Apple CEO Tim Cook traveled to Birmingham Thursday to unveil a new education initiative for local students, visit with local leaders and make a surprise visit to an Apple Store where he took selfies with employees.
Cook, 59, looked right at home in the Forbes building on 4th Avenue North, saying that “Education is in Apple’s DNA and Alabama is in my DNA.”
The initiative, dubbed Education Farm or Ed Farm, focuses on innovative learning strategies, including opportunities for students of all ages to learn to computer code using Swift, Apple’s easy-to-learn coding language.
As part of its Community Education Initiative, Apple is providing Ed Farm with hardware, software, funding and professional learning support. Apple has supplied Birmingham City Schools with more than 400 new devices being used in classrooms today.
“Our partnerships with Birmingham City Schools and the Birmingham community on the Teacher Fellows, Pathways and Student Fellows programs have already produced successful results, and we are thrilled at this initiative’s potential as it continues to move forward,” said Chris McCauley, Ed Farm program director.
Ed Farm is working alongside educators from 13 Birmingham City Schools for its Teacher Fellows program. Since July 2019, the Teacher Fellows have done rigorous training in Birmingham; Austin, Texas, and Phoenix, Arizona. The Fellows are now offering ground-breaking computer science and creativity courses in their respective classrooms.
Through the Pathways program, Ed Farm also works with adult learners in Greater Birmingham to build digital skills, increase confidence with coding and promote attainment of post-secondary credentials. The program provides valuable introductory learning experiences for adults who are interested in filling or creating jobs of the future.
Pathways begins with an 11-week course focused on App Development with Swift curriculum and essential workplace skills activities.
Birmingham is the latest city to be part of Apple’s Community Education Initiative. Ed Farm will work with TechAlabama, Birmingham City Schools, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and other community leaders as part of the initiative.
Cook said Apple’s commitment to Birmingham would include an “enduring commitment to equality” using digital storytelling to further the important work of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
Millions of students in more than 5,000 schools worldwide use Apple’s Everyone Can Code curriculum to develop important skills including creativity, collaboration and problem solving.
Visiting Birmingham’s Apple Store the same day, Cook chatted with employees after being greeted by a standing ovation.
Cook, an Alabama native who earned his undergraduate degree from Auburn University, has served as Apple CEO since taking over from company founder Steve Jobs in 2011.