Rock companies to provide multi-million grant, mentor support to Apple Developer Academy

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Michigan State University is expected to announce Thursday that the Gilbert Family Foundation, with the Rock Family of Companies, will provide a grant and mentor support to the new Apple Developer Academy in Detroit.

Officials declined to disclose the amount of the multi-million dollar grant. The Academy will open in October on the second floor of the First National Building, one of Bedrock’s buildings in downtown Detroit. Renderings released this week show the exterior of the building at 660 Woodward Avenue and an open workspace area with computer monitors.

Rendering of the exterior of the Apple Developer Academy expected to open in October on the second floor of the First National Building.

“Apple’s arrival in Detroit has the potential to impact generations of Detroiters by offering new, unique pathways to join the tech renaissance,” Dan Gilbert, chairman and founder of Rocket Companies said in a statement. “As Detroit’s tech sector strengthens, we need to invest in intentional programming like the Academy to advance equity and remove barriers to entry for members of our community. Jennifer and I are proud to be partnered with our alma mater, MSU, and Apple to realize this vision.”

Earlier this year, Apple Inc. announced it would open its first U.S. Apple Developer Academy in downtown Detroit to support coding and tech education. The program is expected to reach nearly 1,000 students each year.

The Apple Developer Academy courses, offered in collaboration with Michigan State University, will be free and accessible to all learners regardless of academic background. Priority admission will be given to Detroit residents. The application process closes June 28.

MSU is also seeking academic mentors.

Officials said the Rock Family of Companies will draw on its network of nearly 100 businesses to propose “mentor and student pathways” to and from the academy. This would include guest presentations and networking events.

Rendering of the Apple Developer Academy expected to open in October on the second floor of the First National Building.

MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. thanked the Gilbert Family Foundation and the Rock Family of Companies for their philanthropic leadership.

“Increasing access to education is important to MSU and a cornerstone of our university’s mission," he said. "We are grateful to have a partner who shares our vision for equity and talent development.”

The academy is part of Apple's $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative that Apple says will “help dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and combat injustices faced by communities of color.”

“At Apple, we have seen how technology can be a powerful force for good, creating new opportunities and providing tools for creativity and entrepreneurship,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. “It’s critical that all communities have access to those opportunities, which is why we are thrilled to open the first Apple Developer Academy in the US in downtown Detroit, a city full of resilience, creativity, and entrepreneurship.”

Those interested in applying can access the application here

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN