Total Health Care Check Presentation

Total Health Care Foundation awards $150,000 to benefit Connect 313

Total Health Care Foundation awards $150,000 to benefit Connect 313

On a crisp, clear afternoon at the Detroit Golf Club, the Total Health Care Foundation awarded the Rocket Giving Fund a $150,000 grant to benefit Connect 313, a collaborative organization that aims to close Detroit’s digital divide. The check presentation took place at the AREA 313 Celebrity Scramble on Tuesday, July 26, part of the activities leading up to the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 40% of Detroit homes were without broadband internet access. In a 2019 survey by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, Detroit ranked as the least connected large city (more than 100,000 households) in the country. Priority Health is committed to taking steps to improve health equity across Michigan by addressing factors including social determinants of health such as lack of technology, digital access, digital literacy and educational training.

“The inability to access the internet has been identified as a ‘super determinant’ of health and can have a significant, long-lasting impact on people’s well-being. The Rocket Community Fund and Connect 313 are helping shine a light on this critical issue that often impacts our most vulnerable citizens,” said Shannon Wilson, executive director of the Total Health Care Foundation and vice president of Population Health & Health Equity at Priority Health. “Along with other dedicated community partners, Priority Health and the Total Health Care Foundation are committed to ensuring that all people have access to the resources they need to live their healthiest and most prosperous lives.”

The Rocket Giving Fund, the nonprofit that administers the Rocket Mortgage Classic, works closely alongside Connect 313 partners Microsoft, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Rocket Mortgage, and City of Detroit, with the goal of ensuring every Detroiter has access to the internet, technology and digital literacy programming within a 10-minute walk of their home.

“On behalf of our dedicated Connect 313 partners, we are grateful for Priority Health’s commitment to Detroit residents through their generous donation in support of critical digital inclusion efforts,” said Laura Grannemann, Rocket Giving Fund board member. “This commitment will help build neighborhood tech hubs, provide residents with technological devices and support digital literacy programming that ensures Detroit residents are equipped with the tools they need to thrive in our digital-first world.”

Formed as part of the merger agreement between Priority Health and Total Health Care, the Total Health Care Foundation has committed to providing millions of dollars in grants over the next few years. To date, more than $8 million in grants have been distributed to organizations throughout Detroit and Southeast Michigan.

Read More

Naimah Wade Helps Cultivate ‘The Genius Within’

Naimah Wade Helps Cultivate ‘The Genius Within’

Naimah Wade enjoys helping people cultivate the genius within themselves, which is why she joined the Connect 313 team.

“What the most impactful people in my world did for me was reduce barriers or eliminate them all together,” Naimah says. “I am a part of this work to try to eliminate that vast hole between those that are engaging digitally and those who are not.”

Naimah is Connect 313’s Director of Research and Learning as well as the management lead for the Special Projects and Shared Resources Committee, which plans projects and initiatives such as neighborhood tech hubs, community ambassadors, and Connect 313 storytelling.

“Connect 313 is yet another example of innovative problem solving in the form of an organizational coalition that is making an incredible impact to move Detroiters from a position of being digitally divided to one of being digitally empowered,” she says.

Supporting digital empowerment is also Naimah’s focus at Wayne State University where she’s the Manager of Digital Inclusion. Naimah says many people don’t use technology because they fear the unknown – and that’s a barrier she’s working to break.

“It’s not that they don’t want to be involved, it’s that they’re afraid of not knowing,” she says. “Give yourself permission to make mistakes… jump in even though you’re nervous about not knowing. You may be wonderfully surprised.”

Wade is currently working on Connect 313’s inaugural research symposium, which will bring academic professionals in the digital research and teaching space to Detroit for the city’s annual Digital Inclusion Week in October.

Naimah is excited for the future of Detroit and its residents and, when asked what she loves most about the city, Naimah quotes Jeanette Pierce from the Detroit Experience Factory: “Detroit is big enough to matter in the world, but small enough that you matter in it.”

“This is what I love about Detroit,” she says. “You can reach out to practically anyone and begin to impart change in the way that you want to see your city evolve and I think that’s really powerful and magical, and I think it’s rare.”

