Comcast has announced expanded efforts to close the digital divide in Washington, D.C. by partnering with Serve Your City/Ward 6 Mutual Aid (SYC/W6MA) to launch a Digital Navigator program that will train trusted community leaders to serve as Digital Navigators, providing direct outreach to residents in Wards 7 and 8 about free and low-cost Internet options and how to build their digital skills.
SYC/W6MA is a D.C.-based nonprofit that for more than a decade has provided Black and Brown youth and families the resources, support, and opportunities they need to thrive. The SYC/W6MA Digital Navigators will provide a range of support, including helping residents take advantage of the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) – which provides a $30 per month credit toward purchasing Internet or mobile service ($75 per month on tribal lands) and can be combined with Internet Essentials from Comcast to provide eligible residents with free Internet service.
“With the Federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help connect as many people as possible to the internet,” said Broderick Johnson, Executive Vice President, Digital Equity and Executive Vice President, Public Policy at Comcast. “The challenge we face, however, is low awareness about ACP and many people who qualify for it also lack the digital skills required to sign up. This is why working with trusted organizations like Serve Your City and Ward 6 Mutual Aid is one of the most effective ways to get more people online and help build the digital skills they need to succeed – driving transformative change for families across the District and nationwide.”
The Digital Navigator model is a highly effective and research-driven approach that engages trusted community organizations to address the root causes of the digital divide – including access to technology, affordability, and digital skills – the essential foundations for Internet adoption. A recent study from the Boston Consulting Group surveyed more than 1,500 people nationwide who used Digital Navigator services and revealed the critical role Digital Navigators play in closing the digital divide and reducing socioeconomic inequalities. Key takeaways include:
- More than 65% of survey respondents said they obtained Internet access or a computer or tablet at home; among Hispanic and Black Americans, this increased to 72%.
- More than 85% of all respondents said they used the Internet more frequently.
- Almost half surveyed obtained better healthcare, and 40% received support with basic needs like food, rent, and housing.
- 1 in 3 found a new job or earned a higher income.
“We are working toward digital liberation for Black and Brown communities in D.C. by providing devices and resources to children and families with the greatest need,” said Maurice Cook, executive director of Serve Your City and lead organizer for Ward 6 Mutual Aid. “This is about addressing structural inequities through a mutual aid model where neighbors – including returning citizens and unhoused residents – can learn new skills, earn money and fulfill a direct need while being tech heroes in their own communities.”
Comcast’s Digital Navigator program with Serve Your City/Ward 6 Mutual Aid is part of Project UP, Comcast’s comprehensive initiative to advance digital equity and help build a future of unlimited possibilities. Backed by a $1 billion commitment to reach tens of millions of people, Project UP encompasses the programs and community partnerships across Comcast, NBCUniversal, and Sky that connect people to the Internet, advance economic mobility, and open doors for the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, storytellers, and creators.