Gilbert Family Foundation and Rock Family of Cos. Announce Support for Apple Developer Academy in Detroit

Michigan State University in East Lansing have announced the Gilbert Family Foundation, in partnership with the Rock Family of Cos., will support the new Apple Developer Academy in downtown Detroit with a grant of an undisclosed amount, along with space in the First National Building for the institution.
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Apple developer academy
The Gilbert Family Foundation and the Rock Family of Cos. have announced their support for the MSU Apple Developer Academy in Detroit. // Courtesy of Bedrock

Michigan State University in East Lansing have announced the Gilbert Family Foundation, in partnership with the Rock Family of Cos., will support the new Apple Developer Academy in downtown Detroit with a grant of an undisclosed amount, along with space in the First National Building for the institution.

The Apple Developer Academy is an education collaboration between Apple and MSU. It will be the first Apple Developer Academy in North America.

Apple, MSU, and the Rock Family of Cos. say they share a vision to empower diverse entrepreneurs, creators, and coders by helping them cultivate the skills necessary for pathways in the rapidly growing tech economy. The undisclosed Gilbert Family Foundation grant will support the academy’s general operations and expenses including but not limited to program development, infrastructure, and staffing.

“Apple’s arrival in Detroit has the potential to impact generations of Detroiters by offering new, unique pathways to join the tech renaissance,” says Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Rocket Cos. “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.”

In addition to the grant from the Gilbert Family Foundation, the Rock Family of Cos. will propose mentor and student pathways to and from the academy, contribute to the academy program through guest presentations and networking events, and present career pathways for interested graduates.

The academy will be located on the second floor of Bedrock’s 660 Woodward Ave., known as the historic First National Building.

Establishing the Academy in Detroit reinforces the city’s reputation as a Midwest hub for technology and entrepreneurship.

“At Apple, we have seen how technology can be a powerful force for good, creating new opportunities and providing tools for creativity and entrepreneurship,” says Lisa Jackson, vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives at Apple.

“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 U.S. in downtown Detroit, a city full of resilience, creativity, and entrepreneurship. We look forward to opening the academy this fall and appreciate the partnership with MSU, The Gilbert Family Foundation, and Rock Family of Cos.”

The academy will welcome its first cohort of students in the Fall of 2021. Tuition to the academy is free, and priority admission is granted to applicants from Detroit. Apple and MSU anticipate that the Academy will impact close to 1,000 students each year.

The grant provides MSU with the capacity to not only build, but also grow and sustain pathways to employment for diverse learners by:

  • Offering a distinctive educational experience in a city that embraces innovation and diversity
  • Accelerating local support that will help drive student participation and entrepreneurship
  • Supporting MSU’s startup costs and operating expenses
  • Expanding the university’s presence in Detroit
  • Strengthening connections with a vibrant network of community partners

Over the last several years, MSU and the Rock Family of Cos. have worked together to bring equitable learning experiences to Detroit residents that would provide new pathways for students to break into technology careers. This academy space builds on that history of partnership and on the Rock Family of Cos.’ broader mission to drive equity and bridge the digital divide for all residents across Detroit.

“There is no better city than Detroit for the Apple Developer Academy, and we’re excited to partner with MSU and Apple to bring it to life,” says Jay Farner, CEO of Rocket Cos. “This is another significant step we’re taking to build a diverse ecosystem of Detroit-grown businesses and talent. We’re equipping entrepreneurs with tools they need to succeed in a fast-growing sector and can’t wait to see the ideas that emerge from the academy.”

Partnering to bring the Apple Developer Academy to Detroit was a natural fit and represents a major milestone for the longstanding vision and relationship with the Rock Family of Cos. and the Gilberts, who both are MSU alumni.

“I thank the Gilbert Family Foundation and the Rock Family of Cos. for their philanthropic leadership and for making the investment in this exciting, groundbreaking partnership in Detroit,” says Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr., president of MSU. “Increasing access to education is important to MSU and a cornerstone of our university’s mission. We are grateful to have a partner who shares our vision for equity and talent development.”

MSU is currently vetting candidates for academic mentors to join the academy in the fall, and student applications are open through the end of June.

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