To reach Naimah email

Read More

Gearing Up for Digital Inclusion Week with Nina Yu

Gearing Up for Digital Inclusion Week with Nina Yu

Nina Yu knew she needed to be involved with Connect 313 after taking part in the inaugural Digital Inclusion Week last fall and seeing the direct impact it had on Detroiters.


“One of the reasons I love working with Connect 313 is because we’re working directly with the community,” Nina said. “I want people to know that we greatly value their opinions and suggestions and to be active with us in terms of submitting feedback.”

Nina serves as Connect 313’s vice chair for the Special Projects and Shared Resources Committee. She and her fellow committee members bring stakeholders together and create and coordinate crucial community resources to help bridge the digital divide.

“I’m most excited about the work we’re doing with neighborhood technology hubs,” she said. “Our committee is responsible for reviewing community tech hub applications. These spaces have a profound impact on the accessibility of technology for our community as well as the digital literacy of the residents.”

Seventeen new neighborhood technology hubs were recently announced – including one in each of Detroit’s seven council districts. That brings the total number to 22. The following organizations, and their locations, were selected. They are expected to open by the end of the year.

  • Holy Temple of the Living God in Jesus – 8590 Esper St., Detroit, MI, 48204
  • Green Door Initiative – 7650 Second Ave., Detroit, MI 48202
  • MACC Development – 7900 Mack Ave., Detroit, MI 48214
  • Franklin Wright Settlements – 7375 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202
  • Detroit Association of Black Organizations – 12048 Grand River Ave., Detroit, MI 48204
  • Matrix Human Services – 1400 Woodbridge, Detroit, MI 48207
  • Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance – 19321 W. Chicago, Detroit, MI 48228
  • Friends of Parkside – 5000 Conner St., Detroit, MI 48213
  • Destined for Greatness Community Resource Center – 5555 Conner St., Detroit, MI 48213
  • Replay Cafe Detroit – 6545 St. Antoine, Detroit, MI 48202
  • CODE313 – 1420 Washington Blvd., 5th Floor, Detroit, MI 48226
  • Joseph Walker-Williams Community Center – 8431 Rosa Parks Blvd., Detroit, MI
  • The International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit – 111 E. Kirby St., Detroit, MI 48202
  • Journi House of Tech – 8425 W McNichols Rd. Detroit, MI 48221
  • Osborn Neighborhood Alliance – 13560 E. McNichols St., Detroit, MI 48205
  • Eastside Community Network – 4401 Conner St., Detroit, MI 48215
  • Bridging Communities – 6900 McGraw St., Detroit, MI 48210

Each tech hubs will receive grant support ensuring they are furnished with access to computers, high speed internet, digital literacy programming capabilities and other essential technology tools. They will also provide critical in-person technology support and guidance.

In addition to her work with Connect 313, Nina serves as the Placement Director at NPower Michigan, a workforce development solution for companies seeking IT talent. The organization offers a free 16-week intensive technical training program for young adults from underrepresented communities as well as military veterans and their spouses. 

“In my role, I work directly with our trainees in their career readiness and development as well as with our partner companies that are looking to hire our NPower talent,” Nina said.

This year, Nina’s connection with Connect 313 is coming full circle as she helps to plan Detroit’s Digital Inclusion Week, which will take place the first full week of October.

“I’m extremely excited about this year’s Digital Inclusion Week,” Nina said. “The event will consist of free digital empowerment activities for Detroit residents and business owners…you will definitely want to be a part of it! Involving all committees in this effort will help bring a variety of perspectives and resources.”

You can connect with Nina by emailing

Read More

Exclusive poll finds Detroiters want affordable broadband access and support a public high-speed internet network

Exclusive poll finds Detroiters want affordable broadband access and support a public high-speed internet network

A recent poll of Detroit residents supports the need for a strategic, city-led approach to bridging the digital divide. The survey of 600 Detroit adults, conducted in April and May 2022 by Washington, D.C.-based GQR, reveals 2 out of 3 Detroiters believe the digital divide in Detroit is a major problem, and 83% favor a public high-speed internet network where the city builds a fiber optic infrastructure. Multiple providers will have access to the same fiber infrastructure, fostering competition and lowering costs for customers.

