Apple’s First Developer Academy in the US Welcomes Inaugural Class in Detroit  

Apple Academy students get to work on projects and getting to know their classmates through group assignments Thursday, October 7 in Detroit.  

Photo provided by Apple

Apple Developer Academy in Detroit, the first of its kind in the United States, welcomed its inaugural cohort of about 104 students on Monday, October 4 at First National Building downtown.

The academy opened this month in a newly redesigned space in the city as part of Apple’s $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI).

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.

A few Apple Developer Academies exist worldwide; presently, locations are in Brazil, Italy, and Indonesia. Michigan State University (MSU) is hosting the Apple Developer Academy.

Located in a new, custom-designed space in the First National Building, the Academy welcomes students in-person to an environment created specifically to facilitate collaboration and engagement. The Gilbert Family Foundation contributed a gift to MSU to provide the space, and the foundation will support the Detroit Apple Developer Academy’s efforts as it grows and evolves.

Over 100 students are in the first cohort and come from all over Metro Detroit, and range in ages from 18 to 60 years old.

The Academy anticipates reaching close to 1,000 students annually through the full 10-month Academy program and a shorter four-week Foundation course. The academy curriculum is designed to ensure graduates have the full suite of skills to find and create jobs in the iOS app economy. This includes coding fundamentals, design, marketing, and more. The iOS app economy supports over 2.1 million jobs across all 50 states and continues to provide new economic opportunities for developers and their teams, according to a press release.

On Thursday, October 8, a tour was held at the Academy where local and statewide leaders were in attendance including Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, Michigan State University President Samuel Stanley, Alisha Johnson, Apple Racial Equity and Justice Initiative Project Lead, and Gordon Shukwit, the director of the Apple Developer Academy in a press 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,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. “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 U.S. Through the power of technology and innovation, we are proud to be helping prepare these innovators for new opportunities.”

After the tour, Gilchrist told the Michigan Chronicle that the state of Michigan is “proud” to see this equity and technology-driven collaboration come together through investments. He also said that Apple making its first US developer academy in Detroit speaks volumes.


“It says a lot about Apple and a lot about Detroit,” he said. “It says that Apple is committed to make sure this type of technology experience … here in Detroit – a place that is boundless when it comes to potential.”

He added that Detroit has always been a “launching pad for people with ideas” and the Academy classes will train a new set of people.

“Folks participating in this will be the best evangelists and storytellers,” he said of further promoting technology.

Apple Academy student Paul Campbell (a senior at Rennaissance High School) told the Michigan Chronicle that he attends school in the morning and his Apple Academy classes in the afternoon—his dedication is just that strong.

“I leave the school at 12:15 and come here,” Campbell said, adding that he wants to be a developer one day. “The drive to come here is of course to pursue my dream and make people happy in the future. Games make me happy and smile, relaxed, in a world of my own. I want that same feeling to be transferred to other people. And that feeling of confidence that I did that.”

“Our goal is to create new pathways and new opportunities for a diverse group of 21st-century tech leaders, and we’re proud to be working with Apple to bring this vision to life,” said Sarah Gretter, Michigan State University’s associate director and lead of the Detroit Apple Developer Academy. “I’m inspired by our first class of students, and can’t wait to see where this journey takes them — whether it’s starting a new business, creating a new app, or developing marketable new skills.”

Enrollment is available at no cost, and students are not required to have any previous coding experience. Students in this year’s class bring a breadth of personal, professional, and academic experience to the program.



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