Boosting literacy, putting a dent in the digital divide
Springfield Housing Authority joined forces with Comcast and several elected Massachusetts officials to celebrate an early literacy grant along with an offer to help bridge the digital divide among low-income people.
The event at Sullivan Apartments, an SHA family development in the Liberty Heights section of the city, drew officials from SHA and Comcast as well as state Sen. Eric Lesser and state Reps. Carlos Gonzalez, Angelo Puppolo, and a representative from the office of state Rep. Jose Tosado. All are Springfield Democrats. Also in attendance was City Councilor Kateri Walsh.
Besides a $1,000 grant from Comcast in support of SHA’s Talk/Read/Succeed! family-based literacy program, the communications company provided the students with new books and encouraged qualifying households to sign up for Internet Essential, the largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption initiative for low-income families.
That program will provide low-cost Internet service to qualifying SHA residents.
While children from Sullivan’s after-school program dove into a snack of pizza, SHA and elective officials thanked Comcast for its ongoing support of educational programs.
“Talk/Read/Succeed! promotes early literacy from all the angles — parent engagement and education, child education, family literacy and family self-sufficiency,” said William H. Abrashkin, Executive Director of SHA. “We know from seven years of working with families in T/R/S! that this multi-pronged program works. We are very thankful to Comcast for supporting T/R/S! and look forward to future collaboration.”
“Reading is essential to improving our children’s success in education,” added State Representative Carlos Gonzalez (D-Springfield). “We salute the Housing Authority for an exceptional program and thank Comcast for their Support.”
And seven-year-old Bryanna Ingram left with a big smile on her face, after having her name drawn in a raffle for a Dell laptop computer. The first-grader at the nearby Boland Elementary School knew exactly what she was going to do with the new device.
“I’m going to play games,” she said, adding “and do homework.”
The Comcast gift of $1,000 will help the T/R/S! program buy supplies and offset other costs, mostly related to children’s books, supplies, and educational field trips. In its seventh year, the program helps families at Sullivan and Robinson Gardens Apartments, in part through partnerships with their neighborhood schools, Boland and Dorman.
Comcast also announced an initiative to help low-income people get low-cost access to the Internet.
SHA is in the process or notifying residents of an offer from Comcast to provide broadband services for for $9.95 per month with no fees for installation or equipment rentals.
The offer is part of a five-year-old program called Internet Essentials, which provides low-cost web access to households receiving U.S. Housing and Urban Development assistance. Around the country, 750,000 have already subscribed.
“We know there are still a lot of families that might be able to qualify for the program, so we definitely want to get the word out about it,” said Sharon Codeanne, Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs at Comcast.
Comcast’s Internet Essentials is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption initiative for low-income families. Last month the company announced they were expanding the program to households that receive HUD-housing assistance, including public housing, Housing Choice Voucher, and Multifamily programs.
The announcement means even more individuals, including seniors, veterans, and adults without children, are now eligible to apply to Internet Essentials. Families who have at least one child eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program (in addition to those who are receiving HUD housing assistance) are also eligible for the program which provides access to low-cost broadband service for $9.95 a month (including a Wi-Fi router) – no price increases, no activation fees and no equipment rental fees. Participants also can purchase an Internet-ready computer for less than $150 and access digital literacy training sessions and materials online, in print, and in person.
“We’re pleased to provide this grant to support the Talk/Read/Succeed program, and appreciate the Springfield Housing Authority’s help to get the word out about Internet Essentials, which has connected substantially more low-income families to the Internet than all other private sector programs combined,” said Daniel Glanville, Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs for Comcast’s Western New England Region, which includes Western Massachusetts.
“Now that the program is available to residents receiving HUD-housing assistance, even more households will be connected to a stronger future of opportunities that will help increase success from an academic standpoint and provide each family with new possibilities,” Glanville said.
Copyright © 2013 Springfield Housing Authority. All Rights Reserved.