” said Julia DeGraw, Chair, MHCRC.
Today’s announcement is the latest example of investment in Oregon under Comcast’s Project UP program, a comprehensive initiative to advance digital equity and help build a future of unlimited possibilities. Earlier this year, the company invested $300,000 to advance digital equity and economic opportunity in the greater Portland area. At that time, Comcast and Free Geek joined together to launch a Lift Zone, which provides free WiFi at the new Center for Technology Education & Digital Equity, and scale a Digital Navigators program that will help connect more people in the area to the internet and teach them how to use it.
“While high-speed internet is widely available in Multnomah County, the unfortunate reality is that not everyone has the resources and digital skills they need to benefit from it,” said Comcast Pacific Northwest Region Senior Vice President Rodrigo Lopez. “By continuing our partnership with Free Geek, we are creating a more prepared and inclusive workforce and ensuring that communities in the Greater Portland area are not left behind.”
Over the last three years, Comcast has provided $5.8 million in financial and in-kind charitable contributions to Oregon nonprofits. These contributions support local community programs that help establish and promote the company’s Digital Equity Network in Oregon. The efforts also enable partner organizations to acquire technology equipment, provide digital skills trainings, and offer opportunities for community members to explore and train for careers in tech-related fields, or to develop the kinds of technology skills that can help them launch and grow their own businesses.
Thanks to the ACP, eligible Comcast customers can get home Internet either through Comcast’s Internet Essentials or Internet Essentials Plus service tiers at no cost, once the federal credit is applied. Internet Essentials customers can also add a line of unlimited 5G cellular data ($45/month) through Xfinity Mobile for as little as $24.95/month, after the ACP benefit is applied. For more information about Project UP and Comcast’s commitment to education and digital equity, please visit https://corporate.comcast.com/impact/project-up. To apply for ACP or Internet Essentials visit www.Xfinity.com/free or www.internetessentials.com or call
1-855-846-8376 for English or 1-855-765-6995 for Spanish.
About Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission:
Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission represents the cities of Fairview, Gresham, Portland, Troutdale, and Wood Village, and Multnomah County. The Commission is comprised of eight volunteers who represent the communities’ cable communications technology needs and collaborate to ensure the region benefits from cable service franchise agreements.
About Free Geek:
Free Geek is a Portland-based non-profit organization with a mission to repurpose technology and discover sustainable solutions while providing educational resources. Its ultimate aim is to foster a vibrant community where individuals are empowered to unlock their full potential. Through their dedicated efforts, they strive to transform the world by leveraging technology, sustainability, and education to create a brighter, more inclusive future, where every individual has the opportunity to thrive and make a meaningful impact.
About Comcast Corporation:
Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company. From the connectivity and platforms we provide, to the content and experiences we create, our businesses reach hundreds of millions of customers, viewers, and guests worldwide. We deliver world-class broadband, wireless, and video through Xfinity, Comcast Business, and Sky; produce, distribute, and stream leading entertainment, sports, and news through brands including NBC, Telemundo, Universal, Peacock, and Sky; and bring incredible theme parks and attractions to life through Universal Destinations & Experiences.
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