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Apple, MSU open app developer academy in downtown Detroit

Crain’s Detroit Business
Oct. 8, 2021
Nick Manes

Tech giant Apple Inc. and Michigan State University have officially opened their joint development academy in downtown Detroit.

The project — announced early this year and housed in the First National Building in Detroit’s central business district — makes for Apple’s first developer academy in the United States, according to a news release from the maker of the iPhone. The goal of the academy is to “prepare its students for jobs in the thriving iOS app economy,” and will teach fundamentals of coding, as well as design, marketing and more, according to the release.

The first class in Detroit, which began this week, consists of 104 students between the ages of 18 and 60. The cohort will receive 10 months of app development and entrepreneurial training. Enrollment for the academy is free, according to the release.

The academy is expected to reach close to 1,000 students per year through the full 10-month program and a shorter four-week foundation course, the release stated.

As part of the partnership with Michigan State, the East Lansing-based university will provide the mentors within the academy and Apple provides the equipment. The academy is in downtown’s First National Building at 660 Woodward Ave., owned by real estate company Bedrock, which is providing the space.

Specific costs for each organization were not provided.

“Six months ago, for me, this was a vision and people talked about getting an Apple developer academy in Detroit,” MSU President Samuel Stanley told Crain’s during an interview Thursday. “I think the mission really is to give people the technology tools so they can develop apps for the Apple system, so they can find jobs doing that.”

The Gilbert Family Foundation, headed by billionaire Dan Gilbert and his wife Jennifer, in partnership with Detroit-based Rocket Companies Inc., provided a gift to MSU in support of the academy’s efforts in Detroit, and the financial services firm. The Gilberts will also continue to contribute support to the academy as it grows and evolves, according to the release.

“We believe apps for everyone should be designed by everyone, and that all aspiring developers and entrepreneurs should have the opportunity to be a part of the thriving app economy,” Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, said in the release. “Detroit has an incredible entrepreneurial spirit, powered by creativity and inclusion, and we’re thrilled to welcome this inaugural class of creators as we start classes at the Apple Developer Academy, the first of its kind in the US. Through the power of technology and innovation, we are proud to be helping prepare these innovators for new opportunities.”

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