Cox commits $60 million to close digital gap for low-income youth

To help Arizona families impacted by COVID-19, Cox Communications announced it is extending its offer of two free months internet service for new customers. 

Pat Esser

“Connection is more important than ever before, especially for kids,” said Cox Communications’ President and CEO Pat Esser.

Esser also announced that the company is pledging $60 million over the next year to close the digital learning gap for the neediest students. 

The telecommunications giant also is keeping 2,500-plus free wifi hotspots open to anyone who needs it in the Phoenix and Southern Arizona regions. 

Families receiving some form of government assistance qualify 

Eligible families can receive the two free months by signing up for the Connect2Compete internet service through the rest of the year. After two free months, the service cost is only $9.95 per month. 

The program is available to families who have at least one child that is a K-12 student at home and participate in one of these government subsidy programs: the National School Lunch Program, SNAP, TANF, Head Start, WIC, LIHEAP, or Public Housing

Students without digital options left behind 

The announcement is part of a continuing commitment by COX to help students compete academically during the pandemic disruptions. 

“We continue to look at ways to support kids that need the tools to succeed and know it starts with an internet connection, device and digital resources,” Esser said.

Through June 30, 2021 Cox is taking steps to help bridge the learning divide including:

  • Actively promote the low-cost Connect2Compete program, including providing toolkits for schools to help families connect
  • Continue no requirement of deposits or application fees and proactively waive late fees for eligible Connect2Compete customers
  • Provide flexible payment arrangements for eligible customers who contact Cox with an inability to pay due to pandemic hardships
  • Partner with cities, school districts and community-based organizations to connect large numbers of low-income students to the internet

Cox employees raise $560,000 for youth and education 

As part of its ongoing mission to help youth and education, Cox’s charitable arm, Cox Charities, has selected more than 100 Arizona nonprofits in Phoenix and Southern Arizona to receive nearly $560,000 in grant funding. 

Most of the money comes from donations from the company’s 3,100 Arizona employees. For almost 35 years, Cox employees have pitched in annually to raise a total $8.5 million for Arizona nonprofits that support youth and education. 

Keeping children and students connected so they can succeed academically was particularly important to the employees this year, they said. 

“Through Cox Charities, we help ensure that our youth get the educational services they need and don’t fall through the cracks. That makes me extremely proud,” Cox employee Astrid Valencia said. 

Grants range from $2,500 to $10,000 this year. 

Arizona Autism United said it is using the grant money to provide online access for 800 children in their homes. 

Another nonprofit, School Connect, is buying 67 Lenovo touchscreen laptop computers with Office 365 software installed so low-income families in the Litchfield Elementary School District can sign up for the Connect2Compete program. 

Families interested in the Connect2Compete can get qualified for the service on their mobile device or computer by visiting Cox Connect2Compete.

To find a free wifi hotspot, go to: Cox wifi 

Victoria Harker

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