From Chicago Sun-Times by Fran Spielman:
The digital divide that has left nearly 40 percent of all Chicagoans with little or no access to the Internet is about to narrow for 330,000 needy students.

On Tuesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Comcast in announcing, “Internet Essentials,” a first-in-the-nation program designed to provide high-speed Internet services for the families of Chicago Public School students who qualify for free school lunches.

Comcast normally charges $48.95-a-month for broadband Internet service. Under the new program, eligible families will be able to get that service for $9.95-a-month with no installation or service fees.

In addition, eligible families will get technology training and a coupon to purchase mostly refurbished computers valued at up to $500 for $150. The program will launch with the start of the next school year and continue for at least three years.

The partnership with Comcast is one piece of a comprehensive plan to increase Internet access in inner-city Chicago neighborhoods.

“This will ensure that every part of this city has a chance to grow in the new economy. And Chicago will lead the country in dealing with this economic and social divide issue,” Emanuel told a news conference at the Woodson Regional Library, 9525 S. Halsted.

“If a parent signs up a child at kindergarten or first-grade, Comcast will stay with that child all the way through to high school and that access. It’s a tremendous investment that no other city is gonna experience. ... But, at the end of the day, the parent has to do one thing that no other program can do: Show initiative. Be the parent.”

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