Making more equitable opportunities a priority for those who need it in Detroit isn’t just lofty ideas and wishful thinking — it’s becoming a reality in the tech world being made possible through Apple.
Later this year the company will open an Apple Developer Academy in Detroit — the first of its kind in the country. Combined with Detroit’s vibrant Black entrepreneur and developer community (with over 50,000 Black-owned businesses according to US Census data) it’s a placement with possibility. The academy is designed to empower young Black entrepreneurs, creators and coders, cultivate the skills necessary for jobs in the rapidly growing iOS app economy. Launched in collaboration with Michigan State University, Apple Developer Academy courses will be open to all learners across Detroit, regardless of their academic background or whether they have any previous coding experience.
The Apple Developer Academy will offer two programs in Detroit. One is a 30-day introductory program designed for learners who are considering app economy careers and looking to better understand what it means to be a developer. The other is the full academy program, an intensive 10- to 12-month program that will help aspiring developers build the skills needed to participate in the iOS app economy, and even start their own businesses. Apple expects the academy’s programming to reach close to 1,000 students each year with a curriculum that covers coding, design, marketing and professional skills.
Jeff Grabill, associate provost for Teaching, Learning, and Technology at Michigan State University, said though details can’t be discussed when the Academy will open, it will be soon.
“We hope to be able to announce [the date] even sooner,” he said, adding that MSU’s been playing a big role in the Academy planting roots in the city. “MSU has a primary role in bringing the Academy to Detroit based on a few years of working with Apple on educational projects. It is my hope that the Academy opens up new pathways for MSU to educate the people of the state of Michigan along with new and unique opportunities for MSU students as well.”
Grabill told The Michigan Chronicle that the equity issues are “fundamental” to why there will be an Academy in Detroit.
“The investment on the part of Apple is part of their larger equity-focused initiatives. For MSU as well, this is an effort to be more inclusive as an institution, and both MSU and Apple have high expectations for equity-focused outcomes for the Academy. It is a priority,” he said.
“We’re grateful for the partnership this opportunity brings to Michigan,” said MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. “Apple is the perfect partner for us to help educate and prepare a diverse generation of coders, tech leaders and entrepreneurs, and Detroit — Michigan’s innovative technology and premier urban hub — is the right location for this academy. There is tremendous potential for this project moving forward and we’re excited to get started.”
The Academy is part of Apple’s announcement in January about a set of major new projects as part of its $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI) to help dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and combat injustices faced by communities of color. These multidimensional projects include the Propel Center, a first-of-its-kind global innovation and learning hub for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the Academy. The Academy is also aimed to support coding and tech education for students in Detroit; and venture capital funding for Black and Brown entrepreneurs. Together, Apple’s REJI commitments aim to expand opportunities for communities of color across the country and to help build the next generation of diverse leaders, according to the company.
“We are all accountable to the urgent work of building a more just, more equitable world — and these new projects send a clear signal of Apple’s enduring commitment,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We’re launching REJI’s latest initiatives with partners across a broad range of industries and backgrounds — from students to teachers, developers to entrepreneurs, and community organizers to justice advocates — working together to empower communities that have borne the brunt of racism and discrimination for far too long. We are honored to help bring this vision to bear and to match our words and actions to the values of equity and inclusion we have always prized at Apple.”
Last June, Apple announced REJI in the wake of protests around the world following the killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and countless others. The initiative builds on Apple’s work to advance racial equity in education, the economy and the criminal justice system and is led by Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, Lisa Jackson.
“Every individual deserves equal access to opportunity regardless of skin color or zip code,” said Jackson. “For too long, communities of color have faced gross injustices and institutional barriers to their pursuit of the American dream, and we are proud to lend our voices and resources to build new engines of opportunity that empower, inspire, and create meaningful change.”
MSU will host the first Apple Developer Academy in North America. A few Apple Developer Academies exist worldwide; presently, locations are in Brazil, Italy and Indonesia.
The Apple Developer Academy with MSU will be open to all Michiganders. There will be a competitive application process designed to create diverse cohorts of students, according to MSU.
MSU is working on logistics related to opening the Academy and will release details related to location and the first cohort as they are finalized.
For more information visit https://msutoday.msu.edu and search “Apple.”