Rocket Mortgage Classic hopes to take aim at digital divide in Detroit

The Rocket Mortgage Classic is six weeks away from teeing off, but members of Dan Gilbert's team at the Quicken Loans Community Fund are having a conversation now that's a long shot from golf. It's about opportunity.  

"We cannot afford to let our students fall behind during this time. And so everything that we are doing in the moment is virtual and we know that the world is going to be different when COVID-19 starts to subside, we're going to be a more virtual society and that means we have to make sure everyone has the access to the tools they need to navigate that," said Laura Grannemann. 

A new reality means internet connection is par for the course for everything, socializing on Zoom, job interviews, research and, yes, school work. It's all online. But there's a problem.  

"The reality is that 30% of our community does not currently have access to internet in their homes. We know it's a problem now - it's certainly a problem during COVID-19 - but it is been a problem for a long time," Grannemann said.

Last year in the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic they made $1.2 million for local nonprofits. This year the money will help connect technology to communities that need it. It's a passion for the Quicken Loans team and they've been doing that for years. 

"The Connected Futures initiative that has helped get access to tablets and data plans to every DPSCD student. We have helped to bring businesses online through the Rebrand Cities and many other things. But the reality is that we need a broader city-wide strategy."

MORE COVERAGE: Business, nonprofit leaders investing $23M to get tablets, internet access to Detroit students

Lawmakers are also trying to make an effort to bridge the digital divide. The Heroes Act, which is stuck in the Senate right now in Washington, has money earmarked specifically for communities lacking internet connections. 

That bill right now is stalled so the golf tournament will be critical for Detroit.