· Collaborative partnership continues to connect Detroiters with access to high-speed internet, digital devices and digital training
· New report released at Media Day for Rocket Mortgage Classic, which has raised more than $3.8 million toward bridging Detroit’s digital divide through its “Changing the Course” initiative
· Opening of new Human-I-T retail store and launch of Park WiFi program will further the goal of a fully digitally included Detroit
DETROIT (June 5, 2023) – Connect 313, a partnership between the Rocket Community Fund, City of Detroit, Rocket Mortgage Classic and the United Way for Southeastern Michigan (UWSEM), today released its 2022 Impact Report, which highlighted that 70% of Detroit households are now considered “digitally included,” up dramatically from 40% when the effort started in 2020.
By definition, digitally included means that a household has access to broadband internet, a technological device and at least one person in the home with the knowledge to use it.
The report was released in conjunction with Media Day for the 2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic, which helped formally launch Connect 313 in 2020 through its “Changing the Course” initiative. In the last three years, Detroit’s first – and only – PGA TOUR event has helped raise more than $3.8 million for digital inclusion efforts in Detroit with Connect 313 as the primary beneficiary. In total, the Rocket Mortgage Classic has raised $6.8 million for Detroit-based charitable organizations since its inception in 2019.
“Through the philanthropic impact of the Rocket Mortgage Classic and an incredible spirit of collaboration among many partners, Detroit has gone from being one of the least-connected major cities in America to the model for how to bridge the digital divide,” said Laura Grannemann, Chair of the Connect 313 Board and Executive Director of the Rocket Community Fund, the philanthropic arm of Rocket Companies (NYSE: RKT). “The work of Connect 313 is ensuring that Detroiters are no longer being left behind and have access to education, job training, telemedicine and other opportunities that critically rely on digital access.”
The report also highlighted that more than 75,000 technological devices have been distributed to Detroiters to date and that Connect 313 successfully expanded its network of neighborhood technology hubs from 5 to 22. These neighborhood technology hubs – which are located in every Detroit City Council District and provide free access to computers, reliable internet service and digital literacy training opportunities – served more than 5,000 Detroiters last year. The report estimates that more than 10,000 Detroiters will utilize the neighborhood technology hubs by the end of this year.
Connect 313’s most significant success in 2022 was helping more than 100,000 Detroit households enroll in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a federal program providing discounted internet access and a one-time, $100 subsidy toward a technological device. Detroit’s enrollment rate of more than 59% is the highest in the country for cities with more than 150,000 eligible households.
Free Park WiFi and Human-I-T Retail Store Strengthen Digital Ecosystem
In addition to connecting residents directly to resources, Connect 313’s creativity, coordination and support has helped strengthen Detroit’s overall digital inclusion ecosystem. This includes the recent launch of the Park WiFi initiative, which is bringing free public WiFi to five Detroit parks: Bradby Park, Clark Park, Chandler Park, Palmer Park and McDuffy Park. The pilot program, which was coordinated in part through Connect 313 and funded through $265,000 in grants from the Detroit Pistons, Rocket Community Fund and Knight Foundation, has already rolled out in Palmer Park, the home of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. It is estimated that 5,000 residential homes, or more than 12,600 residents, are within a half-mile walking distance of the five parks.
Additionally, Human-I-T, a nonprofit that refurbishes and resells used technology at subsidized prices, will be opening a new brick-and-mortar retail store at Seven Mile and Livernois, thanks to funding from the Rocket Community Fund and support from Connect 313. The first of its kind, Human-I-T’s retail store will provide Detroiters with not only access to digital devices, but also information on how to take advantage of low-cost internet, digital literacy training, and tech support. The store will open to the public on June 16.
“Connect 313 addresses a critical technology gap for all Detroit residents,” said Dr. Darienne Hudson, CEO of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, which administers the Connect 313 Fund. “We know there is no one-size-fits-all solution to bridging the digital divide. It takes deep collaboration, a commitment to innovation and, above all else, a passion for serving families and driving systemic change.”
AREA 313 Returns to Raise Money for Changing the Course
The Rocket Mortgage Classic, through its AREA 313 activation, will continue raising critical funds to allow Connect 313 to serve Detroiters. “AREA 313,” or holes 14-16 at the Detroit Golf Club, are the most charitable three holes in golf. Celebrity scramble golfers and PGA TOUR professionals who score a 3 on Hole 14 (an eagle) or a 3 on Hole 16 (a birdie) trigger a $2,500 donation toward Changing the Course, and golfers who score a 1 on Hole 15 (a hole-in-one) generate a $10,000 donation.
Launched in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rocket Mortgage Classic’s Changing the Course mission aims to bridge Detroit’s digital divide in conjunction with Connect 313 partners. Through AREA 313 and other activations during the nearly week-long event, the Rocket Mortgage Classic has provided critical funding for the partnership’s infrastructure and administration.
“The Rocket Mortgage Classic is about more than creating a world-class golf event, it’s about giving back to our hometown of Detroit and serving our community in the most impactful way possible,” said Jason Langwell, Executive Director of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. “Through our Changing the Course mission, we are honored to invest in Connect 313 and the residents it serves.”
The Rocket Mortgage Classic also recently debuted “Golf and Give” – a new fundraising program to support local nonprofits – making it easy for golf fans to contribute to their favorite charitable organizations. Golf and Give enables nonprofits throughout Michigan to sell grounds tickets to the Rocket Mortgage Classic, with $30 from each ticket purchase directly supporting their mission.
The Rocket Mortgage Classic returns to Detroit Golf Club for its fifth year June 27-July 2.
About the Rocket Mortgage Classic
The Rocket Mortgage Classic made history in 2019 as the first PGA TOUR event ever held in the city of Detroit, and has continued to make a positive and lasting impact on the city and its residents through its multi-year Changing the Course campaign, established in 2020 to end the digital divide in Detroit and ensure digital accessibility for all city residents. The Rocket Mortgage Classic was the most awarded event during the 2018-19 PGA TOUR season, being recognized for “Best Special Event” (then known as the AREA 313 Celebrity Challenge) and “Best Tournament Sales” as well as being honored with the first “Fair Way Award” for its diversity and inclusion initiatives. More information is available at RocketMortgageClassic.com and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@RocketClassic).
About Rocket Mortgage
Detroit-based Rocket Mortgage, the nation’s largest home mortgage lender and part of Rocket Companies (NYSE: RKT), enables the American Dream of homeownership and financial freedom through its obsession with an industry-leading, digital-driven client experience. In late 2015, it introduced the first fully digital, completely online mortgage experience. Since its founding in 1985, Rocket Mortgage has closed $1.5 trillion of mortgage volume across all 50 states. Rocket Mortgage moved its headquarters to downtown Detroit in 2010. The company generates loan production from web centers located in Detroit, Cleveland and Phoenix.
Rocket Companies, Rocket Mortgage’s parent company, ranked #7 on Fortune’s list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in 2022 and has placed in the top third of the list for 19 consecutive years.
For more information and company news visit RocketMortgage.com/PressRoom.
About the Connect 313 Fund
The Connect 313 Fund was formed in 2020 to coordinate and support city-wide digital inclusion efforts with a data-driven, community-based philosophy. It was launched at the Rocket Mortgage Classic PGA TOUR event as part of the tournament’s “Changing the Course” initiative.
Through the contributions of Rocket Mortgage and other tournament partners, the Connect 313 Fund was developed to support the strategy of Connect 313. The Connect 313 Fund is administered by United Way for Southeastern Michigan.
For more information visit https://connect313.org.