Eight million people in eight years.

That’s how many low-income residents nationwide have been connected to the internet through Comcast’s Internet Essentials program since its 2011 inception, the company announced at three Pittsburgh venues Thursday.

Comcast, in a news release, called the program “the nation’s largest, most comprehensive, and most successful low-income broadband adoption initiative.” Internet Essentials serves eligible low-income households, plus individuals with disabilities and seniors.

Of those 8 million U.S. residents, the Philadelphia-based company noted that 680,000 live in Pennsylvania and 120,000 in the Greater Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area.

Spokeswoman Josephine Posti said 1,100 Washington County families have signed up since 2011.

A Comcast executive, David L. Cohen, arrived at the three locations bearing gifts. His first stop was at an event co-hosted by Mayor Bill Peduto at the Veterans Leadership Program facility on South Side, where Comcast presented free laptop computers to 30 veterans.

An assembly at The Neighborhood Academy in Stanton Heights followed, where Cohen announced a grant for the private school’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum and Comcast’s intent to help the academy develop advanced digital literacy skills. Students received free laptop computers and opportunity cards for six months of free internet service at home.

Comcast then joined Strong Women Strong Girls Pittsburgh in an assembly at Dilworth Elementary School, a public school where Cohen announced two grants, including a Dell equipment grant to SWSGP. Students also were presented with free laptops and opportunity cards.

For more information, or to apply for the program in seven different languages, visit www.internetessentials.com or call 1-855-846-8376.

Business Writer

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won eight individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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