Michigan’s first historically Black college plans to reopen with help from major leaders and corporations. Former Nike and Air Jordan designer, D’Wayne Edwards, created a proposal for the state of Detroit to recognize the importance of reopening Michigan’s first and only HBCU, Lewis College of Business. 

On Tuesday, the City of Detroit announced that the HBCU, which went under in 2013, would reopen its doors for students in December, slightly changing its name to the PENSOLE Lewis College of Business and Design (or PLC). Classes are scheduled to begin in March.

Edwards, the founder of the PENSOLE Design Academy in Portland, Oregon, has already won support from Target, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and the Gilbert Family Foundation. 

“82 years later, and 14 years since it lost its accreditation as HBCU, I am honored to be resurrecting Violet T. Lewis’s legacy in Detroit,” Edwards said in a press release.

Unlike a traditional college, PENSOLE Lewis College will not grant degrees. Instead, Edwards explained, “[PLC] would work more like a certification program where the school works with brands to sculpt courses in design to meet their needs. Suppose students were interested in getting a degree as well. In that case, they’d be able to ‘stack’ classes at the College for Creative Studies to earn a diploma.”

The sneaker designer also shares that PENSOLE college would be “majority tuition-free,” offering prospective students free housing and tuition.

“Brands would pay for students’ tuition and housing, and in return, get a pipeline of talented students ready for work,” said Edwards.

Current program sponsors behind the project include brands like Nike, ASICS, adidas and New Balance. While PLC does not have a physical location, students will be provided housing in Detroit at the College for Creative Studies A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is championing the HBCU’s reopening.

“As a predominantly Black city, Detroit should have an operating Historically Black College. Not having one has been a hole in our educational landscape for too long,” Duggan said. “To have the first HBCU anywhere to reopen happen in Detroit would be a tremendous demonstration of how our city is coming back as a city of opportunity for people of color.”