Internet Essentials

My family and I immigrated to the United States from Mexico when I was four-years-old. As one of six children and living in a new country where we spoke mostly Spanish, I can understand the hardships that many Hispanic families face today.

I worked hard and was fortunate to receive a good education, have a supportive family, a network of mentors and technological resources that helped me to become an empowered Hispanic businesswoman. Today, I am proud to be the Executive Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Comcast Corporation.

Technology has rapidly become a key component of our society and one of our programs that I am thrilled to support is Internet Essentials. This initiative aims to help close the “digital divide” that affects so many families across the United States. Now, in its second year, the goal of this groundbreaking, ambitious and comprehensive broadband adoption program is to help level the playing field for low-income families by connecting students online with their teachers’ and their school’s educational resources, and provide adults with critical access to job openings, and healthcare and government services in their communities.

The program provides low-income families, those with children eligible to receive free or reduced price lunches under the National School Lunch Program, with low-cost Internet access, the option to buy a low-cost computer and access to digital literacy training in print, online and in-person---and it’s available to more than 30,000 schools in 39 states as well as Washington, D.C.

At Comcast, we reviewed study after study, and research consistently found that the barriers to broadband adoption involve limited digital literacy skills, a perceived lack of relevance of online content, and a real need for inexpensive, quality computers and Internet service. Internet Essentials was designed to address all of these hurdles, and all of Comcast’s digital literacy programs are designed to overcome these concerns and demonstrate how using the Internet is important to everyone and is a key to educational and socioeconomic advancement.

Families without the Internet at their fingertips are missing out on valuable opportunities. Compared to other racial groups in the United States, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration found that Hispanics have the lowest rate of in-home broadband adoption, at 45.2 percent, compared to the national average across all racial and ethnic groups of 68.2 percent.

We believe, and are already seeing the results, that Internet Essentials can help students excel in school at the primary level and beyond, which helps provide opportunities that are not as readily available to families without Internet access at home.In its first year of availability, Comcast has connected more than 100,000 families — an estimated 400,000 low-income Americans — to the power of the Internet in their homes, most for the first time.

Currently, many Hispanic organizations are involved in the program including the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and many local affiliates. But we still have much more work to do to get as many Hispanic students and families online as possible. So I’m asking for help from parents, educators, community leaders, government officials and other third parties to join in this effort and spread the word and get more families connected. Free brochures and other downloadable materials are available at

For general information about Internet Essentials, visit: (for English) or visit (for Spanish). Parents looking to enroll in the program can call 1-855-846-8376 or, for Spanish, 1-855-765-6995.

Please help me in this effort by doing your part to help get more families connected to the Internet. It will make a difference in students’ schoolwork and more importantly, their future.

Maria Arias is the Executive Director, Diversity & Inclusion at Comcast Corporation.