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• 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic Champion and media take golf shots at Detroit Golf Club to raise money for “EBB 313” campaign
• Connect 313 added Board of Directors, key positions and began neighborhood programming
DETROIT, June 7, 2021 – Connect 313 today announced a citywide campaign to streamline access to the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB), a federal program that subsidizes the cost of internet and technological devices for eligible households. The “EBB 313” campaign, which kicked-off at the PGA TOUR’s Rocket Mortgage Classic Media Day, will go live at 3pm today.
The EBB provides a monthly $50 discount for internet access and a one-time $100 subsidy for a laptop, desktop computer or tablet for eligible residents. More than 250,000 Detroit residents – nearly 40% of all Detroit households – are expected to qualify for the program. However, the application process requires internet at nearly every step, creating a barrier for those most in need of support.
EBB 313 is operated by Connect 313 – a collaborative organization founded by the City of Detroit, Rocket Mortgage Classic, Rocket Companies, Microsoft and United Way of Southeastern Michigan that aims to close Detroit’s digital divide. It is the only campaign of its kind in the country that has streamlined and systemized access for the federal benefit.
Through the campaign, Rocket Companies (NYSE: RKT) subsidiary Rock Connections will operate a central call center that will help Detroit residents understand their options under the EBB program. Residents will learn how to determine their eligibility and how to apply either online through the federal EBB portal or with the support of a local nonprofit. Rock Connections will also help residents identify the best internet service provider for their situation and direct callers to provider partners that will work with residents to secure a device or internet access.
“The Rocket Mortgage Classic is all about building an exciting event in our home city that simultaneously creates opportunity for Detroit residents,” said Jay Farner, CEO of Rocket Mortgage and Rocket Companies, and Chairman of the Connect 313 Fund. “Internet and technology are critical to everyday life, whether you are talking about education, employment, healthcare or even building connections and staying in touch with loved ones. The EBB is one more important step as we all fight to bridge the digital divide.”
Today, Rocket Mortgage golf ambassador, reigning champion of the Rocket Mortgage Classic and PGA TOUR superstar Bryson DeChambeau drew attention to the Rocket Mortgage Classic’s mission of ensuring all Detroit residents are fully equipped with devices, internet and digital literacy. DeChambeau, Farner and a number of local media members stepped into the tee box at Detroit Golf Club’s 15th hole.
The group took turns hitting shots at the green, which was outfitted with the stylistic “Rocket O.” Each shot within that target resulted in a $1,000 donation to human-I-T, a Connect 313 nonprofit partner that repairs and refurbishes old electronics to sell at a subsidized cost to communities with limited access to technology. This opportunity will aid in sourcing 20,000 devices, each costing less than $50 for qualifying Detroiters when the EBB’s one-time $100 subsidy is applied.
While only three golf shots made it in the target, Rocket Companies upped the ante and donated a total of $5,000 to the program.
“The Rocket Mortgage Classic is more than a premier PGA TOUR event – it is a powerful force for good that will allow us to bridge the digital divide in Detroit once and for all,” said Jason Langwell, Executive Director of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. “Our Changing the Course initiative aims to ensure every Detroiter has access to the internet, technology and digital literacy programming within a 10-minute walk of their home, and we’re grateful to Bryson DeChambeau for helping us move closer to that goal.”
The City of Detroit Office of Digital Inclusion, which helps oversee the citywide, data-driven digital inclusion strategy, was instrumental in sourcing the partners and launching the overall campaign.
“We are proud of EBB 313, which will directly connect Detroiters with opportunity – the opportunity to access telemedicine, job training, education and so much more,” said Joshua Edmonds, the City of Detroit Director of Digital Inclusion. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take a giant leap forward in making Detroit a national model for digital inclusion, and we encourage Detroiters to act quickly and receive vital access to the internet and technology.”
Connect 313 is working to identify local nonprofits located throughout Detroit to support residents as they complete the application on the EBB portal. The initial organizations partnering for the campaign launch include Brilliant Detroit – Cody Rouge, Brilliant Detroit – Southwest Detroit, Mission City: City Covenant Church, Brilliant Detroit – Morningside, Friends of Parkside, Brilliant Detroit – Dexter-Linwood and Franklin-Write Settlements Inc. Residents should contact the nonprofit nearest them for assistance.
Provider partners for internet access currently include Access by AT&T, Internet Essential from Comcast, Detroit Community Technology Project, T-Mobile, Verizon and human-I-T. The EBB will continue operation until funding expires, so it is critical that Detroiters act quickly by calling (313)241-7618.
Connect 313 Updates
In 2020, the Rocket Mortgage Classic announced its multi-year Changing the Course initiative in conjunction with title sponsor Rocket Mortgage. During the first year of this initiative, the Rocket Mortgage Classic was able to invest $2.4 million to launch the Connect 313 Fund, which drives digital inclusion across Detroit.
Connect 313, whose fiduciary is the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, has since established a board of directors, held community elections to ensure that community voices are represented in key positions of leadership, launched its community ambassador program, opened four neighborhood technology hubs and distributed nearly 10,000 devices to Detroiters across the city.
“The past year has highlighted the continued need for connectivity and digital literacy, and we are proud to continue to scale our efforts to impact the lives of Detroiters for the better,” said Dr. Darienne Hudson, President and CEO of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “We have assembled a community of stakeholders and supporters who share our passion for leveling the playing field and providing equitable access to opportunity.”
The Connect 313 Board of Directors was launched in March, with Farner serving as Board Chair and Mayor Mike Duggan serving as Vice Chair. Members of the board include Heidi Coates (Wayne State University), Brad Coulter (Matrix Human Services), Craig D’Agostini (Comcast), Eric Dietz (Huntington Bank), Lynette Dowler (DTE Energy), Dr. Carladenise Edwards (Henry Ford Health Systems), Dr. Darienne Hudson (United Way of Southeastern Michigan), Faye Nelson (W.K Kellogg Foundation), Kendra Quinlan (Accenture), Arn Tellem (Detroit Pistons), Nate Wallace (Knight Foundation), Brian Willson (Microsoft) and Lori Wingerter (General Motors), Margrit Allen (The Urban Alliance) and TeQuion Brookins (McGregor Fund) serve as community-elected board members.
In April, Connect 313 launched its first four neighborhood technology hubs in collaboration with Brilliant Detroit, located at Cody Rouge, Southwest, Morningside and Dexter-Linwood. At these technology hubs, residents have access to the devices, technology and digital literacy training they need for online education, telemedicine, employment resources and more.
Another strategic tactic employed by Connect 313 is its Community Ambassadors program. These Ambassadors across Detroit are local, trusted experts helping neighbors connect with the resources they need and are housed within trusted community partners. The Community Ambassadors will work closely with Connect 313 to elevate questions and concerns from residents, including attending meeting of neighborhood block clubs, City Council and other local events to represent the Connect 313 work, and walk residents through the process of signing up for resources such as subsidized internet plans.
The four initial partners housing Community Ambassadors will include Grandmont Rosedale Community Development Corporation, Bridging Communities, MACC Development and Eastside Community Network.
The Connect 313 Fund continues to focus on its four strategic pillars:
The third-annual Rocket Mortgage Classic will be held June 28-July 4, as the PGA TOUR’s only tournament ever within the city of Detroit returns to the historic Detroit Golf Club. Net proceeds of the tournament will continue to be directed to the Connect 313 Fund via the Rocket Giving Fund, the 501(c)(3) that manages the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
For more materials related to EBB 313, see the media kit here.
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).
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