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June 28, 2024

Highlighting the latest Apple Developer Academy graduating class

The Michigan State University Apple Developer Academy in Detroit celebrated its third graduating cohort after students completed a 10-month program where they received app development training, critical business skills and preparation for careers in the growing app economy.

A graduation ceremony on June 27, at the First National Building in the heart of Detroit, celebrated 176 students in the latest graduating cohort, joining more than 1,000 students who have completed the program since 2021.

The diverse class, ranging in age from 18 to 76, will see students go on to full- or part-time careers in app development, internships or apprenticeships, while others continue their education. That includes 50 students continuing their training in the Apple Developer Academy’s second-year Renaissance program that offers advanced training, mentorship and collaboration opportunities with local organizations. Their career fields range from app development and marketing, to design, project management, entrepreneurship and mentoring.

The Apple Developer Academy, a partnership between MSU and Apple with support from the Gilbert Family Foundation, is a free program for qualified candidates that teaches learners coding, marketing, project management and design. The program is offered with a focus on creating positive impacts on communities and embracing inclusivity.

Dave Weatherspoon speaking at a lectern wearing a green jacket.
Dave Weatherspoon, MSU’s vice provost of enrollment and academic strategic planning. Courtesy photo.

“Do not underestimate the value you bring to the future. You have been primed to see solutions where others see obstacles, to find hope where others see despair. Your experiences, combined with the tenacity forged in the heart of Detroit, position you to make profound impacts,” said Dave Weatherspoon, MSU’s vice provost of Enrollment and Academic Strategic Planning. “Detroit Spartans embody resilience and the belief that it is not how you start, but how you end that defines you.”

The MSU Apple Developer Academy is part of a 10-year, $500 million commitment to Detroit by the Gilbert Family Foundation and Rocket Community Fund. The Academy not only provides students critical training for careers in app development, but it connects graduates with internships and professional opportunities in Detroit and beyond.

It includes learners like Dezmond Blair, who was recognized as a Distinguished Winner of the Swift Student Challenge and honored at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference for his coding and app development excellence and innovation.

Learners spend part of their 10 months in the program working in groups to develop an app. Henrik Jones and his group presented their app “Scroll Spike” at the graduation ceremony, which is an app designed to prevent users from “doom scrolling” on social media by tracking heart rate variations and other false stress responses.

Jones started at the Academy by completing the one-month Foundations program, then graduated from the full one-year program. He will be returning to the Apple Developer Academy as a coding mentor, helping the next generation of app developers to advance in the industry.

“Everyone believes in you here and they want you to succeed,” he said. “The culture of continuous learning is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I’ve had such a great experience here and I want to reciprocate that for other learners coming in.”

Omar Davidson II spent two years at the Academy after encouragement from his family to enter the program, despite his own resistance as he believed coding and app development “wouldn’t be my thing.”

“I am happy to say I was wrong about that,” Davidson said. “I quickly fell in love with solving problems, learning a new language and building real applications with my knowledge. I fell in love with the challenge it still gives me.”

Participants from the 2024 Apple Developer Academy graduating class.
Participants from the 2024 Apple Developer Academy graduating class. Courtesy photo.

Through working together and using the skills they recently learned, Davidson and his group developed a scavenger hunt app for the Detroit Historical Society that offers a virtual version of their artifacts collection.

“We believe everyone deserves a chance to learn the skills needed for the workforce of today and tomorrow, and we know that a growing app economy is a place where diverse creators and entrepreneurs such as yourselves have a unique opportunity to make their mark on the world,” said Korri Jackson, senior education program manager with Apple’s Community Education Initiative. “That’s why I’m so excited to congratulate the third graduating class of Detroit’s Apple Developer Academy. Graduates, in the last 10 months you’ve shown what’s possible when determination and opportunities collide. You’ve worked to overcome challenges, individually and as teams, and you created community with one another. You learned to create apps that can improve lives in communities around the world.”

Learn more about the Apple Developer Academy at

By: Mark Johnson

Media Contacts


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