Project UP Summit: The Power of Community, Partners, and Mentors

Dec 29, 2023 10:30 AM ET

In a time of rapidly evolving technological change, it’s more important than ever that we accelerate our work to close the digital divide.

Recently, Comcast brought together hundreds of nonprofit and local leaders from across the nation for our Project UP Summit – leaders who are empowering communities to leverage technology to shape their lives. It was an inspiring two days at our headquarters in Philadelphia, and the perfect way to also celebrate Comcast’s founding 60 years ago.

Project UP, our $1 billion initiative to connect tens of millions of people to the Internet, is investing in, and partnering with, trusted community leaders nationwide to break down barriers to economic mobility and empower people with the skills and resources they need to succeed.

The Summit was a place for our partners to gather, learn, and deepen our collective impact to address social inequities and advance economic mobility. Through every panel, breakout session, partner spotlight, and conversation, three recurring themes emerged that will inform our work well beyond the summit:

  1. By being in community, we have the power to solve challenges, earn trust, and effect change. Project UP partners are driving interconnected solutions that strengthen communities and help more people realize meaningful opportunities. Through stories like that of Ms. Jo Ethel (a community member) and Fernando Perez (a Digital Navigator with SERJobs), the impact of our work was powerfully described. As author Ruha Benjamin reminded us, small acts led by communities can “make justice contagious and generosity infectious.”
  2. Public-private partnerships can unlock the promises of technology, propel economic mobility, and further broadband adoption and digital skills training. Leaders like Benya Beacom, co-founder of Lead for America, and Michael Smith, CEO of AmeriCorps, are answering the call of public service and partnering with Comcast to create a digital equity national service corps focused on small and rural towns and reemerging mid-sized cities.

    This national movement, already underway, encourages young leaders across the country to return to, and reinvest in, the places they’re from and they love. Many Project UP partners are, as Benya said, “doing the hard work to make sure that resources allocated at the federal level are touching down in states and cities to ultimately make a difference.” Comcast is committed to ensuring that every community has access to digital opportunities like the Affordable Connectivity Program – the nation’s largest ever broadband benefit program.

  3. Through mentorship we give back, inspire, and prepare the next generation for unlimited possibilities. As we look ahead to the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics, Team USA will once again provide inspiration to millions of Americans. We heard from Jordan Burroughs and Trevon Jenifer – decorated U.S. Olympic and U.S. Paralympic gold medalists, devoted teachers, and proud mentors – on their storied athletic journeys and how having the support of community and mentors remains integral to their success.

As Jordan noted, “If I broke my gold medal to give a piece to each person and organization that’s helped me along the way, I would give each a speck of dust.” Having mentors and resources matters for young people to learn what is possible and how to achieve their dreams.

The inspirational story of Kevin Butler, who secured in-home Internet service for his family through Comcast’s Internet Essentials and discovered The Hidden Genius Project, which provided mentorship in growing his own digital skills, serves as an example.

Being in community, collaborating with partners, and investing in mentors are all central to the mission of Project UP. These themes only reinforce our resolve and fuel our aim to help close the digital divide and build a future of unlimited possibilities.