Meet Connect 313’s TeQuion Brookins

Meet Connect 313’s TeQuion Brookins

TeQuion Brookins is passionate about setting people up for success. And that’s exactly what she does in her role as the 2022 chair of the Structure & Operations Committee for Connect 313. TeQuion helps develop processes and policies that clarify and streamline Connect 313’s work that aims to end Detroit’s digital divide.

“Our committee is filled with passionate Detroiters who are equally committed to removing barriers and ensuring fidelity to our purpose,” she says. “The work we’ve done has had a visible impact on the operations of Connect 313 and that’s been fulfilling to witness.”

Over the last year, TeQuion has helped establish systems for committees to review community suggestions, created presentation guidelines to ensure suggestions get publicized equitably, and constructed a conflict-of-interest policy to support trust-building and transparency.

This year, her team is focused on reaching even more digitally disconnected Detroiters and she encourages everyone to take part.

A native Detroiter, TeQuion is also the founder and COO of the Minority Freedom Community Fund, a national nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of African Americans through economic support, social programs, and holistic wellness.

After learning about the technological struggles many Detroit students were facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, she knew something needed to be done.

“We were hearing stories of blocks of students sharing one neighbor’s computer to access the then new virtual learning offerings. We heard even more stories of students who just couldn’t attend school for weeks due to not having access to digital devices or internet,” she said.

TeQuion was just beginning to work on developing a solution when she discovered Connect 313 and began serving on early workgroups to help organize the initiative.

“Detroit has always been home for me. I love how real the people are, our style, our culture,” said TeQuion. “I hope people feel empowered to get involved and share their ideas… We want to hear from you about what we can do to end the digital divide.”

To reach TeQuion, email: Tequion@mifreedomcf.org.

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Connect 313 Fuels Fiber Optic Initiative in HOPE Village

Connect 313 Fuels Fiber Optic Initiative in HOPE Village  

Losing internet access for 45 days in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic is something Jeff Jones will never forget. The longtime HOPE Village resident, a husband and father of school-aged children, recounted that harrowing ordeal during a series of community meetings held at Focus:HOPE to discuss Detroit’s digital equity plans. The City of Detroit hosted the meetings. 

“For one or two days, [losing internet access] is not a problem. You can do without your Netflix,” he told the crowd. “But my kids were in school virtually. We lost our internet, and we lost our phone service. Instantly our neighborhood was shunted back to the 19th century. We couldn’t connect to the internet. Our lives were interrupted.” 

 Jones reached out to everyone he could. Day two became week two and his frustration and the community’s hardship grew. Eventually, he connected with Joshua Edmonds, Detroit’s director of digital inclusion, and service was restored. But that 45-day outage is a stark example of why an investment in the city’s internet infrastructure is urgently needed. 

 Beginning this summer, a $10 million pilot project will deliver high-speed fiber optic internet access to every home and business in HOPE Village, located between the Lodge and Davison Freeways, Dexter to the west, and Hamilton to the east. Using federal American Rescue Plan Act funding, the effort will dramatically improve access and reliability. Property owners will be invited to ‘opt in’ and participate. 

 “We hope this new project will reconnect our neighborhood, [and] put us on a path to a bright and prosperous 21st century,” Jones said. 

Connect 313 Leads the Charge 

The idea for an automated open access network originated with a recommendation from Connect 313, a community partnership formed as part of a city-wide, data-driven inclusion strategy. The Rocket Community Fund, the Knight Foundation, and Connect Humanity provided funding for initial research, engineering, and network design. 

“We want every Detroiter to have affordable, reliable and abundant digital access that elevates local communities and accelerates opportunity,” said Edmonds. “Using public funds to invest in an open public infrastructure is something that will spur private investment and drive private competition.” 

How will Detroit’s fiber optic infrastructure work? Multiple providers will have access to the same fiber lines, fostering competition and lowering costs for customers. The city is studying different ways to minimize costs, as well as a sliding scale for residents with lower incomes. 

Open access operates like our airports and roads,” Edmonds explained. “The city provides the infrastructure and internet service providers can use the fiber lines the city installs to deliver service to residents.” 

It is estimated that a fiber optic system will last more than 50 years. As more internet speed is needed, cables will not need to be changed, making this an effective long-term solution. The goal is to eventually install fiber optic lines to homes and businesses across the entire city. 

