Comcast invests $225,000 in Fresno to extend Web entry

About 200 kids celebrated a brand new funding of their West Fresno neighborhood on Thursday morning.

“After I say west, you say Fresno,” Pastor David J. “DJ” Criner of Saint Relaxation Baptist Church advised the kids. “West!”

“Fresno,” shouted the kids gathered within the church playground, waving yellow and inexperienced pom-poms.

The youngsters cheered in response to the announcement that Comcast would create a brand new Wi-Fi hotspot – often known as the Elevate Zone – on the church. By means of this Elevate Zone and 15 others throughout the county, Comcast goals to assist communities connect with the Web to allow them to take part in on-line schooling alternatives and the digital economic system, based on the corporate.

It was simply certainly one of many investments introduced by Comcast on Thursday morning. The corporate additionally donated $25,000 to Saint Relaxation for a brand new pc lab and shocked each baby in attendance with a free laptop computer. He additionally invested $200,000 in Bitwise Industries paid tech apprenticeships, supporting the nonprofit’s mission to empower, practice and encourage individuals to hitch the tech workforce.

Native college kids cheer throughout an occasion at Saint Relaxation Baptist Church in West Fresno, the place Comcast introduced it will launch a brand new ‘Elevate Zone’ on the church, permitting free Wi-Fi entry , in addition to a $25,000 donation to the church for a brand new pc lab and a $200,000 funding to fund workforce improvement alternatives within the Valley. Every of the scholars current additionally obtained a free laptop computer from the corporate. CRAIG KOHLRUSS

By partnering with and investing in neighborhood organizations, Comcast goals to earn the belief of neighborhood members and bridge the digital divide, mentioned Broderick Johnson, Comcast’s govt vp of public coverage and digital fairness. .

“One of many largest boundaries to individuals getting broadband … has to do with an absence of belief in establishments, governments and companies,” Johnson mentioned. “There is not any assure that (the digital divide) will probably be bridged until now we have individuals the neighborhood trusts.”

These new investments proceed Comcast’s efforts to attach extra Fresno County communities to the Web. About a quarter of all households in the department did not have web entry in December 2019, weeks earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic elevated individuals’s reliance on it.

Earlier this yr, Comcast invested $1 million in the rural community of Biola and opened a lifting space within the Biola Neighborhood Providers District. This funding additionally included a $100,000 donation to area people organizations, together with Fresno State Guardian College and Studying & Past, to supply digital literacy coaching to members of the Biola neighborhood.

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Comcast invests within the Fresno neighborhood

Saint Relaxation Baptist Church is situated southwest of downtown Fresno. Greater than 60% of the inhabitants surrounding it dwell beneath the poverty line, according to US census data. The encompassing neighborhood is 71% Latino, making for a predominantly black and brown congregation, mentioned Charleston Adams, a youth pastor at Saint Relaxation.

Fresno Councilmember Miguel Arias represents District 3, town’s southwest neighborhood. He mentioned a couple of years in the past that the postcode 93706 – the place Saint Relaxation is situated – was solely talked about nationally as a result of it had the very best focus of poverty.

“These of us at Fresno knew he additionally had the very best focus of potential,” Arias added.

Adams, the youth pastor, mentioned investments in know-how thrill college students and assist them attain that potential.

“A few of them,” he mentioned, “if it weren’t for at this time, would by no means have had entry to their very own private laptops.”

Space college kids maintain onto their free laptops donated by Comcast Company throughout an occasion at Saint Relaxation Baptist Church in West Fresno on Thursday, October 27, 2022. CRAIG KOHLRUSS

After asserting the donations to Saint Relaxation, Johnson went to Bitwise Industries.

“That is the third time I’ve executed one thing like Santa Claus,” Johnson advised a bunch of Bitwise apprentices who’re studying technical abilities for jobs in e-commerce, on-line advertising and marketing and software program improvement. Web pages.

He was seconds away from asserting the shock $200,000 donation to the apprenticeship program. The funds are a part of Comcast’s ongoing partnership with the Fresno-based nonprofit.

Greater than 10,000 individuals have been educated at Bitwise and 80% have discovered “paying” technical jobs, a spokesperson for the affiliation mentioned.

A survey confirmed that their common intern is a 26-year-old Latina with a highschool diploma, who beforehand labored within the fields, factories, eating places or retail companies. The survey additionally calculated that 41% of interns recognized as LGBTQ+ and almost half had been both first-generation Individuals or undocumented.

Amelia Guadarrama, a present apprentice and a local of Fresno, was shocked by the brand new funding, as had been the opposite college students within the room. She was a bridal seamstress earlier than deciding she wanted a profession change.

“There will probably be so many extra alternatives for individuals who thought possibly there wasn’t room for them,” Guadarrama mentioned. “After I heard that, it is simply extra people who find themselves going to have the ability to change their lives and see themselves in these (tech) areas.”

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