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Apple & Tennessee State University partner on bringing coding to historically black schools

Apple and Tennessee State University have joined together on the HBCU C2 Presidential Academy, meant to expose students at historically black colleges and universities — HBCUs — to opportunities in programming and app development.

The inaugural session of the Academy took place July 19, and was attended by students from 14 different HBCUs, said the Tennessean. Founded in 1912, TSU is itself historically black.

"The goal is to make sure HBCUs are not only up to date, but are creators and innovators of this new technology," said Robbie Melton, the school's interim Dean of Graduates and Professional Studies.

Apple supplied the Academy with its standard Swift programming curriculum for schools, along with equipment, scholarships, and professional development services. Students were encouraged to think of apps that could help the community, though Melton noted that some students concentrated on an app that could find parking at the TSU campus.

HBCUs pre-date the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and extended education to blacks at a time when they were often shut out of predominantly white schools. In the modern era these schools have become more racially diverse, to the point that some have non-black majorities.

The company has spent considerable effort getting Swift into colleges, universities, and high schools, primarily in the U.S., but in other countries as well. CEO Tim Cook has even brought the issue in front of President Trump, arguing that programming should be a requirement for every K-12 student.

The campaign has at least some selfish benefits. Swift is primarily geared toward Apple platforms, and improving familiarity means more apps and possibly even future employees. It also exposes people to Apple hardware, particularly the Macs and iPads it offers for Swift training.