Rocket Mortgage Classic setting up 17 more technology hubs all over Detroit

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Rocket Mortgage Classic's goal of ending Detroit's digital divide by 2025 is taking a major step forward, with the announcement Monday morning that 17 additional technology hubs will open in the city by the end of this year.

At least one new hub will open in each of the city's seven City Council districts, and include access to computers, high-speed internet and digital literacy programming.

This latest initiative will bring the total technology hubs to 22 since the "Changing the Course" initiative was launched in 2020, early in the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, Detroit was the least-connected big city in the country. Now, 67.5% of residents are connected, with that number to grow by year's end.

Detroit Golf Club has hosted the Rocket Mortgage Classic since 2019.

“We set a goal two years ago to provide Detroiters vital access to the tools and technology they need to thrive. The opening of these new technology hubs is a huge step toward that goal,” Bob Walters, CEO of Rocket Mortgage, said in a statement. “These additional neighborhood tech hubs will help even more Detroiters connect to education and employment opportunities, unleash their potential and grow community.”

Added Jason Langwell, executive director of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, Detroit's lone PGA Tour stop, which will hold its fourth tournament at Detroit Golf Club from July 28-31: "We are proud that the Rocket Mortgage Classic can continue its critical 'Changing the Course' mission in such an impactful way, moving Detroit one step closer to closing its digital divide. The Rocket Mortgage Classic is about more than golf — it’s about giving back to the city we call home and each resident across Detroit’s neighborhoods.”

The goal is to eventually have hubs located no farther than a 10-minute walk from every Detroiter's home.

The funds for the "Changing the Course" initiative come from the Connect 313 Fund, a collaborative effort of the tournament, the title sponsor, the City of Detroit, Microsoft and the United Way of Southeastern Michigan.

The Rocket Mortgage Classic, which held its inaugural tournament in 2019, has raised more than $5.25 million for local charities through ticket sales (and in 2020, when there were no ticket sales, through sponsors and even some of the golfers), including $3.2 million for "Changing the Course." The "EBB 313" campaign, which was launched in 2020, helped connect more than 82,500 Detroit residents to a federal benefit that provided monthly grants for access to computers and the internet.

Additionally, the City of Detroit soon will be rolling out a digital-literacy curriculum, with courses free for residents, said Joshua Edmonds, the city's director of digital inclusion.

"No matter where you are, there's going to be a standard curriculum," Edmonds said Monday. "That's important," adding that the "Changing the Course" initiative "is having a real impact."

The 17 new technology hubs will be established at: Holy Temple of the Living God in Jesus, Green Door Initiative, MACC Development, Franklin Wright Settlements, Detroit Association of Black Organizations, Matrix Human Services, Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance, Friends of Parkside, Destined for Greatness Community Resource Center, Replay Cafe Detroit, CODE313, Joseph Walker-Williams Community Center, The International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit, Journi House of Tech, Osborn Neighborhood Alliance, Eastside Community Network and Bridging Communities.

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984