Rocket Mortgage ‘Changing the Course’ for Black Detroit Residents at PGA TOUR Event – BlackPressUSA
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Even as Tony Finau, Taylor Pendrit, Cameron Champ and others stormed to the top of the leaderboard, officials once again ensured that the PGA TOUR’s Rocket Mortgage Classic continued its four-year-old tradition of being more just a matter of golf.
As competition in the classic intensified, officials continued to embrace the mission of giving back to Detroit and the city’s predominantly black neighborhoods.
In 2020, the Rocket Mortgage Classic announced the program, “Changing the Course,” to ensure that every Detroit resident would have access to the internet, technology, and digital literacy training within a ten-minute walk of their home. .
Officials pledged the event would become a vehicle for raising awareness highlighting the urgent need for digital inclusion and direct proceeds toward Connect 313, a partnership between the Rocket Mortgage Classic, Rocket Community Fund, Microsoft and United Way for the South- eastern Michigan and the city of Detroit.
Connect 313 seeks investments to increase access to technology, the internet and digital literacy resources.
“‘Changing the Course’ is really how we’ve all come together through this PGA TOUR tournament to drive generational change in Detroit,” said Laura Grannemann, vice president of the Rocket Community Fund and board member of Rocket Community Fund. administration of the Rocket Giving Fund. .
“In everything we do, we try to layer that authentically,” Grannemann said.
“We wanted to drive systemic change, and we started in 2020 right after the pandemic started, when the world was turned upside down. We were sitting here deciding if we should continue with the PGA TOUR tournament.
“The question arose as to whether we were going to be able to impact the Detroit community and whether we should produce the tournament with or without guests.”
At the height of the pandemic, Rocket Mortgage decided to produce the classic without guests, and Grannemann said challenges in the community arose.
“We have seen the true depth of inequality throughout the pandemic,” she said.
And that proved the impetus behind the launch of Changing Course.
“The objective is to reduce the digital divide. To ensure that every resident is digitally connected,” Grannemann argued.
“Going into the pandemic, we only had 40% digital connections, and with Detroit being a largely black city, it became clear that it’s racially stark,” she said. .
“We are pushing an equity agenda on how we drive digital inclusion and that looks like not just distributing digital devices, but building trust with community partners and ensuring residents have a community space where they can go and ask questions about how to use their devices. »
Grannemann pointed out that the Changing Course mission is largely executed by the Connect 313 Fund.
She pointed out that the Fund has worked tirelessly to impact outcomes for Detroit residents, even ensuring that residents can access job training, education, telemedicine and other services. other necessities.
In May, efforts resulted in 67.5% of Detroit households being digitally included after only 30% enjoyed such status three years ago.
“We started distributing devices to every student in Detroit Public School — 51,000 students,” Grannemann said.
“We’ve extended that to older people, especially those with health care provider issues, and so far we’ve distributed 70,000 devices across the city, which has really moved things forward. “
Additionally, Rocket Mortgage has increased the number of partners from 5 last year to 22, enabling officials to raise awareness of the federal Affordability Connectivity Program.
“We are proud to have supported the network to bring approximately 90,000 families to access this grant. So there have been a lot of people accessing those resources,” Grannemann said.
She noted the “real and deep equity issues” faced primarily by black residents in Detroit and across the country. However, Grannemann sees the promise.
“There is hope in this equity issue if you can be intentional and bring together a group of passionate leaders who understand this equity issue. Then we can really drive systemic change here,” she said.
“We have an ‘ism’ that says, ‘you’ll see it when you believe it’, which is the opposite of believing it when I see it. The more I do this work, the more I realize that it’s quite incredible what you can do with a group of enthusiasts.
“The only way to make change happen is to believe you can do it, have the vision and stick to it. It’s not easy, and there are obstacles, big obstacles. It will take a lot time, but we are committed to taking that time and getting things done.”