DETROIT – The Rocket Mortgage Classic, in partnership with title sponsor Rocket Mortgage, today announced it generated more than $2.7 million for nonprofits from proceeds raised by Detroit’s second-annual PGA TOUR event. More than $2.4 million will be invested through the event’s “Changing the Course” initiative, which aims to bridge the digital divide in Detroit.
Funds are disbursed by the Rocket Giving Fund, the 501(c)(3) that manages the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
The Rocket Mortgage Classic launched Changing the Course earlier this year with a mission to bridge the digital divide for all Detroit residents through equitable, data-driven investments in access to technology, internet and digital literacy. Detroit is the least connected major city in the country, and in light of COVID-19, it is clear now more than ever that access to online learning, employment, health and connectivity is a critical component of a resilient, vibrant community. Changing the Course is a multi-year initiative that is committed to holistic, sustainable access to internet, technology and digital resources for every Detroiter within a ten-minute walk of their home.
Charitable proceeds raised from the 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic totaled $2,716,770. Last year, the event donated $1.2 million to its primary beneficiaries, with more than $1.1 million directed to nonprofits based in the city of Detroit.
Donations were made by the Rocket Giving Fund to the following organizations in support of its Changing the Course initiative:
- $2.1 million to the Connect 313 Fund, developed by the Rocket Mortgage Classic in partnership with the City of Detroit and the United Way for Southeastern Michigan with engagement from community, philanthropic and business stakeholders. The Connect 313 Fund is rooted in the City’s digital inclusion strategy and is a coordinating mechanism for all digital inclusion stakeholders driving collectively toward the singular vision of bridging the digital divide. In addition to coordinating a city-wide, data-driven digital inclusion strategy, the Connect 313 Fund will make investments into Detroit-based nonprofit partners to increase access to technology, internet and digital literacy resources.
- $344,450 to Children’s Foundation, which supports pediatric research, education, community benefit programs and other initiatives that improve the health of children in Michigan. Children’s Foundation is also fiduciary for First Tee Greater Detroit, which impacts the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf. This partnership will provide youth-centric nonprofits the resources they need to bridge the digital divide within their programming, including the following allocations from this investment:
- $165,000 to Midnight Golf, which helps under-served young people transition from high school to college and into a professional career.
- $100,000 to Detroit Police Athletic League (Detroit PAL), a Rocket Mortgage partner that builds character in young people through athletic, academic, and leadership development programs.
“This year’s Rocket Mortgage Classic is a testament to the boldness and ingenuity of the entire team, who understood the unique opportunity we had to use this event to bridge the digital divide in Detroit,” said Jay Farner, Chairman of the Rocket Giving Fund and CEO of Rocket Companies (NYSE: RKT). “We are committed to Changing the Course and working tirelessly to deploy resources and foster greater equity and digital access for Detroit residents and families.”
The Rocket Giving Fund also made the following disbursements:
- $150,000 to the 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
- $122,320 to the Birdies for Charity program, which supported 74 verified nonprofit organizations and allowed them to use the Rocket Mortgage Classic as a free vehicle to raise awareness of their organizations and funds to support their missions.
“Like all other PGA TOUR events, our overriding mission is for the Rocket Mortgage Classic to serve as a vehicle to support the nonprofits that do such amazing work in our community, and it has been amazing to see so many people come together this year in particular to get behind such a great cause,” said Jason Langwell, Executive Director of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. “We will continue to work every day toward Changing the Course and addressing this great need right here in Detroit.”
Connect 313 Fund
The Connect 313 Fund is a community-driven digital inclusion strategy focused on four strategic pillars:
- Collecting accurate neighborhood-level data on technology, internet access and digital resources.
- Building and supporting neighborhood technology hubs by investing in trusted community centers to grow technology resources.
- Empowering and financially supporting residents across the city to become digital literacy ambassadors in their respective neighborhoods.
- Coordinating city-wide fundraising and public advocacy for systemic change in digital inclusion.
The Connect 313 Fund has already engaged local nonprofit Data Driven Detroit and national data analytics firm Civis to do a neighborhood-by-neighborhood assessment across the city to understand gaps in access to the internet and technology. This analysis, slated to be completed in advance of the 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic, will inform the locations, infrastructure and service offering of neighborhood technology hubs throughout Detroit.
Connect 313 aims to create a network of technology hubs by supporting existing safe, trusted spaces across the city to grow and scale their access to technology and digital resources. One example of this model is Brilliant Detroit, which provides programming and support year-round to families with children ages 0-8 in eight neighborhoods across Detroit.
Digital literacy ambassadors will be hired in each of Detroit’s seven council districts over the coming months. These ambassadors will hold ongoing community meetings, perform needed outreach, and work to connect residents to current and future technological resources available through Connect 313 and community partners.
“The Connect 313 Fund will allow Detroit to transition from a city burdened with longstanding digital inequity to becoming the national model for providing technology and opportunity to all residents,” said Joshua Edmonds, the Director of Digital Inclusion for the City of Detroit who oversees Connect 313. “The Rocket Mortgage Classic’s Changing the Course initiative will create a brighter future for every Detroiter by ensuring everyone has a chance to take advantage of the infinite opportunities technology provides.”
Administered by the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, the Connect 313 Fund will raise additional funding and continuously solicit the feedback of over 100 stakeholders and digital practitioners across the city every month to identify the best, most impactful ways to steer funds and bridge the digital divide.
“Due to the generous support of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, and the passion of Detroiters to take on systemic issues by addressing the source, I am confident the Connect 313 Fund will make technology more accessible to children, families and communities,” said Dr. Darienne Hudson, president and CEO of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “We know the community will answer the call to join us in Changing the Course, and that this unprecedented collaboration will redefine what can be achieved by public/private partnerships.”
2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic
During the 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic, $1 million was raised to support Changing the Course through a special charity exhibition match hosted by two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, who was joined by Jason Day, Harold Varner III and Wesley Bryan. This included a $50,000 donation by Delta Dental, and a $40,000 donation by Detroit-based DTE. The $1 million includes a $500,000 match by title sponsor Rocket Mortgage.
The AREA 313 Challenge, where donations from title sponsor Rocket Mortgage were triggered by players who made an eagle, ace or birdie (3-1-3) on holes 14, 15 and 16, raised an additional $385,000 thanks to the spectacular play throughout the tournament.
Additional donations toward the Rocket Giving Fund’s total nonprofit contribution of $2,716,770 were generated from the net proceeds of the 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic, which was held without fans due to COVID-19 restrictions but developed numerous new and creative methods of revenue generation, all with the goal of maximizing charitable contributions.
After Nate Lashley cruised to a six-stroke victory and his first career PGA TOUR win at the 2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic, Bryson DeChambeau muscled his way to 23-under-par to win the 2020 tournament. Ranked 10th in the world entering the event, DeChambeau earned his sixth career TOUR win at the age of 26, leading the field with an average driving distance of 350.6 yards.
DeChambeau subsequently won the U.S. Open, held September 17-20. His seventh career TOUR win was also his first major title. Matthew Wolff, who finished second at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, also finished second in the U.S. Open.
The 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic was one of the PGA TOUR’s “Return to Golf” events that was played without fans following a nearly three-month hiatus due to the ongoing pandemic.