Rocket Mortgage Classic Bridging the Digital Divide in Detroit



In this digital age, it is often argued that the most effective way to get people to communicate with each other is to simply disconnect. For too many in Detroit, however, this has never been a problem.

And that’s the problem.

It’s hard to imagine, perhaps, but more than 250,000 of Detroit’s financially poorest residents continue to live without basic Internet services and / or technology that would even make it possible to connect to the Internet.

Nowadays, almost all actions, education and some information are somehow dependent on the Internet, and without it it is almost impossible to live effectively.

About 40 percent of all Detroit households in the list of the largest cities in the United States with the least connectivity have difficulty with little or no Internet access. Additional statistics paint an even more alarming picture. Currently, 40 percent of Detroit households do not have a cellular data plan, 30 percent do not have Internet access at home, and the only way 22 percent of Detroit households can access the Internet is through a cell phone.

In an effort to help bridge the digital divide in Detroit, Rocket Mortgage Classic continues its multi-year commitment to its Changing Course Initiative. To support its implementation, the City of Detroit has partnered with private and nonprofit organizations to establish the initiative’s primary funding mechanism, the Connect 313 Fund.

In 2020, the Rocket Mortgage Classic raised $ 2.4 million in rate change, most of which went directly to the Connect 313 fund.

The Connect 313 Foundation’s four-part strategy begins with collecting data on technology and Internet access at the neighborhood level. In other words, you need to understand the size and scale of what is at stake.

From there, they coordinate fundraising and advocacy for systemic change with regards to digital integration, support technology centers in their neighborhood to build technical resources, and empower residents to become digital literacy ambassadors.

The Connect 313 Fund was developed ahead of last year’s tournament by Rocket Mortgage Classic in partnership with the City of Detroit and United Way for Southeast Michigan – with additional contributions from the public, charities and businesses.

“I am thrilled that the proceeds from the Rocket Mortgage Classic will help establish communications hubs throughout Detroit,” said Dr. Darienne Hudson, President and CEO of United Way for Southeast Michigan. “The Connect 313 Foundation is a collaborative effort that is vital for every family, business and organization to make technology more accessible to children, families and communities. This can serve as a role model for what can be done by public / private partnerships in other areas where there are gaps in access to technology. ”

“The Connect 313 Foundation will enable us to realize the dream of our Connect 313 program of making Detroit a national digital integration model,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “As we strive to provide all Detroiters with access to the digital world, technology and digital literacy, we can ensure that they also have access to the opportunities it provides.”

In addition to coordinating a city-wide data-driven digitalization strategy, Connect 313 Fund will invest in non-profit partners in Detroit to expand access to technology, the Internet and related resources.

The proceeds from the 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic will be used to financially support the Connect 313 Fund in support of the Change Course initiative.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly widened the digital divide, the reality is that nearly one in three Detroit families have not had access to the Internet and digital resources for decades. It is important for our entire organization and for our Founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert that the Rocket Mortgage Classic program is an engine of lasting change, ”said Jay Farner, CEO of Rocket Mortgage. “The Connect 313 Foundation, along with other key beneficiaries, will enable us to bridge long-standing gaps in access to health care, education and employment that result from a lack of digital connectivity.”

In addition, Emergency Broadband Benefit 313 (EBB 313), which grew out of the Connect 313 Fund, is a federal program designed to help households eligible to access the Internet and technology devices. That means a $ 50 monthly discount on internet access and a one-time subsidy of $ 100 on a desktop, laptop, or tablet for eligible residents.

As an example, the application process requires Internet access. This confuses many of those who need these services the most.

However, instead of missing out on an opportunity, residents can turn to a non-profit partner for help with the app on the EBB federal portal and even choose an Internet service provider. Current supplier partners include AT&T, Comcast, T-Mobile, Verizon, Human-IT, and the Detroit Community Technology Project.

“When I speak to residents, I hear both concern and appreciative comments about the work done,” said Joshua D. Edmonds, director of digital technology for the City of Detroit. “Historically, as a nation, we have left our communities to their fate when it comes to consumer technology. It’s a shame how ISPs have handled and continue to treat our most vulnerable residents.

“My role illuminates the desire to correct this narrative by prioritizing connecting residents to the technology (Internet, computers, tech support) that works best for them. Through our broader collaborative effort through the Connect 313 Foundation, we have a growing roster of several hundred organizations and residents committed to bridging the digital divide in Detroit. This exposure leads to the development of one of the most important ingredients for this work – trust. If we can continue to cultivate, maintain and build trust from the wider community, the digital divide will be bridged. ”

One of the most fun and effective ways to raise funds for the Connect 313 Fund at Rocket Mortgage Classic is AREA 313 Challenge on holes 14-16 (items 5, 3 and 4, respectively). If a player can post 3-1-3 cumulatively over four competition rounds, Rocket Mortgage Classic will donate $ 313,000 on behalf of that player to change course. This triple win isn’t the only way to raise funds with the AREA 313 Challenge. Eagles and birds numbered 14 and 16, respectively, bring in $ 5,000 in net profit, while aces from par-3 in 15th place are good for donations of $ 25,000.

Last year, thanks to 15 eagles on the 14th hole and 63 birds on the 16th hole, Rocket Mortgage donated $ 385,000 to support the Change Course Project.

The digital divide in places like Detroit is unfortunately not uncommon. The lack of funds to acquire basic technical resources continues to affect the significant representation of the US population. Children fall behind in school, parents cannot find work or even get information and access to medicine.

With the support of Rocket Mortgage Classic each year, this division in Detroit is getting smaller every day, one connected line at a time.

“Our main mission has been and will always be to use this event as a way to influence positive change in the City of Detroit,” said Jason Langwell, CEO of Rocket Mortgage Classic. “We are confident that we will be able to do this within a few years, thanks to some new creative measures that we have developed to support this cause. We are looking forward to an amazing tournament week as well as a rewarding one. “


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