Comcast Foundation: Grants for College Readiness

OVERVIEW: The Comcast Foundation is the philanthropic arm of American mass media company Comcast. The Comcast Foundation does not support college readiness as one of its specific areas of focus. Rather, the foundation has shown a historic commitment to both community service and youth development, with an overarching goal of diversity inclusion.

IP TAKE: Your best bet with Comcast is to present a diversity-oriented program that connects college readines to youth development and support for underserved communities. Try reaching out to staff through its Comcast Cares Day program.

PROFILE: The Comcast Foundation was established in 1999 by the Comcast Corporation, and has since distributed funds now closing in on $200 million to nonprofit organizations throughout the country. Its overarching goal is, simply put, to support projects "that strengthen our communities."

On the corporate side, Comcast has more recently merged with NBC Universal, but the corporate consolidation does not affect the philanthropy. The Comcast Foundation and the NBCUniversal Foundation remain separate entities (though they share an umbrella website for information).

The Comcast Foundation focuses on digital literacy, youth development (which it terms “building tomorrow’s leaders”), and community service. College readiness is not explicitly spoken of here, but Comcast's past giving certainly shows a longstanding commitment to that realm. 

The Comcast Foundation does not accept unsolicited requests, but this is nowhere near as big a barrier as it may be when other foundations declare this stipulation. That is because the Comcast Foundation encourages nonprofit organizations (you must have 501(c)(3) status) to reach out through it Comcast Cares Day program. Comcast describes this program as “the nation’s largest single-day corporate volunteer effort.” In 2014, 95,000 volunteers joined in at community sites all around the world—including schools.

Connecting with Comcast Cares Day creates a direct relationship that can lead to the foundation’s support of organizations working to increase postsecondary access and readiness for students from low-income or underrepresented communities. A handful of recent grants include:

  • bilingual programs to help prepare Latino high school students interested in pursuing college education;
  • a program that to expand the Comcast Mobile Computer Lab, which uses technology such as tablet computers in college prep, ESL, and other courses;
  • funding for a Youth Artist Program, a "school year intense portfolio building program [for] up to 15 high school students providing computer-based design training and support for [an] arts college career";
  • the National Urban League's NULITES Youth Leadership Summit, a conference that "gathers young people" to hear speakers on subjects including postsecondary success and career exploration; and
  • mentoring programs through Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of America.

Comcast also has a Digital Connectors program, which it describes as "a year-long course in which students [ages 14-21] receive digital literacy training three times per week at a local school, community center or other facility" via partnerships that Comcast has established with "dozens of local nonprofit organizations." Nonprofit partners are located throughout the country.

Comcast shares a complete list of the organizations it has recently supported, which can be accessed by going to this site, clicking "Show More" under the heading for the Comcast Foundation, and then clicking the "Organizations We Support" link on the right-hand side of the page. 

The catch with the Comcast Foundation is that you must be in an area that receives Comcast media services in order to be eligible for its volunteer services and its funds. You can check Comcast’s consumer website to see if you’re in one of their coverage areas. The foundation requires that you reach out to its local service address and phone number to initiate Comcast Cares Day requests and to introduce your nonprofit.

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