Detroit Golf Club, Detroit, MI — June 8, 2023
If you were going to start a new professional golf tournament, the timing could not have been worse than doing so a year before a worldwide pandemic struck. Despite the bad circumstances, the Rocket Mortgage Classic played annually at the Detroit Golf Club since 2019, has survived and even thrived. In total, the Rocket Mortgage Classic has raised $6.8
million for Detroit-based charitable organizations since its inception.
Certainly, the most impressive accomplishment was made by the “Changing the Course” initiative, which has raised more than $3.8 million toward bridging Detroit’s digital divide.
Noted golf broadcaster, sports analyst, and Ann Arbor resident Mike Tirico was in Detroit this week to preview this year’s tournament, which he will be hosting for the Golf Channel’s broadcast of the event, June 29 – July 2nd. According to Tirico, no professional golf event he has covered has impacted the local community with more positive and successful charitable efforts than the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Tirico’s comments were echoed with the release this week of Connect 313’s 2022
Impact Report. Connect 313 is a partnership between the Rocket Community Fund, the City of Detroit, the Rocket Mortgage Classic, and the United Way for Southeastern Michigan (UWSEM).
The 2022 Impact Report 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.
“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.
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 an ace 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.”