2023 Annual Report

Community Feature

Rocket Community Fund

Community Feature - Rocket Community Fund

Partnering to Create Meaningful, Lasting Change

The Rocket Community Fund is the philanthropic partner of Rocket Companies, whose flagship business is Rocket Mortgage. Collectively, their mission is to “help everyone home.” In this feature, read about the partnership between Rocket Community Fund and the Gilbert Family Foundation and how their historic 10-year joint investment is working to unlock opportunity in Detroit neighborhoods with a data-driven approach, centered in community voice.

“We recognize the enormous importance of stable and secure housing in driving greater opportunity for all Americans,” Laura Grannemann, executive director of Rocket Community Fund and the Gilbert Family Foundation and CMF trustee said. “It is the central way that families build and transfer intergenerational wealth and the foundation for strong communities.”

However, the pathway to secure housing is not always clear. That is why the Rocket Community Fund’s mission is to simplify complex and inequitable systems to ensure that every American has access to safe and stable housing.

As part of this mission, they invest in programs and partnerships focused on four key areas: ending homelessness, preventing displacement, building wealth through homeownership and bridging the digital divide.

“The impact of racist systems on housing access cannot be understated. From the legacy of redlining to racial bias in home appraisals, People of Color have been systemically excluded from the opportunity to build wealth through homeownership,” Grannemann said. “No serious effort to address housing instability in America can exist unless it is rooted in the desire for more just and equitable systems. At the Rocket Community Fund, we work hard to ensure that our programs are directly informed by the communities we serve and specifically the people affected by these broken systems.”

In 2021, the Rocket Community Fund and Gilbert Family Foundation made a historic 10-year joint investment to unlock opportunity in Detroit neighborhoods. As part of this commitment, the organizations work very closely together on a range of investments specifically related to housing and economic mobility.

“The heart of our joint strategy is to keep longtime Detroit residents safely and securely housed so they have a stable foundation to build wealth and connect to greater economic opportunity. We build on this strategy with community-wide investments in public space and arts and culture that bring people together and strengthen social bonds. All our funding priorities center around this group of Detroit residents,” Grannemann said.

Grannemann shares that it is an intentional strategy designed to remove the barriers that have held too many Detroiters back.

“We pride ourselves in building partnerships and programs that bring people together in creative ways to both serve individuals and collectively advocate for policy change,” Grannemann said.

Three years into the joint investment, 10,000 families have already had their delinquent property tax debt wiped out through the Detroit Tax Relief Fund. The Detroit Eviction Defense Fund has also provided legal counsel to over 5,000 families throughout the eviction process.

Grannemann said the team has also worked to understand other obstacles these families face and made follow-on investments in home repair, and access to internet, safe public spaces and arts institutions.

The Gilbert Family Foundation recently announced Tomorrow’s Housing Innovation Showcase (THIS), which aims to address the key challenge of increasing access to high quality housing stock. Through the showcase, they hope to demonstrate how factory-built housing can address affordability and add density in neighborhoods with significant vacant land.

The partnership between the Gilbert Family Foundation and Rocket Community Fund is especially impactful, Grannemann says, because they have shared values and a shared culture, which allows them to collaborate more effectively.

She noted the importance of data and analysis, deep collaboration across sectors and centering their investments in community voice.

“Data becomes so powerful. When we can pinpoint the problem, and have strong input from community members, it becomes much easier to rally people toward a solution,” Grannemann said.

Grannemann said grounding the work in data can also help keep a shared focus on the goals to bridge divides across differences.

“People ultimately want the same things: a safe, stable home, gainful employment and the mental and physical space to enjoy life. There may be disagreements or differences of opinion in how best to implement a program or structure an investment, but those can be overcome if we keep our central focus on the end goals that bring us together. The most important thing is that we keep our residents at the center of our investments,” Grannemann said.

To effectively address racial equity, we must focus on people-centered solutions and authentic partnerships, Grannemann said.

“Nobody can do this work alone. We all must work together if we want to make meaningful, lasting change. These systems of inequity were not built in a vacuum, so they can’t be dismantled that way either,” Grannemann said.