The COVID-19 pandemic shined a spotlight on the digital divide when it came to online learning, but one tech company is hoping the bridge the gap in Texas.
Comcast's Internet Essentials program and Region 4 Education Service Center have partnered with the Texas Education Agency's Connect Texas Program to make sure Texas students have access to internet services.
"Quality internet connectivity at home is critical for academic success, and we are proud to partner with Region 4 ESC to help reduce learning gaps and provide increased opportunities for students to have in-home access to the internet," says Ralph Martinez, regional senior vice president of Comcast Houston, in a news release.
Comcast's digital equity initiative provides internet access for as low as $9.95 a month, and over the past decade it has helped connect almost 1 million low-income Texans to broadband Internet at home — most for the very first time.
Houston-based Region 4 ESC is the agency leading the initiative. The TEA Connect Texas Program has a goal of connecting up to 60,000 students in kindergarten through twelfth grade through internet access and devices
"Providing stable high-quality internet to the students of Texas at home is a critical component of any long-term solution for closing the digital divide for our state," shared Gaby Rowe, Project Lead, Operation Connectivity. "The TEA Connect Texas program is designed to empower school districts and parents to do just that."
More information online on the TEA Connect Texas Program's website.
It's not the first time the tech company has supported Houston's low-income families. Last December, Comcast set up an internet voucher program with the City of Houston, and earlier this year, the company announced 50 Houston-area community centers will have free Wi-Fi connections for three years. Earlier this year, the company also dedicated $1 million to small businesses struggling due to the pandemic that are owned by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.