Rocket Mortgage Classic Launches Connect 313 Fund to Bridge Digital Divide in Detroit

The Rocket Mortgage Classic, in partnership with Rocket Mortgage, has announced the beneficiaries of this year’s PGA Tour event and the launch of the Connect 313 Fund, a new organization that will coordinate a digital inclusion strategy across the city of Detroit as part of the tournament’s Changing the Course initiative.
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Detroit Golf Club
The Rocket Mortgage Classic has launched the Connect 313 Fund to support an effort to bring internet and technology to Detroit residents. // Image courtesy of the Detroit Golf Club

The Rocket Mortgage Classic, in partnership with Rocket Mortgage, has announced the beneficiaries of this year’s PGA Tour event and the launch of the Connect 313 Fund, a new organization that will coordinate a digital inclusion strategy across the city of Detroit as part of the tournament’s Changing the Course initiative.

The event is scheduled to take place July 2-5 at the Detroit Golf Club. It was originally scheduled for May 25-31 but was moved due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“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,” says Jay Farner, CEO of Rocket Mortgage.

“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. The Connect 313 Fund, alongside other primary beneficiaries, will allow us to address long-lasting gaps in access to health care, education, and employment, which are a consequence of the underlying lack of digital connectivity.”

The fund was developed in partnership with the city and stakeholders from private and nonprofit organizations. It is rooted in the city’s Connect 313 program and will collect neighborhood-level data on technology and internet access, build and support neighborhood technology hubs by investing in community centers to grow resources, empower residents to become digital literacy ambassadors in their neighborhoods, and coordinate city-wide fundraising and public advocacy for systemic change in digital inclusion.

“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,” says 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.”

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 United Way will facilitate a board and governance structure in which community, nonprofit, and philanthropic leaders will execute the mission of the fund. This includes the prioritization and funding of Detroit-based nonprofits that will help with the mission.

“I am encouraged that proceeds from the Rocket Mortgage Classic will help create connectivity hubs across the city of Detroit,” says Darienne Hudson, president and CEO of 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.”

Other 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. Another beneficiary is the Greater Palmer Park Community, a collection of seven neighborhoods around Palmer park and the Detroit Golf Club dedicated to the improvement of the area.

Funds will be generated through the AREA 313 Challenge, the tournament’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 golf outing and culinary experience planned for September.

The classic’s AREA 313 Challenge focuses on holes 14, 15, and 16 at the 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 the initiative. An eagle (3) on hole 14 will 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 bring in $5,000. It is estimated that more than $200,000 will be generated by Rocket Mortgage through the effort. Tournament partner Delta Dental has already pledged $50,000 to the campaign.

Those who watch the tournament on television can also donate when a golfer scores a 3, 1, or 3. Donations can be made here or by texting AREA313 to 243725 now through the end of play on Sunday, July 5.

“There are so many ways for our fans to get involved and support the Rocket Mortgage Classic’s Changing the Course initiative,” says Jason Langwell, 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.”

At the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic in 2019, the tournament became the first PGA Tour event ever held in the city of Detroit. The week featured entertainment, food, and social activities on and off the course.

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