The survey followed the April announcement of Detroit’s plan to bring high-speed internet access to Hope Village on the city’s west side, with a long-term goal of installing a fiber optic network across the city that would make high-speed internet service accessible to every home at a lower cost. Hope Village was selected for an initial $10 million pilot project because the area experienced a prolonged internet outage during the height of the pandemic.

“Detroit is joining more than 600 cities across the country that have already successfully established a municipal network of some kind,” said Joshua Edmonds, Detroit’s Director of Digital Inclusion. “Through a variety of existing funding sources, including the American Rescue Plan Act, we are committed to giving every Detroiter the opportunity to fully benefit from an expanding digital world. This survey demonstrates the need for digital access and desire from our residents who are eager to participate.”

Key Survey Findings Include:

· 20% of Detroit adults do not have a home internet connection, 1 in 4 of whom report that they cannot get broadband service installed at their residence.

· Cost is cited as the reason most don’t have a home internet connection (1 in 2).

· 63% of Detroiters without broadband say they would be likely to choose it if an affordable option were available.

· 1 in 5 parents reported a lack of reliable internet service during the pandemic, which forced their children to complete schoolwork on public Wi-Fi, a cellphone, or not at all.

· 77% of respondents believe the government has a responsibility to expand high speed internet access.

· 78% strongly agree that “expanding broadband access in low income or underserved areas is important to America’s economic future.” Further, 3 in 4 strongly agree this “will help create jobs and grow the economy in those areas.”

GQR conducted the survey on behalf of Connect 313, a community partnership formed as part of a citywide, data-driven digital inclusion strategy. With funding from the Rocket Community Fund, the Knight Foundation, and Connect for Humanities, the city commissioned a study for initial research, engineering, and network design.

“Bringing high-speed internet to every home and business in Detroit is how we continue our city’s renaissance and ensure our top place in the global market,” Edmonds said. “We must take advantage of this opportunity to keep our citizens fully and completely empowered in the 21st century.”

The complete 2022 Detroit Internet Use Survey can be found on Connect 313’s homepage at or by clicking here.

Read More

From DTE to Connect 313, How David Underwood Helps Detroiters

From DTE to Connect 313, How David Underwood Helps Detroiters

“I worked in Detroit, I play in Detroit, I worship and go to church in Detroit,” says David Underwood, chair of Connect 313’s Devices and Connectivity committee. “I care a lot about the city, and I care a lot about its people, and I want to make a difference.”

David Underwood has spent nearly four decades in Detroit. For 38 of those years, he worked with DTE Energy, most recently as a principal account manager. He retired in 2021, but these days he’s busier than ever. With Connect 313, David is focused on activating the community and making sure residents have the resources and devices they need to access the internet.

“I consider myself a change agent and a champion for the underdog. I’m trying to make a difference out here,” he says. “Those who don’t have access to tech are finding themselves at a risk and that needs to change.”

Since starting with Connect 313, David has helped to coordinate computer giveaways and has worked to connect people with subsidized internet access funded by the federal government. However, he says there’s still work to be done.

“We’re looking forward to building an open-access fiber optic infrastructure in Detroit, beginning in the Hope Village neighborhood,” he says. “It’s also crucial that we get more community engagement and get more residents involved.”

David is working to do just that by connecting with corporate partners and community-based organizations, spreading the word on billboards, and creating campaigns that people without internet access will see.

In addition to his work with Connect 313, David is the managing director for Detroit Community Care Network, a position he’s held since 2017. The faith-based organization serves people and families by connecting them to programs, services, resources, and information.

In so many ways, he is proud to be a champion for the underserved in the Motor City.

To reach David, email

Read More

Kaleena Louis’s Detroit Legacy

Kaleena Louis’s Detroit Legacy

Kaleena Louis proudly calls herself a ‘legacy Detroiter.’ As Connect 313’s Policy, Advocacy, and Ecosystem vice chair, she supports the city where she was born and raised by connecting people to digital resources.

