Detroit Parks Coalition, City of Detroit and Connect 313 Announce Project to Provide Free Wifi in Five City Parks
Community partnership aims to expand internet accessibility and bridge digital divide for Detroiters.
DETROIT, JUNE 1, 2023 –The Detroit Parks Coalition (DPC), along with the City of Detroit and Connect 313, today announced a pilot project to install free public Wi-Fi networks across five Detroit parks.
The pilot, which will install public Wi-Fi in Bradby, Chandler, Clark, McDuffy and Palmer Parks, is funded through $265,000 in grants from the Detroit Pistons, Rocket Community Fund and Knight Foundation. Funding includes infrastructure installation and five years of service, provided by Cronus Internet.
“Detroit’s parks are our common grounds,” said Sigal Hemy, executive director of DPC. “We are thrilled that our neighborhood parks will help bridge the digital divide and elevate quality of life for all Detroiters.”
“This is a fantastic opportunity to connect technology with being outdoors,” Alex Allen, DPC’s board president added. “Visitors can enhance their park experience by researching what they find in nature, or streaming music or their favorite show.”
The Park Wi-Fi initiative is a project of Connect 313, a collaborative established to coordinate and support city-wide digital inclusion efforts with a data-driven, community-based philosophy.
“We are proud to be part of a partnership that has so significantly increased digital inclusion in Detroit – taking the city from one of the least digitally connected in 2019 to now being a model of what is possible,” said Laura Grannemann, Chair of the Connect 313 Board and Executive Director of the Rocket Community Fund. “It is fitting that Palmer Park, the home of the Rocket Mortgage Classic where Connect 313 was first established in 2020, is the first park to install this vital technology. Increasing access to Wi-Fi in public spaces like these five parks is a major part of the path forward to a more connected and equitable city.”
“We are thrilled to continue our work with the Detroit Parks Coalition and Connect 313 by assisting with the funding of the city’s Wi-Fi pilot program to help close the technology gap in Detroit,” said Erika Swilley, Detroit Pistons Vice President of Community & Social Responsibility. “Through the Pistons’ ‘Basketball for All’ program, the team has made a concerted effort to impact the city’s parks by renovating 60 basketball courts, including playing surfaces at Bradby and Palmer Parks. We view the Park Wi-Fi Pilot program as an extension of our court renovation project and an opportunity to continue to make an impact on the city’s parks.”
“Free wifi in public spaces isn’t just an infrastructure upgrade – internet availability and access is critical to being an informed and engaged citizen. We are proud to support this project to increase access for Detroiters, one park at a time,” said Kelly Jin, Knight Foundation Vice President of Community and National Initiatives.
The City of Detroit has also been a long-term partner on the project.
“The City of Detroit Parks & Rec Division is grateful for the collaborative partnership with the Detroit Parks Coalition, community partners and strategic funders to expand Wi-Fi access in our parks and help bridge the digital divide for Detroiters,” said Dara O’Byrne, City of Detroit Chief Parks Planner.
“The Office of Digital Equity & Inclusion is thrilled to be joining forces with the Detroit Parks Coalition as part of our ‘Connecting Detroit’ initiative,” said Christine Burkette, Detroit’s Digital Equity Director. “This partnership is definitely on track to getting us closer to our goal of closing the digital divide by 98 percent in the next five years.”
Wi-Fi construction will begin immediately and continue through Fall of 2023. Grant funding will also support charging stations in each of the selected parks.
DPC and the City of Detroit engaged Adopt a Park partners in the siting and design of the Wi-Fi plans. Community partners include:
- Bradby Park – Stafford House
- Clark Park – Clark Park Coalition
- Chandler Park – Chandler Park Conservancy
- McDuffy Park – North End Christian CDC
- Palmer Park – People for Palmer Park
Community partners will also have the opportunity to raise sponsorship funds for the Wi-Fi splash page, further supporting park programming and activations.
About the Detroit Parks Coalition
The Detroit Parks Coalition (DPC) is an alliance of organizations supporting healthy, equitable, and vibrant parks and public spaces. We are a diverse group of park leaders and community members who have come together to expand resources for Detroit parks. For more information, visit DetroitParksCoalition.com.
About the Connect 313 Fund
The Connect 313 Fund was formed in 2020 to coordinate and support city-wide digital inclusion efforts with a data-driven, community-based philosophy. It was launched at the Rocket Mortgage Classic PGA TOUR event as part of the tournament’s “Changing the Course” initiative. Through the contributions of Rocket Mortgage and other tournament partners, the Connect 313 Fund was developed to support the strategy of Connect 313. The Connect 313 Fund is administered by United Way for Southeastern Michigan. For more information visit https://connect313.org.
About the Rocket Community Fund
The Rocket Community Fund aims to simplify complex and inequitable systems to ensure that every American has access to stable, healthy housing. It also invests in people and practices that provide meaningful opportunities for education and employment. Through its For-More-Than-Profit model, the Rocket Community Fund recognizes that business and community are inextricably linked, and it purposefully harnesses team member talent, technology, policy advocacy and philanthropic resources to invest in comprehensive community development in Detroit and across the country. Alongside financial investments, the Rocket Community Fund has organized Rocket Companies, Bedrock and other affiliated team members to provide more than 865,000 volunteer hours nationwide, including 430,000 in Detroit. For more information, visit RocketCommunityFund.org.