Cook County, Comcast providing free internet for disadvantaged students
The Housing Authority of Cook County and Comcast announced a partnership Wednesday that will provide free in-home, high-speed internet service to suburban housing authority residents with school-age children.
The service will allow those students to participate in their schools' remote learning programs, as well as provide internet access to other members of the household, officials said.
"It is estimated that one-quarter of our Cook County residents lack high-speed internet, and those rates are much higher for people of color," Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said during an announcement of the partnership. "We cannot allow a quarter of Cook County to fall further behind as we recover, digitally, during the next phase of this crisis."
Under the agreement, the housing authority will purchase 10 months of Comcast's Internet Essentials service on behalf of eligible residents who enroll by Dec. 31. The program is funded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and is being offered to nearly 14,000 children residing in more than 6,500 households across suburban Cook County, officials said.
With most suburban schools already underway remotely, or planning to start the school year that way, officials said the program is essential to ensuring that students whose families cannot afford internet access don't fall behind academically.
The housing authority is reaching out to eligible families about registration, but residents also can contact the agency at firstname.lastname@example.org or (312) 663-5447 with questions.