“A big portion is connecting with the community where they are. You can’t assume that people know what’s out there,” Kaleena says. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much is out there today and how accessible things are, people just don’t know.”

One way Kaleena is helping Connect 313 spread the message is through Digital Inclusion Week, which will be held Oct. 3 – 7, 2022. The annual event promotes digital equity in Detroit by raising awareness about home internet access, devices, technology training programs, and many important topics and issues.

“Last year was my first year with Digital Inclusion Week,” she recalls. “This year, we’re looking forward to putting on an amazing week for the city that will be more inclusive and have more in-person engagement, while remaining COVID safe.”

In addition to her work with Connect 313, Kaleena serves as program director for NPower where she helps launch digital careers for underrepresented and underserved youth, military veterans, and their spouses.

According to NPower, today more than 50% of all jobs require some degree of technology and skill. Kaleena says that number will increase to more than 70% by 2030.

“The jobs are quickly growing, but there are certain people in our community who aren’t necessarily ready because of the barriers they face. Connect 313 navigates those barriers, and bridges the gap to help people overcome those barriers,” she says. “If people can’t afford internet, we have plans for that. There are parts of the city where fiber is being infused. People don’t know what they don’t know, and we need to be that voice to spread the word.”

As a lifelong Detroiter, Kaleena feels a special connection to the Motor City and wants to do everything she can to advocate for technology access and education, especially for Detroit youth.

“It means something to me to know that for my children and their peers, if they want to get into tech, they don’t have to go to Silicon Valley. They can get the skills and training and jobs right here in Detroit,” Kaleena says.


You can reach Kaleena by emailing

Read More

Rescue Plan Funding: Eight states and localities committing Fiscal Recovery Funds to improve access to reliable, high-speed internet

Rescue Plan Funding: Eight states and localities committing Fiscal Recovery Funds to improve access to reliable, high-speed internet:

In a Press Release issued by the Biden-Harris Administration  announced over $25 Billion in American Rescue Plan Funding to Help Ensure Every American Has Access to High Speed, Affordable Internet.  The City of Detroit is listed as an example of how this work is successfully being carried out.

“Detroit, Michigan will begin construction this summer, using $10 million in Fiscal Recovery Funds, to pilot a fiber-to-the-home connectivity project to approximately 2,000 homes in the Hope Village neighborhood with affordable 1 Gig service.”

To learn more about Detroit’s Fiber to home project checkout our blog post about why this work is important and the City of Detroit’s Digital Inclusion & Equity Page for updates.

You can read the full fact sheet detailing the funding for the American Rescue Plan Funding here.

Read More

Shadora Ford Asks, “What is the Barrier?”

Shadora Ford Asks, “What is the Barrier?”

Shadora Ford wants to help families not just survive but thrive. As Connect 313’s Special Projects and Shared Resources chair she provides education, training, and resources to connect the public with essential technology to help bridge the digital divide.

In 2010, at just 19 years old, Shadora founded Destined for Greatness, a Detroit-based organization that educates, encourages, and empowers young women to become strong leaders. To date, Destined for Greatness has helped more than 5,000 young women and served more than 10,000 families through mentoring, job training, food drives, and more.

“In order for a house to stand you have to fix the foundation,” said Shadora. “We’re helping fulfill the destiny of households, not just women, but all families and people.”

A few years ago, Shadora began conducting research studies to learn more about Detroit’s digital divide. “Is the barrier the devices, the connectivity, or is it the literacy of the individual?” she said. “Research shows it’s a mix.”

Which meant the approach had to be multifaceted. She’s teaching students Microsoft Office, showing seniors how to utilize technology to take part in telehealth appointments and send emails, and connecting veterans to digital resources.

“Some people say they don’t want to use digital technology because it’s too much, but that’s fear. I want people to get over the fear by teaching them and finding creative ways to do that,” said Shadora.

