What's the Comcast Foundation Up to in Philly?

If you use Comcast as your TV and Internet service provider, you probably have a few opinions about the company’s customer service representatives, price brackets, and broadband speed. Service complaints aside, this communications company has established a philanthropic foundation that’s doing impressive work. Founded in 1999, the Comcast Foundation has provided over $140 million to nonprofit organizations that strengthen communities. Although Comcast’s grantmaking program has a national reach, the foundation has been paying close attention to its hometown, Philadelphia.

In a recent interview with the Philadelphia Business Journal, John Schanz, Comcast Cable’s Executive Vice President and Chief Network Officer, said that his company has committed to at least 35 nonprofit projects in Philadelphia. As part of the Comcast Cares Day Initiative, Schanz personally helped out with cleanup efforts and an inspirational mural painting at Woodrow Wilson Middle School and the local Asian-Pacific affinity group. “For me it’s one of those things where it’s another opportunity to give back and pay it forward,” Schanz said about the initiative, which enlisted 80,000 employees across 700 projects. “I love that about the company and I’ve always participated.”

But the Comcast Foundation’s philanthropy extends well beyond a single day each year. With an emphasis on diversity, the program’s grantmaking focus areas are digital literacy, leadership development, and community service projects. In 2012, the Comcast Foundation provided $16.2 million in grants to over 1,000 organizations. Only organizations that operate within Comcast Cable’s service areas are considered for grants, and Philadelphia is the company’s home base.

The children’s charity of Greater Philadelphia, Variety, recently won a $20,000 grant from the Comcast Foundation to buy tablet computers and apps to use in their Direct Care for Kids program. This program serves special needs children in low-income neighborhoods who rely upon wheelchairs, walkers, and medical braces. The foundation’s Club Tech provides support to over 2,000 Boys & Girls Clubs of America, including 12 in Philadelphia, and its Comcast Digital Connectors program helps youth in underserved communities become more digitally literate.

Other Philadelphia-based organizations that have received Comcast support include The Choice is Yours, Inc., The Committee of Seventy, The Food Trust, Russell Byers Charter School, and the Settlement Music School of Philadelphia. On the national scene, Comcast has long-standing relationships with prominent Hispanic groups and nonprofit leaders, which stirred up some media attention with that whole Time Warner Cable buyout.

Although the Comcast Foundation doesn’t accept unsolicited grant requests, it does encourage nonprofits to share information about their programs and funding needs. Philadelphia nonprofits can get in touch by calling the Comcast Foundation at 215-286-1700 or by writing to 1 Comcast Center, 48th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19103-2838.

If your nonprofit operates within a different Comcast service area, you’ll need to look at your bill and use the local Comcast address to send in correspondence. Interested non-profits can also get a hold of Comcast through their main website at http://www.comcast.com. Interestingly, the corporate office relies upon the help of local Comcast employees to determine how to best allocate funds throughout the country. You can learn a little bit about the Comcast Foundation’s President, Charisse R. Lillie, on the company staff bio page.