For Detroit to continue on its path back to greatness, we must establish a technology sector that will be sustainable for generations to come. To do that, it’s important business, philanthropy and education work together to make sure the next generation of tech workers is prepared for the careers of the future.

I applaud the Detroit Public Schools Foundation’s efforts to fund successful STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs for Detroit students. They are closely aligned with similar efforts my company, VisionIT, supports. For example, at the start of this year, an initiative named was launched with the purpose of inciting enthusiasm and interest in coding among young people. It was launched in a big way, releasing a video that included two of the most famous coders in recent history – Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

I am particularly excited about this venture because it is bringing to the forefront what VisionIT has been fostering for the past six years through our sponsorship and collaboration with T-LAB, a nonprofit education and training organization that started in Detroit. We hold closely the belief that every student should have the opportunity to use technology to learn at his or her highest potential and to learn to code.

One of the highlights of the video is Gates and Zuckerberg talking about how they learned to code at a young age, as I did when I learned how to write basic code at the age of 13, on my Commodore 64. That ability to write software led to my ability to launch VisionIT at age 25.   When I now see students learning how to code, I remember being inspired at that age. Students now, more than ever, have an opportunity to turn that interest into careers, thanks to the advent of mobile devices.

I’m proud to say we’ve influenced the futures of more than 600 students. And that number is growing exponentially through additional T-LAB locations in Chicago, Las Vegas and soon to come, New York. But here in Detroit, it’s important to remember that without support from the community, our schools simply wouldn’t be able to afford to bring students the up-to-date, high-tech experiences needed to create the real-life knowledge and skill needed for early success in the technology field. It takes support via philanthropy to make it possible.

The next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg could be learning in a Detroit classroom right now. But without access to technology and a working knowledge of IT, we will never know it. Through the support of STEM education, we have the potential to harness that talent, and through it, the future of our community.