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Here’s the Key to Unlocking a Future of Unlimited Possibilities for Broward County Communities

People on a tour of an education center.

A conversation focused on Broward County’s future started with a tour inside a one-of-a-kind facility. Junior Achievement of South Florida leaders recently welcomed community nonprofits and technology leaders to their state-of-the-art Biztown and Finance Park in Coconut Creek. The program serves over 400 students, daring their bright minds to dream of future careers as creators, entrepreneurs, innovators or professionals.

People touring an educational facility
Nonprofit and technology leaders tour Junior Achievement of South Florida.

The tour served as the opening scene for an incredible conversation between community nonprofits and technology leaders, including Comcast Cable’s Chief Diversity Officer, Loren Hudson. The roundtable Empowering Communities – Connecting South Floridians to Digital Opportunity took place on Friday, March 8th.

Community Leaders Explore Biztown at the Junior Achievement of South Florida.

In all, these 13 passionate leaders shared ideas about how to enhance and promote digital opportunity across Broward County:

Roundtable discussion guests
Comcast’s Jeff Buzzelli and Loren Hudson lead the nonprofit leaders in a discussion.

Jeff Buzzelli kicked off the conversation. He complimented Junior Achievement of South Florida for their outstanding work in helping shape our communities’ next changemakers. “I am blown away by what I just saw,” he said, referring to the immersive experience offered inside Biztown and Finance Park.

Man smiling
Buzzelli talks about Comcast’s investments in Broward County nonprofits.

The leaders focused on issues impacting Broward County’s underserved communities such as connectivity, digital skills training and technology devices. Those at the table all agreed digital access and its adoption must remain a top priority for organizations serving populations both young and old.

“One key element that I would like to emphasize is accessibility, which is imperative for the high school programs we have developed,” said Junior Achievement of South Florida President, Laurie Sallarulo. “As we continue to grow, we need to make sure that every single kid, every single student, has access to the Internet. This is the only way we can help them polish their digital skills and prepare them to be active members of society.”

Woman giving a tour
Junior Achievement’s Laurie Sallarulo gives roundtable participants a tour of the facility.

Kristina DaSilva with Volunteer Action Center of Broward said educating the public about how to properly use the Internet is just as important. She said digital threats such as cyber-bullying and human trafficking do impact communities.

Woman speaking at roundtable discussion.
Kristina DaSilva speaks about the important of digital safety.

According to Florida Health, 88.8% of households in Florida were subscribed to broadband in 2022, which means millions of people still do not have access to reliable, high-speed Internet inside their homes. The lack of connectivity for some families puts them at an economic disadvantage, according to advocates like Sheri Brown Grosvenor with the Community Foundation of Broward. She said to stay competitive in today’s labor market, people must possess digital skills.

Roundtable participant speaking
Sheri Brown Grosvenor speaks about how her organization supports community nonprofits.

HANDY, Inc’s Kirk Brown challenged the group to dive a little deeper and think about two types of job seekers – those that want to work and those that have to work. He said the latter requires different considerations. Brown said companies need to consider different marketing approaches to what he refers to ‘the yearning to earn’ population and ways to empower them to succeed in the workforce.

“The communities we represent do not go to school,” said Kirk. “They survive school and we must adapt our pitch to them.”

Comcast Cable’s Loren Hudson intently listened to the engaging discussion. She said the technology leader is aware and investing in community organizations doing the hands-on work to shrink the digital divide in South Florida. Hudson proudly spoke about Project UP, the company’s $1 billion commitment to connect people to the Internet, advance economic mobility and build futures of unlimited possibilities.

Woman talking at roundtable discussion.
Hudson talks about Project UP and investing in nonprofit partners.

Near the end of the hour-long conversation, Melena Mendez with Big Brothers Big Sisters reiterated what many know to be true. A child’s success requires a caring adult in their life. Mendez said 100% of her organization’s students graduate high school and they’re better positioned for tomorrow because of the mentorship they receive.

The frank conversation closed in agreement that digital opportunity is key to unlocking a better future for all of Broward County.

Group posing for a picture.
Comcast makes a $10,000 Investment in the Junior Achievement of South Florida.

Empowering Communities – Connecting South Floridians to Digital Opportunity was one of three impactful events made possible by Comcast. The others were a powerhouse panel of women who discussed ways to shrink South Florida’s digital divide and a volunteer activity in West Palm Beach to pack essentials for 267 children in need.

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