Looking ahead, Shadora wants to see all seven districts thrive with digital literacy programs. She plans to expand her research and outreach to ensure Detroiters know tech assistance is available.

“Being here for the past 30 years and loving the community made me want to be an ambassador,” said Shadora. “I want Detroiters to love Detroit and take care of Detroit, love the place they live and be connected.”

To reach Shadora, email or call 313-414-3680.

Read More

Connect 313’s Jamie Harris has 3 Main Goals

Connect 313’s Jamie Harris has 3 Main Goals

Connect 313’s co-chair of Digital Literacy & Skilling, Jamie Harris, has spent more than a decade connecting the community to career opportunities, including many in the tech industry. Her three main goals are to train, empower, and employ. Jamie is the founder and CEO of DSDT a Detroit School for Digital Technology. The state licensed technology trade school offers nationally accredited programs designed for the world of entertainment, media, and technology.

“It’s about believing in your community,” she says. “When I started this school people thought I was crazy.”

She has certainly proven them wrong. Her hard work and experience paired perfectly with Connect 313’s mission to bridge the digital divide.

“We’re all really dedicated to the mission of serving our community,” she says. “If we see a need, we get on it and make it happen. It’s not for the faint of heart and it takes a team with passion.”

Last year, Jamie served as Connect 313’s chair for Special Projects and Shared Resources where she helped with the budget and spearheaded strategies that introduced construction workers to digital architecture.

“You can drive around anywhere and see building after building going up,” Jamie says. “We’re innovative, there are so many ideas and city initiatives, as well as new entrepreneurs, black owned businesses, and women-owned businesses that are popping up everywhere around here.”

As the demand for information technology grows, Jamie and the Connect 313 team are working to advance digital equity by creating neighborhood tech hubs Detroiters can use to access computers and the internet.

“There is such a huge demand and the greater we evolve as a community and as a city, the greater the community thrives,” she explains.

Jamie is proud to call Detroit home and eager to continue her work connecting community members to resources, education, and support that will set them up for success in the ever-evolving digital world.

“Detroit has been looked at as an underperformer in the past and it’s great to see Detroit expanding and innovating,” she says. “Our city is now back on the map. We’re

all stronger together. It’s rewarding to see what we’ve done and to be a part of that growth and that history.”

To reach Jamie, email

Read More

How Lashawna Manigault Works With Connect 313

How Lashawna Manigault Works With Connect 313

Lashawna Manigault knows firsthand how difficult it is to own a small business and how crucial internet access and connectivity can be. That’s why she’s supporting small business owners across Detroit as Connect 313’s chair of Policy, Advocacy & Ecosystem.

“If COVID showed us nothing else, it’s that people need to be on the cutting edge of technology. Businesses have had to pivot their business models, taking COVID into consideration,” she says.

During the pandemic, Lashawna discovered the digital technology learning curve was leaving numerous small business owners behind. Without computers and internet access, many were missing out on grants and financial opportunities.

“Businesses, like hair salons and barbers, have had to put COVID safety plans in place and do new things, like create new platforms for calendars and scheduling, connect through Zoom, and utilize online platforms to connect to the resources available to help their businesses stay upright,” she says.

Lashawna learned about Connect 313 while on a digital divide committee. She knew Connect 313’s mission would pair perfectly with the work she’d been doing as the Director of Small Business Retention & Expansion for the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.

“Being able to bridge the work I’ve done with one committee and make sure small businesses are a focus and initiative within Connect 313 is a very important objective of mine,” she says.

Lashawna is currently working hard behind the scenes, planning for Detroit’s annual Digital Inclusion Week, which will be held the first full week of October. The multi-day event educates and connects Detroiters by offering tools and platforms for small businesses, digital literacy training for seniors, hands-on activities for students, and more.

As a native Detroiter, Lashawna is proud to help empower small businesses in our community by advocating for policy change, creating digital resources, and ensuring residents have affordable, reliable internet access.

“It’s a privilege and it keeps me going to be able to help people be their best selves and do their best work in this city,” Lashawna says. “It’s a collaborative effort.”

To reach Lashawna, email

Read More