The COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed how we interact with each other and our communities. Everything looks different. Nonprofits and community organizations are thinking outside the box when it comes to outreach and carving out new opportunities for residents in our communities, and the Quicken Loans Community Fund is no exception.
The global crisis has created a need to redirect our focus on our strategic investments. A prime example of this is the Connected Futures Initiative, which aims to bridge the digital divide via internet connected devices and digital literacy resources to 51,000 Detroit Public School Community District students and families. Most recently, the impact of the pandemic has driven us to pivot in our approach to our summer youth employment strategy. The Connected Futures Initiative has served as a driving force to support our new strategy, equipping thousands of Detroiters with the tools to pursue summer enrichment, earning, and learning opportunities.
“The pandemic has certainly shined a bright light on systemic roadblocks that now, more than ever, could prevent under-resourced communities from accessing quality education and employment opportunities” said Jayme Danzig, Director of Education and Employment at the Quicken Loans Community Fund. “The nature of learning and working is rapidly transforming, with an increased emphasis on digital proficiency and higher-order thinking skills. As a result, we’ve had to get creative with our strategy and many of these opportunities will now be digital.”
The Quicken Loans Community Fund is moving forward to ensure Detroit students will continue to receive opportunities for employment and the tools they need to explore career pathways and develop professional skills. We’ve strengthened our partnership with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent (GDYT), Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s summer youth employment program that’s focused on creating pathways for education and employment opportunities for Detroit students.
One of our most innovative youth employment opportunities is the result of a dual partnership with Microsoft and Wayne State University. “Tech-On Ramps,” provides a corporate-guided virtual learning and work experience targeting DPSCD students enrolled in a tech-focused career academy or interested in a technology field. Rock FOC technology team members will be facilitating remote workshops through skilled volunteer opportunities they can take advantage of through our volunteer platform. The student interns participating in this 6-week program have the opportunity to solve for a Quicken Loans tech-focused business challenge and earn a Microsoft credential while working on a capstone technology project. This partnership with Microsoft empowers students by building technology skills that lead to employment.
Virtual and Onsite Training in a Variety of Fields
We are partnering with DTE to support 88 students who will be utilizing the EDSI job training platform. This workforce development platform provides students with the opportunity to explore career pathways and learn relevant skills and concepts in several fields, including IT, construction, and customer service. Upon completion of the program the participants will earn recognized and stackable credentials to better equip them in entering their respective fields.
Since nearly 5,000 Detroit students will have devices as a result of the Connected Futures initiative, many of them may be able to participate in virtual job shadowing. As part of the partnership with GDYT, The Quicken Loans Community Fund is supporting funding for the technology platform VirtualJobShadtw.com, a self-directed virtual job shadow platform that will be monitored by GDYT staff. This platform is open to high school students age 14-16, focused on career awareness and exploration, and students who complete their job shadowing will receive a stipend in lieu of the payment they would have received through an in-person internship.
Full-Time Remote Internships at the Rock FOC
In addition to our partnership with GDYT, we will continue supporting several full-time remote interns who will work at the Rock Family of Companies. This includes our continued work with 30 Urban Alliance interns who are deployed across several different companies withing the Rock Family of Companies, including Quicken Loans, Bedrock, Rock Connections and others.
Finally, thousands of eligible students participating in these programs will be receiving internet and a digital device in order to complete their projects and internships.
Perhaps the most important point to consider with regards to our revamped youth employment strategy is the need for digital inclusion to create financial stability and equity for Detroit students and their families. This is why the Connected Futures initiative is so important; it has generated tremendous momentum for stakeholders to come together and address the greater digital inequities that prevent many Detroiters from accessing health care, job training, and attaining financial independence.
An extension of this initiative will also be playing out at this year’s Rocket Mortgage Classic. Aptly named “Changing the Course,” the focus of the tournament is based upon bringing digital literacy, resources and internet connectivity to all Detroit residents within the next five years.
Our summer youth employment strategy is yet another step towards bringing new opportunities and equity to Detroit residents by bridging this digital divide.