As part of our ongoing commitment to help connect low-income families to the internet so they can fully participate in educational opportunities and the digital economy, we’re working to equip more than 20 different locations in the Denver Metro Area with free, robust WiFi connectivity by the end of 2020. These “Lift Zones” provide students with a safe, clean space to participate in distance learning during the day or to do homework before or after school.
This initiative is part of a larger multiyear effort nationwide to roll out more than 1,000 WiFi-connected Lift Zones in local community centers.
List of Colorado Lift Zone locations can be found here.
Giving students a safe place at our recreation centers to access the WiFi they need is essential for ensuring Aurora’s kids continue to learn despite the pandemic,” said Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman. “We are grateful to Comcast for partnering with us on this valuable service to the community.”
“To assist our Denver students during this pandemic, Denver Parks & Recreation launched four free learning labs in low income and underserved neighborhoods,” said Happy Haynes, executive director of Denver Parks and Recreation. “These learning labs now join Comcast’s network of Lift Zones to provide students with a safe and supportive place to complete their schoolwork using this free, reliable, high-speed WiFi.”
On December 15, we hosted a virtual event to announce this new program, where folks heard from several Colorado elected officials about the importance of digital equity and how through innovative public private partnerships, we can better serve people in our communities.
While we are installing 20 Lift Zones in 2020, we plan to expand the effort to launch more Lift Zone sites throughout the state of Colorado in 2021 at nonprofit community centers, gyms, parks and recreation facilities, and small business locations.
The COVID-19 crisis has put many low-income students at risk of being left behind and has accelerated the need for comprehensive digital equity and Internet adoption programs to support them. Lift Zones are designed to help those students who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to participate in distance learning at home.
We have been working with our members that are either doing online schooling full time, and with students that are going to school in person but have online schooling 2 days a week. Before we were able to use the Lift Zone, we had issues with kids connecting, losing their calls, and just not being able to use their own Chromebook because we couldn’t get them connected. We had use of a hotspot, which would work about 1/2 the time. But since we have had use of the Lift Zone, we have not had issues with kids connecting or losing their calls.” – Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver
“On the old internet I was kicked off 5 times a day. Sometimes, when I got kicked off, it wouldn’t let me back in, so my grades got way worse.” – Cope Boys & Girls Club Member Lorena, age 13 (7th grade)
During the virtual event on the 15th, we also announced $150,000 in grants in partnership with the Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, to support internet safety and digital literacy programs in Colorado.
- Colorado Attorney General’s Office
- $75,000 in-kind support in the form of video production and airtime to help the Attorney General’s office promote awareness of online safety resources.
- Community Computer Connection (C3)
- $25,000 to help them acquire technology resources needed by schools, nonprofits, and individuals.
- 200 laptops for them to distribute to non-profits, schools and lower income communities.
- Denver Public Schools Foundation (DPS)
- $25,000 to help DPS technology education leaders provide internet safety programming and resources at school locations and at Denver Comcast Lift Zone locations such as Boys & Girls Clubs, Girls Inc., and City of Denver Parks & Rec centers.
- Aurora Public Schools Foundation (APS)
- $25,000 to support APS technology education leaders in providing online safety programming and resources at APS school locations and at Aurora Comcast Lift Zone locations including City of Aurora Parks & Rec centers.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, students without access to broadband and computers experienced a homework gap that posed barriers to educational opportunity. Now, students need access to simply participate in the remote learning environment,” said Attorney General Phil Weiser. “Access is just one piece of bridging the digital divide. Knowing what to do online, how to do it safely, and how to protect children and families from online fraud and abuse is of utmost importance, and I am proud to partner with Comcast on these efforts.”