Apple backing new equality initiatives with $100 million pledge

Last summer Apple announced it would be putting $100 million into a new Equity and Justice Initiative and has now finally revealed how it’ll be spending the cash.

In response to the Black Lives Matter protests in mid-2020, Apple committed $100 million to a new Racial Equity and Justice Initiative lead by the company’s vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives, Lisa Jackson.

Apple has kept relatively quiet about the specifics of this move since then. We’ve seen other companies pushing to improve diversity and equal opportunities – Netflix has paved out a roadmap to provide better gender and ethnic representation for example – but Apple’s large financial commitment was one of the biggest and most attention grabbing.

This week we finally know how that money will be put to use.

Three projects have officially unveiled by Apple, including a new learning hub for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) called the Propel Centre, an Apple Developer Academy for students in Detroit, and venture capital funding for Black and Brown entrepreneurs.

$25 million will be dedicated to the Propel Centre alone, which will be a physical campus and virtual platform in the Atlanta University Centre. Educational tasks focused on AI, social justice, app development, AR, and more will be offered to students, alongside mentorship programs.

The Developer Academy, meanwhile, will be a collaborative effort with Michigan State University open to all Detroit students. Two programs will be available: an introductory 30-day curriculum and a full 12-month course, reaching roughly 1,000 students in total each year.

The third project, venture capital funding, will see Apple dish out cash to a variety of organisations. $10 million will be going to Harlem Capital, a New York firm specializing in VR, with a promise of further collaboration with Apple in the future. A larger $25 million will be given to financial institution Siebert Williams Shank to help with its Vision Impact Fund. A contribution will also be made to The King Centre.

It’ll be interesting to see how Apple continues to financially support pro-active communities and organisations in 2021, particularly as the Black Lives Matter movement shifts out of mainstream media.

It’s great to see these initiatives finally becoming commonplace with larger tech companies and hopefully these will be long-term, consistent efforts that don’t taper off as the headlines and publicity benefits fizzle out.

Here’s to a more inclusive decade in all corners of the tech industry, from Apple’s own employees to the VR producers in the Big Apple.

@thredmag

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