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U-46, Comcast Extend Partnership to Provide Internet Service to Eligible Students and Families

July 23, 2020

Comcast Logo School District U-46 and Comcast today announced an extended partnership to provide eligible low-income families with Internet service at home. The agreement, an extension of an arrangement that began in the spring, is designed to help students enrolled in the state’s second largest district succeed by staying connected through the summer and when teaching and learning resumes in August for the 2020-21 school year. Fall plans for teaching and learning in U-46 call for starting with distance learning and then moving into a hybrid approach, implementing both in-person classes and distance learning until there can be a full return to school for all students. 

“We’re grateful for this agreement with Comcast as we continue to close any opportunity gaps among our students,” said School District U-46 Superintendent Tony Sanders . “This will help us meet our mission to ensure all students have the opportunity to learn and succeed through an online connection with their teachers, coursework and important educational resources throughout the 2020-21 school year.”

Under the agreement, U-46 will purchase Comcast’s Internet Essentials service through the end of May 2021 on behalf of eligible households in the district. 

School District U-46 has worked since school doors closed March 13 to close technology gaps by providing internet to families without service and distributing Chromebooks and other devices to students in pre-K through 4th grade and any older students who did not have a device in the 1:1 5th through 12th grade program.

The District serves more than 38,000 students who live across 90-square miles in 11 northwest suburban towns and villages.

Since 2011, more than 220,000 Illinois households – and more than 2 million nationwide – have been connected to the Internet at home through Comcast’s Internet Essentials program.  Some 90 percent were not connected until they enrolled in the program.

Internet Essentials provides Internet Service at home to eligible low-income households for $9.95 a month plus applicable taxes and fees.  Internet Essentials has an integrated, wrap-around design that addresses each of the three major barriers to broadband adoption that research has identified, including:

  • A lack of digital literacy skills;
  • A lack of awareness of the relevance of the Internet to everyday life;
  • Fear of the Internet;
  • The lack of a computer; and
  • The cost of Internet service.

The program is structured as a partnership between Comcast and tens of thousands of school districts, libraries, elected officials and nonprofit community partners. 

“Internet Essentials has helped millions of Americans gain access to the Internet at home since it launched nine years ago,” said Matthew Summy, Comcast’s Regional Vice President of External Affairs.  “We are honored to work with U-46 to remove barriers to in-home Internet adoption.”

Families who believe they are eligible can get more information by clicking on Assistance with High-Speed Internet via the District’s Let’s Talk customer service tool.