 “It’s about making sure that every single person is empowered with the devices, with the internet connectivity and the digital literacy training that they deserve, and that they have a right to,” added Laura Granneman, Vice President, Rocket Community Fund.” 

 “There absolutely is a digital divide and gap in this city,” said Angela Calloway, Detroit City Councilwoman for District 2. “Your zip code should not matter whether or not you have access. I am so absolutely proud of the efforts that you are making.” 

Information and updates will be posted on the city’s Digital Inclusion & Equity page. 

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2022 Detroit Means Business Summit

2022 Detroit Means Business Summit

Detroit Means Business  hosted its inaugural small business summit on May 2, 2022.  The event  offered tangible takeaways for strengthening business, including 1:1 Expert Consultations, Live Panels and Workshops.  Connect 313 was proud to participate in this event to support local Detroit businesses utilize digital resources to promote and strengthen their business.  Myka Burley Connect 313’s Community Manager is an active participant in Detroit Means Business as a member of small business x digital divide committee.  Autumn Evans Connect 313’s Operations Director spoke on a panel about pro tips for digital business success, where she also shared details about how the city of Detroit is working to bridge the digital divide.  Qumisha Goss Connect 313’s Digital Literacy Subject Matter Expert also attended the morning session to give 1:1 Consultations on Digital resources.

During our 1:1 Consultations we met with the following Detroit businesses

Some lessons we’ve learned and some tips for small businesses.

  1. Maintaining a digital presence takes time and dedication.  Set a schedule for yourself to regularly post to or update your website or social media presence. Rachel Wood of the Art Loft has a beautifully updated website and strong web presence and she shared with us that she spends a lot of her time keeping her web presence up to date.  There are also digital tools available to assist you with this process. Learn More.
  2. Digital Marketing can be daunting, finding your tribe or a group of like-minded people can help you get a leg up.   The Gospel Music Cafe has successfully marketed their ball room dance classes and poetry events by sharing their events with local facebook groups.
  3. Your Business Acumen, Knowledge and Passion will drive your business. Digital Tools and Technology are just tools to support you. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the choices, and options.  You know your business best, think critically about what you need help with and access your own willingness to learn new technology or systems your self or a hire a professional as needed. Valaise  at Tried and True Financial shared her digital business Card with us, a cool digital tool by HiHello.Hi Hello Business card

Check out https://www.detroitmeansbusiness.org/  for more tools and resources to support your business.

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Tigers Stadium Rocket Mortgage

Rocket and the Detroit Tigers are teaming up to Support Connect 313

Rocket and the Detroit Tigers are teaming up to support Connect 313 bridge the digital divide

To help end the digital divide in Detroit, Rocket Mortgage announced a new promotion in conjunction with its Tigers Partnership. Each time a Tigers player hits a home run off the “Rocket” foul poles, Rocket Mortgage will contribute $5,000 to the Connect 313 Fund. If the home run results in a grand slam, the company will contribute $20,000 to bring digital connectivity and literacy to Detroiters.

Click here to learn more about this partnership.

 

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Rocket Giving Fund directed $700,000 to Connect 313 Fund in support of landmark digital inclusion initiative

Rocket Giving Fund directed $700,000 to Connect 313 Fund in support of landmark digital inclusion initiative

In 2021 The Rocket Mortgage Classic raised 1.35 million dollars. $805,000 of which has been reinvested in Community partners in support of the “Changing the Course” initiative.

$700,000 was directed to the Connect 313 Fund.  The Connect 313 Fund has tirelessly worked to impact the outcome for Detroit residents, ensuring that households become digitally included and that residents are able to access job training, education, telemedicine and other necessities that are the hallmark of a connected and thriving community. These efforts have led to – 67.5 percent – of Detroit households becoming digitally included after only 30 percent enjoyed that status three years ago.

 

Click here to learn more about the Rocket Giving Fund’s contributions to bridging the digital divide..

 

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Rocket Mortgage & Detroit Lions Support Digital Inclusion

Rocket Mortgage & Detroit Lions Support Digital Inclusion

This past football season Rocket Mortgage and the Detroit Lions teamed up to bridge the digital divide for our neighbors here in Detroit with the Rocket Mortgage Red Zone.

Every time the Lions scored points in the Red Zone, Rocket Mortgage and the Detroit Lions donated $1,000 to Connect 313.  Through this Partnership, Connect 313 was awarded $35,000 to help provide internet connectivity and digital access for Detroiters.

Click here to learn more about this initiative.

 

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