- Digital Equity and Inclusion Manager to play critical role leading and executing City’s efforts to expand broadband access and adoption
- Two-year grant by Rocket Community Fund, Cleveland Foundation to fund the position, applications for which are now open
CLEVELAND, July 21, 2022 – The Rocket Community Fund, Cleveland Foundation and City of Cleveland today announced the launch of a Digital Equity and Inclusion Manager role with the City. Applications for the position opened this morning, which can be accessed at the City’s website.
The Digital Equity and Inclusion Manager will work closely with the Mayor’s office, Chief Innovation and Technology Officer (CITO) and stakeholders to expand broadband access and adoption, increase enrollment in the federal American Connectivity Program (ACP) and help direct the investment of $20 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds allocated by the Bibb Administration and Cleveland City Council for their robust digital equity agenda.
“Bridging the digital divide in Cleveland, especially for the nearly thirty percent of residents who don’t have internet access of any kind, will level the playing field for our residents and ensure equitable access to opportunities that only the internet and technology can provide,” said Cleveland Mayor Justin M. Bibb. “I am grateful to the Rocket Community Fund and Cleveland Foundation for investing in our residents by supporting a Digital Equity and Inclusion Manager role within City Hall, to have a dedicated professional work alongside my team and our dedicated partners to help make Cleveland a model for digital inclusion.”
The position is underwritten by the Rocket Community Fund and Cleveland Foundation through a joint, $300,000, two-year investment towards salary, benefits and related expenditures for the position. The two organizations previously partnered alongside Cleveland Neighborhood Progress in 2021 for “Neighbor to Neighbor,” a door-to-door canvassing program that will connect residents to technological resources like the ACP, as well as housing stability interventions.
The Rocket Community Fund, the philanthropic partner of Rocket Companies (NYSE: RKT), has recently increased its philanthropic efforts and programming in Cleveland, in addition to its continued management of volunteer engagement and giving for Cleveland-based team members. The organization plans to make additional philanthropic announcements over the coming months.
“In a digital-first world, access to the internet, technology and digital literacy training is just as critical as a roof over your head and food on your table. We are proud to join the Cleveland Foundation in supporting a digital equity and inclusion role within the Mayor’s office,” said Laura Grannemann, Vice President of the Rocket Community Fund. “Our team is grateful for the leadership of Mayor Bibb, City Council, and the numerous community partners who have been working in this space for many years. This position will set the foundation for a more connected Cleveland for generations to come.”
The Rocket Community Fund is also engaged in digital inclusion efforts in Detroit alongside partners in the Connect 313 Fund, which has grown the number of homes considered digitally included (defined as one member in a household having a reliable broadband connection, a working non-smartphone computer/tablet and the knowledge of how to use it) from 40 percent to 67.5 percent in a span of two years, the largest increase in the country in a city previously ranked as the worst connected large city (more than 100,000 households) in America. It hopes for similar success in Cleveland, which ranked second to last in the same 2019 survey.
The Cleveland Foundation works to build community endowment, address needs through grantmaking and provide leadership on key community issues, including digital literacy and racial equity. The Foundation currently plays a leadership role with the Greater Cleveland Digital Equity Coalition, Digital Equity Fund, and metro-wide Digital Navigators program. Through its partnership on Neighbor to Neighbor and other philanthropic initiatives, it is working to understand the ongoing needs for broadband infrastructure, neighborhood tech hubs, digital literacy programming and more. It will work closely with the Digital Equity and Inclusion Manager to ensure that future investments are benefiting the most vulnerable residents, especially residents of color.
“Cleveland’s digital divide means reduced access to education, telemedicine, job training, networking and other critical programs that are necessary to succeed in modern society,” said Leon Wilson, Chief of Digital Innovation and Chief Information Officer for the Cleveland Foundation. “I appreciate Mayor Bibb and the City’s commitment to growing digital equity and inclusion through this role, as well as its comprehensive agenda that will improve the lives of all Clevelanders, especially our residents of color who have been historically and disproportionately impacted by the digital divide.”
The new Digital Equity and Inclusion Manager will work with partners already involved in digital inclusion to connect and streamline efforts, foster relationships with residents and philanthropic organizations, develop a long-term plan and execution strategy, manage community outreach and more.
The ideal candidate will have, among other considerations, at least five years of experience in a public policy or other constituent-building role, proficiency in digital inclusion policy, the ability to build relationships with diverse communities and stakeholders, an understanding of the concepts of institutional and structural racism and bias, a commitment to equity and inclusion, the ability to navigate challenging conversations to build consensus and a passion for the potential and future of Cleveland and all its residents.
In addition to this role, the City of Cleveland also recently announced an RFP to make digital adoption services and a single, affordable broadband plan available to all Cleveland residents. Applications for the RFP are due by August 8, 2022.
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 Cleveland 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.
For more information, visit RocketCommunityFund.org.
About the Cleveland Foundation
Established in 1914, the Cleveland Foundation is the world’s first community foundation – and one of the largest today – with assets of $3.2 billion and 2021 grants of more than $124 million. Through the generosity of donors, the foundation improves the lives of residents of Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties by building community endowment, addressing needs through grantmaking and providing leadership on vital issues. The foundation’s program areas include arts and culture, economic and workforce development, education, environment, leadership development, neighborhoods, and youth, health and human services. For more information, visit ClevelandFoundation.org.
About the City of Cleveland
The City of Cleveland is committed to improving the quality of life for its residents by strengthening neighborhoods, delivering superior services, embracing diversity and making Cleveland a desirable, safe city in which to live, work, play, and do business. For more information on the City of Cleveland, visit www.clevelandohio.gov, or follow @CityofCleveland on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.