Comcast Texas partnered with the City of Houston, SERJobs to launch a $150,000 digital navigators pilot program that will serve hundreds of residents in Acres Homes, Kashmere Gardens, Magnolia Park-Ma

11/29/2022, 3:07 p.m.
On Friday, November 18, Comcast announced that trusted tech experts, or digital navigators, will soon be dispatched to help shrink …

On Friday, November 18, Comcast announced that trusted tech experts, or digital navigators, will soon be dispatched to help shrink the digital divide in four of Houston’s historically under-resourced neighborhoods: Acres Homes, Kashmere Gardens, Magnolia Park-Manchester and Sunnyside. Their mission will be to give free one-on-one support to hundreds who want to get online and make the most it. The digital navigators pilot program is a partnership between Comcast Texas, the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Complete Communities and SERJobs.

The $150,000 pilot program will last for 18 months. It kicked off on Friday, November 18, at the Acres Homes Multi-Service Center and included a laptop giveaway to 50 students at Carver High School, a DJ and life-sized robots to commemorate this important day for the community.

The program will include a “back to basics” technology-based curriculum like how to use computer applications, search for jobs online, send emails and operate word-processing software. Additionally, participants can learn about the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides eligible low-income households with a credit of up to $30 per month toward their Internet and/or mobile service.

“The work digital navigators will do in our Complete Communities may seem simple, but it’s very necessary,” City of Houston Director of Complete Communities Shannon Buggs said. “We help Houstonians gain financial empowerment through free professional financial counseling. In today’s digital economy, if you don’t have the right digital skills, you start at a disadvantage. This program will change that.”

According to a recent Boston Consulting Group study supported by Comcast, digital navigators hold the key to reduce digital and socioeconomic inequities. The study revealed those who received hands-on help were more likely to use the Internet to improve their lives. Study highlights include:

● 1 in 3 reported obtaining new employment with a higher income.

● More than 65% now have Internet access or a connected device at home

● Almost half now have better healthcare

● 40% received support with basic needs like food, rent and housing

“Digital navigators have incredible potential to help people get connected and understand that there is a world of unlimited possibilities on the Internet,” Comcast Executive Vice President of Digital Equity and Executive Vice President of Public Policy, Broderick Johnson said. “In supporting digital navigator programs, we are working with trusted partners to close the digital divide here in Houston.”

“This pilot program hits at the heart of our organization’s mission to empower individuals to transform their lives through education, training, employment and financial empowerment,” SERJobs Chief Executive Officer Sheroo Mukhtiar said. “The digital world revolutionized how people obtain employment. Applicants must feel comfortable and confident utilizing digital skills in their job hunt and as they navigate through a very competitive workforce. We know this is step forward in helping Houstonians be successful citizens.”

Houston’s digital navigator pilot program is one of more than a dozen around the nation that Comcast is funding as a part of Project UP, the company’s $1B comprehensive initiative to advance digital equity. Project UP encompasses digital equity programs such as Internet Essentials and Lift Zones. Since 2011, Comcast’s Internet Essentials has connected more than 10 million underserved Americans to broadband service at home, including more than 1 million residents in Texas. Additionally, Comcast recently reached and expanded on our goal by opening 1,250 Lift Zones in community centers nationwide – with 49 locations in the Greater Houston region – to provide students and families with free, high-speed WiFi powered by Comcast Business.