Cox Communications has announced a two-year extension of its participation in Connect2Compete, the broadband adoption program that offers discounted high-speed Internet service to low-income families with children who qualify for the National School Lunch Program.
Cox pledged $15 million in support of broadband adoption initiatives through 2016. The announcement was made by Cox president Pat Esser at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Joining Esser for the announcement were EveryoneOn CEO Zach Leverenz and Federal Communications Commission commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.
“Connecting youth to technology is a core value of Cox Communications, and has guided our community investment initiative for decades,” Esser said. “But in today’s digital economy, the Internet is a critical educational resource for America’s youth and their families.
“Together with Connect2Compete, we are making great progress in bringing Internet service to more low-income families in the communities we serve.”
In making the announcement, Esser also shared how the company is making program enrollment easier for families. Cox Communications has expanded the proof of eligibility to include Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Families with K-12 students who participate in these programs or the federal Free School Lunch Program are eligible for the Cox Connect2Compete discounted service.
Connect2Compete was modeled after a broadband adoption program that Cox has participated in since 2002 in Santa Barbara as part of the Partners in Education Computers for Families program.
Cox was the first company to roll out the Connect2Compete program, piloting the initiative for the FCC in San Diego in 2012. Cox launched the program nationally in April 2013. Today, more than 15,000 families have enrolled in Cox’s program nationwide, bringing broadband service to their homes and helping close the digital divide.
“The success of the Santa Barbara program and the San Diego pilot helped pave the way for our national roll out of Connect2Compete, which means even more families can take advantage of this program to further their children’s education and opportunities,” said Dave Bialis, senior vice president and general manager of Cox Communications’ California markets, which include Santa Barbara, Orange County, Palos Verdes and San Diego.
In addition to offering discounted Internet service to eligible families, Cox promotes digital literacy awareness through public service announcements and donating advertising time for broadband adoption on its cross-channel cable lineup.
Across its 18-state footprint, Cox has actively promoted Connect2Compete in partnership with community organizations, agencies and officials to help spread the word about the program.
“Cox’s program has demonstrated the powerful impact a company can have in its local communities,” Leverenz said. “The company’s commitment to closing the digital divide and willingness to expand the low-income eligibility programs to encourage more households to take advantage of its offers serves as a model to the industry.”
EveryoneOn is a national nonprofit working to eliminate the digital divide by making high-speed, low-cost Internet service and computers, and free digital literacy courses accessible to all unconnected Americans. Connect2Compete (C2C) is EveryoneOn’s flagship program for K-12 students and provides affordable Internet and devices to students and families that qualify for the National School Lunch Program.
Click here for more information on Cox’s Connect2Compete program.
— Kirsten McLaughlin is public affairs manager for Cox California.