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EAST LANSING — Dan Gilbert and his family of companies are contributing financial support to Michigan State University and Apple as they develop North America’s first Apple Developer Academy in downtown Detroit. 

MSU announced Thursday that the coding school will open in October on the second floor of the First National Building, which Gilbert owns, located at 660 Woodward Ave. in Detroit, according to a press release. The school will give students the chance to learn coding, design, entrepreneurship and other skills needed in the apps economy free of tuition. 

A Gilbert Family Foundation grant will help cover general operations and expenses, including program development, infrastructure and staffing for the Apply Academy. The first cohort of students arrives this fall. 

Gilbert’s Rock Family of Companies, composed of the tech billionaire and MSU alumnus’ more than 100 businesses, plans to lend student and mentor pathways to and from the Apple Academy and contribute guest presentations, networking events and career pathways to graduates, according to the press release.

“Apple’s arrival in Detroit has the potential to impact generations of Detroiters by offering new, unique pathways to join the tech renaissance,” said Gilbert in a press release. “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 connecting students with tech careers, the Apple Academy, part of Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, will look to improve access to technology in communities of color and diversify the tech and entrepreneurship industries. 

The Apple Academy could teach nearly 100 students in its first year and hopes to grow to 200 students each year after. 

“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 Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, in the press release. “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 Companies.”

This story will be updated.

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