Lift Zones in Berks County will Provide Safe Spaces with Free Internet to Help Thousands of Low-Income Students Participate in Distance Learning
READING, Pa. — January 19, 2021 – As part of its ongoing commitment to help connect low-income families to the Internet so they can fully participate in educational opportunities and the digital economy, Comcast today announced plans to equip seven different locations in Berks County with WiFi-connected “Lift Zones” over the next few months. Working with the Mifflin YMCA, Sinking Spring YMCA, United Community Services for Working Families and Calvary United Church of Christ, Comcast is providing robust WiFi coverage at safe spaces in Reading and Sinking Spring that are expected to help thousands of low-income students get online, participate in distance learning and do their homework.
“I commend Comcast on this stellar initiative and for enrolling YMCAs as a shining example of collaboration,” said Mayor Eddie Morán. “The pandemic has affected everyone differently, especially economically. While parents had to choose between providing essentials over keeping an internet service during virtual learning, Wi-Fi Lift Zones have helped parents meet this challenge.”
Additional Lift Zones sites are currently under consideration for the LGBT Center of Reading, Salvation Army of Reading, and Reading YMCA, with the goal to have all locations installed by early 2021. These Lift Zones will feature free WiFi provided by Comcast, which will enable students to work on laptops and participate in distance learning. The initiative will provide free connectivity for these community centers for the next three years.
“We are so grateful for this partnership with Comcast in supporting the YMCA’s efforts to provide safe spaces for Berks County students to enhance their virtual learning experiences,” said Shelley Eppihimer, director of early education for YMCA of Reading and Berks County.
“Calvary UCC is excited about this partnership because it fits with our long tradition of helping our community and those who are in need,” said the Rev. Steve Ohnsman. “We look forward to being a place where students in our community can get the most out of their studies in a safe and inviting environment.”
Lift Zone sites complement Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, which has helped connect more than 8 million low-income people to the Internet at home since 2011.
“The COVID-19 crisis continues to put many low-income students at risk of being left behind, accelerating the need for comprehensive digital equity and Internet adoption programs to support them,” said Toni Murphy, regional senior vice president for Comcast’s Keystone Region. “We hope these Lift Zones will help those students who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to connect to effective distance learning at home.”