The Rocket Mortgage Classic, in partnership with its title sponsor Rocket Mortgage, today announced the beneficiaries of this year’s PGA TOUR event and the launch of the Connect 313 Fund, a new organization that will coordinate digital inclusion strategy across the city of Detroit as part of the Rocket Mortgage Classic’s “Changing the Course” initiative.
The Connect 313 Fund was developed in partnership with the City of Detroit and key stakeholders from private and nonprofit organizations, and is rooted in the City’s visionary “Connect 313” program. In addition to coordinating a city-wide, data-driven digital inclusion strategy, the Fund will make investments into Detroit-based nonprofit partners to increase access to technology, internet and digital literacy resources.
The Rocket Mortgage Classic is committed to using this year’s event to launch and financially support this city-wide organization. Initial funding will supplement and scale programming to build neighborhood technology hubs, collect real-time data and support and empower community advocates to deliver resources that bridge the digital divide.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic certainly magnified the digital divide, the reality is that nearly one in three Detroit families have lacked access to internet and digital resources for decades. It’s important to our entire organization, and our founder and chairman Dan Gilbert, that the Rocket Mortgage Classic serves as a driver of lasting change,” said Jay Farner, CEO of Rocket Mortgage. “The Connect 313 Fund, alongside other primary beneficiaries, will allow us to address long-lasting gaps in access to healthcare, education and employment, which are a consequence of the underlying lack of digital connectivity.
“By ‘Changing the Course,’ we can collectively and collaboratively bridge the digital divide in Detroit once and for all.”
The Connect 313 Fund will be focused on four strategic pillars:
- Collecting accurate neighborhood-level data on technology and internet access.
- Building and supporting neighborhood technology hubs by invested in trusted community centers to grow technology resources.
- Empowering residents to become digital literacy ambassadors in their respective neighborhoods.
- Coordinating city-wide fundraising and public advocacy for systemic change in digital inclusion.
The United Way for Southeastern Michigan will administer the Connect 313 Fund. The Rocket Giving Fund – the 501(c)(3) that operates the Rocket Mortgage Classic, the City of Detroit and the United Way for Southeastern Michigan will facilitate a board and governance structure where community, nonprofit and philanthropic leaders will collectively execute the mission of the Connect 313 Fund. This includes the prioritization and funding of Detroit-based nonprofit organizations in order to achieve universal access to the internet, technology and digital literacy training.
“The Connect 313 Fund will allow us to realize the dream – laid out by our ‘Connect 313’ program – of making Detroit a national model for digital inclusion,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “By striving to provide all Detroiters with access to the digital world, technology and digital literacy, we can ensure they will also have access to the opportunity it brings.”
“I am encouraged that proceeds from the Rocket Mortgage Classic will help create connectivity hubs across the city of Detroit,” said Dr. Darienne Hudson, president and CEO of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “The Connect 313 Fund is a collaborative effort that is vitally important for every family, business, and organization – making technology more accessible to children, families, and communities. This has the potential to serve as a model for what can be done by public/private partnerships in other areas, where technology access gaps exist.”
Additional primary beneficiaries identified by the Rocket Giving Fund for the Changing the Course initiative include:
- The Children’s Foundation – which will work with youth-centric nonprofits to bridge the digital divide within their programming. Partners include 2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic beneficiaries Detroit Police Athletic League, First Tee of Greater Detroit and Midnight Golf.
- Greater Palmer Park Community – a collection of seven neighborhoods around Palmer Park and the Detroit Golf Club dedicated to the holistic improvement and advancement of the entire area.
Funds will be generated to support the Changing the Course initiative in a variety of ways. Among those are the AREA 313 Challenge, the Rocket Mortgage Classic’s online merchandise store, a virtual tee time experience that allows partners access to exclusive online player chats, and the Rocket Mortgage Fall Classic – a re-imagined golf outing and culinary experience planned for September.
The Rocket Mortgage Classic’s “AREA 313” will also serve as a driving force toward generating donations. A nod to Detroit’s famed area code, the AREA 313 Challenge focuses on holes 14, 15 and 16 at Detroit Golf Club. PGA TOUR golfers will strive to make an eagle, hole-in-one and birdie (3-1-3) on those holes during the four rounds of play Thursday-Sunday. If any player registers scores of 3, 1 and 3 on those holes over the four days, the tournament will make a $313,000 donation in their name toward Changing the Course.
Additionally, any time a player scores a 3, a 1 or a 3 on the respective holes, a direct donation will be made by Rocket Mortgage to Changing the Course. An eagle (3) on hole 14 will amount provide a $5,000 donation, a hole-in-one on hole 15 is worth a $25,000 donation and a birdie (3) on hole 16 will net $5,000. It is estimated that more than $200,000 will be generated by Rocket Mortgage through this effort. Tournament partner Delta Dental has already pledged $50,000 to the campaign.
“There are so many ways for our fans to get involved and support the Rocket Mortgage Classic’s Changing the Course initiative,” said Jason Langwell, the Executive Director of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. “Our overriding mission has always been, and will always be, to use this event as a way to effect positive change in the city of Detroit, and we’re confident that we’ll be able to do that for several years to come, thanks to some creative new activations that we have developed to support the cause. We’re looking forward to a terrific tournament week and an impactful one as well.”