Detroit Regional Chamber > Education & Talent > First Class of 90 Students Graduates from Detroit’s Apple Developer Academy

First Class of 90 Students Graduates from Detroit’s Apple Developer Academy

July 12, 2022

Crain’s Detroit Business
Nick Manes

June 30, 2022

The first-in-the-nation Apple Developer Academy, a partnership between tech giant Apple Inc. and Michigan State University housed in downtown Detroit, has graduated its first set of students.

Launched last October and seeking to prepare students for jobs developing applications for the iPhone maker’s iOS platform, the MSU-affiliated academy graduated 90 students Thursday morning out of an initial 100 that began the program last fall.

Boosters say the graduation, which comes less than two weeks after a report named Detroit as the top emerging economy in the world for startup activity, serves as yet another feather in the cap for inclusive economic development efforts in the city.

“It’s really what’s happening in this room,” said James Feagin, the director of economic mobility for the Gilbert Family Foundation, Dan and Jennifer Gilbert’s philanthropic organization. The foundation has supported the academy.

“It’s about being bold and taking risks,” Feagin said during remarks at the graduation event Thursday in the academy’s space on the second floor of the First National Building in downtown Detroit, an office building owned by billionaire Gilbert’s real estate company, Bedrock.

The free program was launched as part of Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative. The graduates of the inaugural cohort range in age from 18 to 64, and academy students have secured employment with a variety of companies following graduation, including General Motors, Ford, Accenture, and Rocket Mortgage, according to a news release.

For Marcus Mead, the academy represents an opportunity to start a new company.

Mead was part of a team that helped build an app called BiteSite during the academy. The app aims to help those with allergies or dietary restrictions do their shopping and avoid ingredients they can’t have.

“There are so many ways we could take this tool,” Mead told Crain’s in an interview following the graduation event, saying the team members, many of whom live in Detroit, are exploring building a subscription-based business for the nascent app.

The program is expected to grow, organizers say. The next cohort is expected to have around 200 participants, according to Dan Olsen, an MSU spokesperson.

“Detroiters have not had this opportunity, no matter how talented you are,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said. “If you’ve been through our schools, you don’t get the opportunity of the mentorships, the internships. So to come here and take advantage of that talent was hard for me to believe, but they did a great job of setting it up.”

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