Comcast Corporation recently announced the launch of Internet Essentials, a program which provides families in Philadelphia with children who are eligible to receive free lunches under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) with low-cost Internet service, affordable computers and digital literacy training.

According to Anne Ayella, assistant director for the archdiocesan Nutritional Development Services program (NDS), of the 35,364 students at Catholic Elementary schools, charter schools and Christian schools NDS serves, 12,168 qualify for free school lunches — which would likely make them eligible for Comcast’s program.

The goal of Internet Essentials is to help close the digital divide and ensure more Americans benefit from all the Internet has to offer. The program addresses what research has identified as the three primary barriers to broadband adoption: 1) a lack of understanding of how the Internet is relevant and useful; 2) the cost of a home computer; and 3) the cost of Internet service.

Internet Essentials participants will receive: Residential Internet service for $9.95 a month + applicable taxes; no price increases, no activation fees, or equipment rental fees; a voucher to purchase a low-cost computer for $149.99 + tax; and access to free digital literacy training in print, online and in person.

Comcast will sign up eligible families in the program for at least three years, through the end of the 2013-2014 school year. Any household that qualifies during this three-year period will remain eligible for the program provided a child eligible for a free lunch remains living in the household.

“There is no doubt that the Internet is a great equalizer and life-changing technology and being connected to the Internet is critically important to society, our youth and our future,” said Comcast chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts. “This program can help low-income American families get online so they can take advantage of all the Internet has to offer.”

Comcast also provides courtesy Internet services to libraries and community centers throughout the city, and recently provided wireless access at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul during the installation of Archbishop Charles Chaput, Sept. 8.

For more information about the program visit for English or for Spanish. . Parents looking to enroll in the program can call 1-855-846-8376 or, for Spanish, 1-855-765-6995.