Localism & Employee Involvement Are Keys to
Mediacom’s CSR

Marsha EmpringhamCorporate social responsibility (CSR) is a concept that takes many forms, but it basically means that a business has a responsibility to the greater community that exists around it. While business leaders may be driven to maximize profits, it doesn’t have to be an “either-or” proposition when it comes to implementing CSR programs. Corporate practices and policies can have a positive influence on both company and community, and Mediacom employees know this because they’ve seen the example set by Rocco Commisso, the company’s founder, Chairman and CEO.  

Mediacom’s 4,100 employees know that Commisso immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 11, and that his hard work and pursuit of an excellent education epitomize the American Dream. They know he is committed to creating opportunities for others, and they see those values in tangible ways that include Mediacom’s investments in education, its commitment to digital equity, and its response to heightened levels of food insecurity. 

Through the company’s Entrepreneur of Tomorrow Awards, September 11th Memorial Scholarship, and World Class Scholarship programs, Mediacom annually awards 275 scholarships to students who live in communities throughout the company’s service area. In many cases, scholarship awards are announced during school ceremonies with parents and community residents in attendance.  Often, a Mediacom employee is also there to present the scholarship to the selected award winner. That personal touch humanizes the company and connects the local employee with students, parents, and the public.  

Educational support is a popular target and an important piece of corporate philanthropy. But CSR strategies can go further and be more meaningful to customers when community investment visibly aligns with the company’s brand. Cable companies, including Mediacom, make broadband service available to most Americans, but many families remain unconnected because they cannot afford home internet service. That’s why it makes sense for Mediacom and other cable broadband providers to offer low-cost internet service and actively promote digital equity.   

Mediacom’s low-cost internet program is called Connect-2-Compete (C2C). It clearly aligns with the company’s core mission to connect people to what matters by delivering reliable internet service to residents in mid-sized and smaller communities. C2C is a community investment that boosts human infrastructure by creating a pathway for low-income families to connect their K-12 students to virtual classrooms, and to make online services and resources readily available to all family members. 

To deliver C2C to families without home internet service, Mediacom donates labor and materials to install and activate service. On average, upfront costs and the lease-free modem equate to $240 per residence. Once installed, C2C customers pay a flat monthly service fee of $9.95, or they receive free service through partnerships Mediacom has in place with local schools. The company’s investment is the critical piece in an equation that makes C2C a much-needed solution for income-challenged families.
Mathew Watrous
When the pandemic moved classrooms online, Mediacom Broadband Specialist Mathew Watrous (pictured above) and his Des Moines-area colleagues quickly installed internet service to ensure that K-12 students were connected to online learning. 

In February of 2020, 2,300 families across Mediacom’s footprint were using C2C – but that was before COVID-19. When the pandemic caused major shifts and school closures, demand for C2C internet quadrupled. Mediacom stepped up to meet the challenge of ensuring home internet connections for every family with a child enrolled in the Des Moines Public Schools – the largest school district in Iowa. The number of Des Moines-area families using Mediacom C2C rose from 216 to 1,315 in just a 10-week period between the end of March and early June in 2020.  

Mediacom Donation
Mediacom’s donation to Ozarks Food Harvest (pictured above) provided 40,000 meals to residents in southern Missouri. The company donated $100,000 to 10 regional affiliates of Feeding America to help address food insecurity in rural and non-urban areas. Pictured at the Springfield, Missouri site (left to right): Steve Bennett, Mediacom Senior Director for Area Operations; Jennifer Sickinger, Community Engagement Manager for Ozarks Food Harvest; and Brian Odom, Mediacom Senior Manager for Human Resources.

Across the company, well over 10,000 families – all with limited financial resources – were connected to Mediacom C2C internet by the fall of 2020. Since then, there’s been no pause in momentum. Mediacom also participates in the federal government’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program and continues its outreach to underserved communities as part of its commitment to close the digital divide.  

Investments to expand digital equity and fund student scholarships have been sustained components of Mediacom’s CSR strategies. Another prong was added during the final weeks of 2020. That’s when Mediacom employees were among the millions of people working from home, and it was hard to miss the news coverage showing incredibly long lines at food distribution centers across America. During virtual team chats, employees shared their reactions to local news coverage describing unprecedented needs and they expressed a desire “to do something.” In a normal year, employee groups would sponsor food drives and shop for items to donate to local shelters that serve people in transition or crisis. But during a time of social distancing and remote work, different actions were needed.  

Mediacom chose to contribute $100,000 to local food banks affiliated with Feeding America. Company executives asked for employee feedback to select Feeding America affiliates that serve rural and smaller communities in company service areas. For example, Ozarks Food Harvest distributes nutritious food to families in 28 counties across southern Missouri. Within that area, Mediacom has customers and employees living in 40 communities. Employees know their company stepped up and contributed to meet local needs – making food available to neighbors and customers. 

Localism is central to Mediacom’s decision-making when it comes to CSR and corporate philanthropy. Local investment is the focus Mediacom has had since it began acquiring and upgrading smaller-market cable systems over 25 years ago. It’s just as important today. 



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