• More than 1,000 students have graduated from the free program since 2021
  • 50 graduates continue their training in the second-year Renaissance program
  • The academy’s continued success builds on Detroit’s reputation as an emerging technology hub

DETROIT, MI (June 27, 2024) – The Apple Developer Academy today celebrated its third graduating class, empowering nearly 200 Detroiters with the skills to excel in the city’s rapidly expanding tech sector.

This partnership between Apple and Michigan State University, with the support of the Gilbert Family Foundation offers a free, intensive 10-month program focused on coding, design, marketing, project management, and newly introduced curriculum for artificial intelligence technologies and frameworks. The academy prioritizes inclusivity, encouraging a diverse range of students, aged 18 to 70+, to develop innovative tech solutions that address local community needs.

As part of the Gilbert Family Foundation and Rocket Community Fund’s $500 million, 10-year commitment to Detroit, the Apple Developer Academy goes beyond providing training. It fosters a direct talent pipeline, connecting graduates with internships and career opportunities at local businesses throughout Detroit. This strengthens the city’s tech ecosystem and creates pathways to economic mobility for Detroiters.

“The Apple Developer Academy is a perfect example of how we’re supporting Detroiters to build skills that will help them get paid,” said Laura Grannemann, Executive Director of the Gilbert Family Foundation. “Detroit is rapidly becoming one of the nation’s leading technology hubs, and the Academy’s graduates are uniquely equipped to take advantage of the city’s growth. The success of this year’s graduates is a testament to the potential that exists within our city when we remove traditional barriers to access.”

The academy is one part of Michigan State University’s increasing presence in Detroit and effort to expand throughout the state.

“The Apple Developer Academy empowers students with innovative problem-solving skills and cutting-edge technology,” said Dave Weatherspoon, vice provost of Michigan State University. “MSU is proud to participate in a program that prioritizes equity and accessibility, equipping Detroiters with the tools to develop apps that address critical challenges. These students bring essential, often overlooked perspectives that will lead to better solutions for the future.”

Established as part of Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, the academy’s comprehensive curriculum equips students with the knowledge and tools needed to build iOS apps that contribute to their local businesses and communities.

“It’s exciting to see the impactful ideas that students at the Apple Developer Academy are building, and it’s an honor to play a part in supporting the work of this vibrant and creative community,” said Alisha Johnson Wilder, Director of Apple’s Racial Justice and Equity Initiative. “We created REJI with the goal of further advancing our work to build a equitable world, and these students continue to prove that with the power of technology and greater access to resources, so much is possible. We can’t wait to see how this year’s graduating class continues to make a positive impact in Detroit and beyond.”

Dezmond Blair, a graduating student at the academy, is now a coding mentor at the Foundations program and plans to continue building apps, with a particular interest in visionOS, Apple’s spatial computing platform for Apple Vision Pro. Blair is also a 2024 Swift Student Challenge Distinguished Winner, who was recognized for his app project MTB-XTREME, which marries his passion for biking with technology and takes users through an immersive ride.

“The Apple Developer Academy has truly put me on the path to becoming a world-class developer, and it has opened so many doors for me,” said Blair. “I’m looking forward to utilizing my knowledge to create and publish my own apps, as well as working with other likeminded developers to create experiences that will change the world.”

To further support graduates’ career paths, 50 exceptional students will continue their training in the second-year Renaissance program. The program has offered advanced training, mentorship and collaboration opportunities with local organizations including the Detroit Historical Museum, interior design studio, Parini, sustainable boutique retailer, eugenie Detroit, and MSU Museum this year. While many Academy graduates have already secured positions at prominent companies, Renaissance learners are also being encouraged to consider launching their own businesses.

This year’s Renaissance learners participated in Operations School, a six-month program providing specialized workforce training and entrepreneurship education. This unique curriculum equips graduates not only with technical skills but also with the business acumen needed to build their own tech ventures.

Detroit residents aged 18 and older are encouraged to apply for the next cohort of the Apple Developer Academy. The program is free and open to all, regardless of prior coding experience.

For more information or to apply, visit developeracademy.msu.edu.



About the Gilbert Family Foundation:

The Gilbert Family Foundation is a private nonprofit foundation founded by Jennifer and Dan Gilbert to accelerate a cure for neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) and build economic opportunity and equity in the city of Detroit. The Gilbert Family Foundation supports groundbreaking, cutting-edge research in hopes of eradicating NF1, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on nerves anywhere in the body. Additionally, the Foundation supports the economic stability and mobility of residents in Detroit by investing in wealth-building opportunities and breaking down systemic barriers.

For more information on the Gilbert Family Foundation, please visit gilbertfamilyfoundation.org.


About Michigan State University:

Michigan State University has been advancing the common good with uncommon will for more than 165 years. One of the world’s leading public research universities, MSU pushes the boundaries of discovery to make a better, safer, healthier world for all while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 400 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges. For MSU news on the web, go to MSUToday or x.com/MSUnews.