Detroit grows from 40 percent of households being digitally included to 67.5 percent in just two years since it became focal point of golf event; $700,000 directed to Connect 313 Fund in support of landmark digital inclusion initiative; Nearly 85,000 Detroit households connected to Emergency Broadband Benefit through EBB 313 campaign first launched at 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic Media Day
DETROIT, February 10, 2022 – The Rocket Giving Fund (the nonprofit which manages the Rocket Mortgage Classic), in partnership with title sponsor Rocket Mortgage, today announced more than $1.35 million was raised in 2021 through Detroit’s third-annual PGA TOUR event to support local nonprofits. The organizations also announced $805,000 of these funds were directed and invested with community partners supporting the event’s “Changing the Course” initiative, which is working to end Detroit’s digital divide.
At the inception of the Changing the Course initiative, Detroit was rated the least connected large city in America. Through the hard work alongside partners Rocket Mortgage, Microsoft, the United Way for Southeastern Michigan and others, more and more Detroiters are gaining access to the internet. In 2020, roughly 40 percent of Detroit households were digitally included. Today that number has grown to 67.5 percent.
A digitally included household means at least one member in the household has a reliable broadband connection, a working non-smartphone computer/tablet and the knowledge of how to use it.
“It is our passion to use the Rocket Giving Fund as a force for change and an opportunity to bridge Detroit’s digital divide,” said Jay Farner, CEO of Rocket Companies (NYSE: RKT) and the Chairman of the Rocket Giving Fund. “The success of Changing the Course is measured by the number of Detroit families who are now able to access the internet as well as the brighter future digital inclusion provides. While we’ve already seen a near 70 percent improvement in the number of Detroiters with access to digital tools, we are driven even harder by this success to make an even greater impact through the 2022 event and beyond.”
The following donations were made by the Rocket Giving Fund to organizations in support of its Changing the Course initiative:
· $700,000 to the Connect 313 Fund
· $100,000 to the Children’s Foundation, which acts as a fiduciary for Midnight Golf, Detroit Police Athletic League and First Tee Greater Detroit.
· $5,000 to Human-I-T
Rocket Mortgage invested $400,000 through the Rocket Mortgage Classic’s “AREA 313,” or holes 14-16 at the Detroit Golf Club. On the most charitable three holes in golf, golfers who scored a 3 on Hole 14 (an eagle) or a 3 on Hole 16 (a birdie) triggered a $5,000 donation to Changing the Course and golfers who scored a 1 on Hole 15 (a hole-in-one) generated a $25,000 donation.
“The success of the 2021 Rocket Mortgage is an incredible platform to increase digital inclusion for Detroiters in every neighborhood,” said Laura Grannemann, Vice President of the Rocket Community Fund (the philanthropic partner of Rocket Companies) and a Rocket Giving Fund board member. “Our Changing the Course initiative is driving real change, and we are committed to building on this momentum at this year’s event.”
The Rocket Giving Fund also made the following disbursements:
· $109,828 to the Greater Palmer Park Community
· $437,169 to Birdies for Charity
“We’re grateful to work alongside such dedicated partners who all share the same vision and tirelessly work toward achieving it,” said Jason Langwell, Executive Director of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. “The continued support of the countless individuals and organizations involved in the Rocket Mortgage Classic allows us to continue Changing the Course across Detroit.”
Connect 313 Fund
The Changing the Course mission is largely executed by the Connect 313 Fund, which was founded through the 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic and is rooted in the City of Detroit’s digital inclusion strategy. The Connect 313 Fund is a coordinating mechanism for all digital inclusion stakeholders driving collectively toward the singular vision of bridging the digital divide.
The Connect 313 Fund has tirelessly worked to impact the outcome for Detroit residents, ensuring that households become digitally included and that residents are able to access job training, education, telemedicine and other necessities that are the hallmark of a connected and thriving community. These efforts have allowed a vast majority – 67.5 percent – of Detroit households to become digitally included after only 30 percent enjoyed that status three years ago.
A significant driver for the growth of digitally-included households was a Connect 313 awareness campaign – “EBB 313” – which kicked off at the 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic Media Day. The goal of EBB 313 was to connect Detroit households to the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB), a federal program that subsidized the cost of internet and technological devices for eligible households which has since been replaced by the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). EBB provided low-income households with a $50 per month discount on internet access (now $30 through ACP), as well as a one-time $100 subsidy on a technology device. As a result of the campaign, more than 82,500 Detroit households were connected to the Emergency Broadband Benefit, equaling more than 30% of all Detroit households.
Connect 313, which has already invested than $40 million in pursuit of making Detroit a model for digital equity and inclusion, today released an Impact Update, which provides a comprehensive synopsis of these and other accomplishments.
“We are well on our way to realizing the dream of every Detroiter having access to the internet, technology and digital literacy training within a ten minute walk of their home,” said Joshua Edmonds, Chief Advocate for Connect 313 and the City of Detroit’s Director of Digital Inclusion. “The Rocket Mortgage Classic is more than just a funding partner, they are a thought partner. Together we work to change lives through digital inclusion every day.”
The PGA TOUR and Rocket Mortgage recently announced an extension of the title sponsorship for the Rocket Mortgage Classic through 2027. The fourth-annual Rocket Mortgage Classic will be held July 25-31 at the historic Detroit Golf Club.
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. Rocket Mortgage closed $320 billion dollars of mortgage volume across all 50 states in 2020.
Rocket Mortgage moved its headquarters to downtown Detroit in 2010. Today, Rocket Mortgage and Rocket Companies employ 26,000 full-time team members nationwide. The company generates loan production from web centers located in Detroit, Cleveland and Phoenix and operates a centralized loan processing facility in Detroit. Rocket Mortgage ranked highest in the country for customer satisfaction for mortgage servicing by J.D. Power the past eight straight years, 2014 – 2021.
Rocket Companies, Rocket Mortgage’s parent company, ranked #5 on Fortune’s list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in 2021 and has placed in the top third of the list for 18 consecutive years.
For more information and company news visit RocketMortgage.com/PressRoom.