Comcast, Michigan’s No. 1 cable TV company, Wednesday announced this year’s three winners of the Comcast Community Connections Awards in recognition of exemplary work and dedication to local communities. 

The award winners are:

* Kids Against Hunger Coalition;
* Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS); and
* Latin Americans United for Progress.

These organizations were honored for serving as catalysts for positive change and for sharing Comcast’s vision of connecting individuals in the state to resources that positively impact their lives. Each Comcast Community Connections Award recipient will receive a $1,500 grant. 

Comcast also announced that, through the Comcast Foundation, it had given more than $546,000 in scholarships and grants to Michigan students and organizations in 2010. The company’s “Leaders & Achievers Scholarship Program” awarded a total of $114,000 to select high school seniors from across the state for their commitment to their studies, volunteering and their future as a leader. Grants valued at more than $432,000 were presented as part of Comcast Cares Day and throughout the year to a number of local partners, including: ACCESS; Big Brothers Big Sisters; Boys and Girls Clubs; Cranbrook Institute of Science; Detroit Science Center; Focus: HOPE; Hispanic Center of Western Michigan; Hispanic Latino Commission of Michigan; LASED; Mosaic Youth Theatre; Plymouth-Canton Literacy; Urban Leagues; United Way; and Winning Futures. All funds supported local programs that benefit area residents in the communities each group serves.   
“Like the organizations we honor today, Comcast is committed to making a difference in the communities we serve,” said Mary Beth Halprin, vice president of public relations and community affairs for Comcast in Michigan. “Through our community recognition awards, we celebrate outstanding organizations that utilize the power of connections to bring about positive change throughout Michigan.”

The 2011 Comcast Community Connections Awards honorees include:

* Community Service Award: The Community Service Award is given to an organization that has a commitment of volunteerism and giving back to the community as part of its mission. This year’s winner is the Kids Against Hunger Coalition, a humanitarian food-aid organization. Kids Against Hunger’s mission is to significantly reduce the number of hungry children in the USA around the world.  The organization’s approach to achieving its goal includes the packaging of a highly nutritious soy-rice casserole by volunteers and the distribution of those meals to starving children and their families in more than 60 countries through partnerships with humanitarian organizations worldwide. In 2009, volunteers packaged over 48 million meals for families around the world and around the corner. In partnership with Comcast last year, more than 72,000 meals were packaged for Comcast Cares Day and the Dundee Tornado Relief effort. Meals went to families in Michigan and Haiti.

* Digital Literacy Award: The Digital Literacy Award was awarded to ACCESS, because this organization has embraced the future of technology and uses it to further its mission. Through the Comcast Digital Connectors program, ACCESS’ goal was to reach talented young people in an urban area to encourage broadband use throughout their community and help open their minds to career paths with excitement towards digital media. Twenty-seven students between the ages of 14 and 21 are currently enrolled in the Digital Connectors Program. The majority of these students reside in South Dearborn, a geographically isolated community facing a number of challenges, including a higher-than-average poverty rate and a high percentage of Limited English Proficient students. Digital Connectors students completed training modules in the areas of media literacy and community mapping, as well as renovating and managing a computer lab. All students also gave hours of community service both as part of the program and on their own time.

Youth Leadership Development Award: LAUP is this year’s recipient of the Youth Leadership Development Award for its comprehensive approach to youth leadership development. For example, LAUP engages more than 30 students year-round in weekly youth advisory meetings designed to develop leadership skills and form key relationships that help them create their life-vision and a plan to finish high school and pursue education/training beyond graduation. At weekly meetings, participants meet with Hispanic leaders and others from the community who equip and develop them as leaders and develop an understanding of different careers. Students also participate in various service projects and plan an annual Hispanic Youth Leadership Conference for their peers. The 2011 Youth Conference drew 320 students from more than 20 different schools from around Holland, South Haven and Muskegon. Conference attendees were inspired to complete high school, and to pursue higher education and professional careers. A Comcast grant for the youth program included computers for the youth advisory team to facilitate conference registration and presentations.

Comcast’s Michigan Region serves more than one million customers statewide and employs approximately 4,000 people. Comcast has three major call centers located in the state and houses its Michigan Region headquarters in Plymouth.


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