The first wi-fi connected “Lift Zone” is now open in Inkster.
The service, provided by Comcast, offers free robust WiFi in safe spaces designed to help students access the internet, participate in distance learning and do homework, especially in areas where there is a significant digital divide. Low-income students face a great risk of being left behind, particularly during the summer months while school is out, Comcast officials noted and these Lift Zones are designed to help those students who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to connect to the internet at home.
Lift Zones also serve adults and can connect them to online education, job searches, healthcare information and public assistance. These sites offer access to hundreds of hours of digital skills content to help families and site coordinators navigate online learning, officials explained.
The Lift Zone in Inkster is a partnership with New Step Community Development and Inkster Housing Commission, along with Comcast. A grand opening of the new facility took place last week at 29150 Carlysle St. in Inkster.
“This is a fantastic and critical partnership,” said Aaron Cooper, executive director of the Inkster Housing Commission. “The ability for such an established company, like Comcast, to invest in the communities with the most need is very important - especially in the arena of low-income, affordable housing. Our residents have been the most disconnected, and the pandemic made this even more evident as so many of our families were disproportionately affected.” Cooper said that during the grand opening, residents were shown how the Lift Zone can help them get connected online.
“We believe the Lift Zone will not only provide access to a necessary and essential service, but also it will empower our community,” said Kristin Burney, interim executive director of New Step Community Development. “We are quickly working to ensure the children in our community have the programming and the safe space to help them succeed.”
In March, Comcast announced it will invest $1 billion nationally over the next 10 years to help further close the digital divide and give even more low-income Americans the tools and resources they need to succeed in an increasingly digital world.
The Comcast $1 billion commitment includes investments in several critical areas, including: additional support for the ongoing Lift Zone initiative; new laptop and computer donations; grants for nonprofit community organizations to create opportunities for low-income Americans, particularly in media, technology and entrepreneurship and continued investment in the landmark Internet Essentials program. It is estimated that these new commitments will impact as many as 50 million Americans over the next 10 years. In 2021 alone, Comcast estimates students will be able to complete more than 25 million hours of remote learning lessons to further address the “homework gap” at the hundreds of Lift Zone locations that have already opened or will open soon.
“A connection to the Internet is important to every family, whether they are learning from home, applying for jobs or scheduling medical appointments,” said Tim Collins, senior vice president of Comcast in Michigan. “Our partnership with the Inkster Housing Commission and New Step Community Development will help those families who are unable to connect to the Internet have access to these life-changing opportunities.”