Comcast Lift Zones are installed statewide as a way to provide free internet access to low income families. (Photo: Eric Draper, Comcast)
LAS CRUCES – Comcast Corporation announced the installation of over 30 “Lift Zones” across New Mexico to provide communities with free internet access for the next three years inside designated locations.
These Lift Zones will be installed over the next few months, through the end of 2021, according to Kyle Biederwolf, external affairs manager for Comcast New Mexico.
“One of our main focuses always has been digital equity,” Biederwolf said. “As an ongoing part of this commitment to really connecting low-income families to the internet, we’ve launched this Lift Zone program.”
These Lift Zones are intended to be used by students and adults to get online during a time when internet access is vital for connecting to school and jobs due to the pandemic.
“We are committed to leveling the playing field and making a lasting impact or for generations to come,” Biederwolf said. “The important part for us is our commitment to digital equity and in bridging the digital divide, to ensure then that everybody has access to a strong internet connection.”
In Las Cruces, there will be multiple Lift Zones installed, according to Biederwolf. Comcast is still looking for groups to partner with.
Community impact: Boys & Girls Club
The Boys & Girls Club of Las Cruces had a Lift Zone installed the second week March, according to Ashley Echavarria, chief executive officer of Boys & Girls Club of Las Cruces.
Boys & Girls Club of America has had a national partnership with Comcast for years, which lead tho the club being one of the early recipients of the initiative.
“We were really excited about it, because … we’ve always had internet in the club in our building, but we’re in a very old building,” Echavarria said. “There’s been wires ran all over the place to get internet in the building. It’s not always reliable, especially whenever there’s tons of people on it. So this is a huge gift for our kids.”
Since the Lift Zone was installed, Echavarria said there has been a noticeable difference. Every so often she would hear groups of students exclaiming about being disconnected from their Zoom classes, but she said she hasn’t heard that lately.
The Boys & Girls Club of Las Cruces, 330 W Las Cruces Ave., has been open to students since September. Echavarria said they normally have about 20 to 30 kids in daily, working on school work. Normally, that number would be 80 to 90, but due to social distancing, the club has lowered its capacity.
More: #ConnectNM campaign seeks to expand broadband access to all New Mexicans
Echavarria added that once Las Cruces Public Schools transitions to full reentry on April 6, the Boys & Girls Club will follow up a couple days later with slightly increased capacity and opportunities for after-school care.
She expects this improved internet service will be useful as the club slowly allows more students into the building.
“We serve kids from kindergarten all the way to seniors in high school,” Echavarria said. “Each of them will have access to the internet, which is super important in order for them to get their schooling done.”
Biederwolf said the local Boys & Girls Clubs were the perfect candidates for the Lift Zone to make real impact on the communities.
Biederwolf expects that Comcast will announce more locations in the summer. Nationwide, the company anticipates to install over 1,000 Lift Zone locations. For more information, visit newmexico.comcast.com/lift-zones.
Lift Zone locations in New Mexico
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Central New Mexico
- City of Albuquerque Community & Senior Centers – TBA
- City of Albuquerque Childcare Centers – TBA
- Goodwill of New Mexico
- San Mateo Center
- GoodBuys Center
- New Day Youth & Family Services
- South Valley Economic Development Center
- Youth Development Inc
- Main location
- South Valley location
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Farmington
- Main Clubhouse
- Hilltop Clubhouse
- Bloomfield Clubhouse
- City of Farmington Recreation Centers – TBA
- Goodwill of New Mexico – Farmington Center
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Cruces
- City of Las Cruces Community Centers – TBA
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Fe
- Zona Clubhouse
- Camino De Jacobo Clubhouse
- Valle Vista Clubhouse
- City of Santa Fe Community Centers – TBA
- Girls Inc of Santa Fe
- Silver City Senior Center
- El Grito Early Learning Center
Miranda Cyr, a Report for America corps member, can be reached at [email protected] or @mirandabcyr on Twitter. Show your support for the Report for America program at https://bit.ly/LCSNRFA.
Read or Share this story: https://www.lcsun-news.com/story/news/education/2021/03/22/boys-girls-club-las-cruces-comcasts-lift-zone-wi-fi/6955054002/