Last June, Apple announced it would devote $ 100 million to its new racial equity and justice initiative, an effort to “challenge systemic barriers to opportunity and dignity that exist for communities of color and in particular for the black community . Now the company is ready to share details on how some of that money will be used.
On Wednesday morning, the iPhone maker announced it would invest in a series of programs: a learning center for historically black colleges and universities (both online and physical, in Atlanta), an Apple Developer Academy for teach coding skills in Detroit and a check for $ 10 million in venture capital funding for entrepreneurs of color.
“The CEO asked us to really focus on this point [the push for racial equity]Said Lisa Jackson, vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives Fortune in a telephone interview earlier this week. “We wanted to show people that it wasn’t just about talking.”
In addition to her other duties, Jackson, a former director of the Environmental Protection Agency, has been tasked with leading Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative. According to the company, this effort complements the work of Apple’s internal diversity team. (The company recently announced that Barbara Whye, the former head of diversity and inclusion at Intel, would spearhead these internal efforts starting early this year.)
Apple isn’t the only tech company making ambitious new commitments to tackle racial inequality, in addition to stepping up efforts to increase racial and ethnic representation among its employees. (So far, few tech giants have managed to shake the needle significantly when it comes to their internal efforts.) In the wake of the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and other black Americans – and them Massive protests that followed in response – many companies launched similar pledges. Now some follow.
Technology provider HP, for example, has also publicly stated its diversity goals and is set to announce several new steps it plans to take, including the goal of achieving 10% “diversity spend” with black suppliers. ‘by 2022.
According to Jackson, Apple is building on its roots to deliver viable programs. The Detroit-based development center, she says, is modeled on the development academies the company has set up and operating in countries like Brazil, Italy and Indonesia. A 30-day introductory course is meant to be a ‘big funnel’, and a more in-depth, long-term program will also be available. The company says it plans to reach nearly 1,000 students per year through the center. “It’s a model that has worked very wellJackson said.
The Centered Learning Center at Historically Black Universities and Colleges represents a $ 25 million investment from Apple and will include “a robust virtual platform, a physical campus in historic downtown Atlanta, as well as activations. on campus at partner institutions, ”According to the company. As for the $ 10 million commitment to entrepreneurs of color, which will be invested by Harlem Capital, a New York-based startup venture capital firm, over the next 20 years.
Long-term commitments are essential to reduce long-standing racial inequalities. The same goes for accountability. Many in the industry and outside of the industry have expressed concern that the initial statements and goals set out by companies over the summer months didn’t amount to much. Apple hopes to show it’s serious about these goals and move quickly to make them happen.
“We are all responsible for the urgent work of building a fairer and more equitable world – and these new projects send a clear signal of Apple’s enduring commitment,” said Tim Cook, CEO of the company, in a press release announcing new initiatives.
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