Hundreds of under-resourced families in Lancaster County will now have access to free internet through Comcast’s Lift Zones program.
The program offers free Wi-Fi service with faster speeds to community centers nationwide for use by students and adults.
Comcast announced it has equipped Tec Centro, the Lancaster Recreation Commission, two of Boys & Girls Club of Lancaster’s clubhouses, the YWCA of Lancaster and the Emerald Foundation Community Campus with the service.
“During the pandemic most programs were shut down, but as we move out of the pandemic, our programming has adopted a strong digital focus because that’s how we can be competitive with educational opportunities, both for kids and adults,” said Emerald Foundation interim executive director Martha Besecker.
Emerald Foundation promotes education, youth development, safety and awareness through STEM-inspired platforms, while promoting a culture of inclusivity and meeting the needs of the underserved.
“We are trying to educate them to become digital warriors, and the Lift Zone is the gas tank to move us forward with our programming and how we offer it as an outreach to the community,” Besecker said.
Comcast works with a network of nonprofit partners within their range of operation to provide Wi-Fi connectivity in facilities they have identified to help students get online, participate in distance learning, and do their schoolwork. There are 45 Lift Zones already operational in Comcast’s Keystone Region, with others currently under consideration.
At Tec Centro, a workforce development center of the Spanish American Civic Association, the plan is to have Lift Zones services available to help students with after-school programs and college preparation studies.
“This is a great service for students but also adults who have a need to learn new skills,” director Marlyn Barbosa said.
Besides free internet access, the program also offers access to hundreds of hours of educational and digital skills content to help families and site coordinators navigate online learning.
“Most locations already have existing distance learning programs so it is just a matter of providing Wi-Fi connectivity to those exiting programs in the spaces they’ve made available for students to use. We increase their speed to the internet and Wi-Fi amplifier throughout the building,” said Comcast senior public relations manager Josephine Posti.
Lift Zones complements Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, which focuses on enabling cities, school districts and community-based organizations to connect large numbers of low-income students to the internet at home to support distance learning.
Internet Essentials has helped connect more than 10 million low-income people to broadband internet at home since its inception in 2011, including approximately 44,000 people in Lancaster County.