Apple expands Racial Equity and Justice Initiative with new programs
January 13, 2021
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Earlier this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook promised a “major” announcement today, and now it has hit the wires: Apple has announced new programs in its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, or REJI.

Here are the specific programs being launched or expanded, according to Apple’s press release this morning:

These forward-looking and comprehensive efforts include the Propel Center, a first-of-its-kind global innovation and learning hub for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs); an Apple Developer Academy to support coding and tech education for students in Detroit; and venture capital funding for Black and Brown entrepreneurs.

Apple launched its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative last June. CEO Tim Cook appointed Apple’s VP of Environmental Policy and Social Initiatives, Lisa Jackson, to head up the program.

According to a statement by Cook at the time, the program was established to “challenge the systemic barriers to opportunity and dignity that exist for communities of color,” with a special emphasis on the Black community.

Specifically, that meant working with historically Black colleges to open coding boot camps and programs, increasing spending with Black-owned partner businesses, and initiating efforts to create opportunities for Black entrepreneurs and software developers. It also meant making an effort to hire more developers of color within Apple itself.

As with today’s development, the announcement in June was timed directly after national events in the United States that brought these issues to the forefront. Then, it was the protests in response to the death of George Floyd and other misconduct and tragedies rooted in systemic racism. Today, it follows last week’s storming of the US Capitol by rioters who included white supremacists.

To get more specific on today’s news, Apple will contribute $25 million to the Propel Center to prop up the center’s Atlanta campus and virtual learning programs. “Experts from Apple” will help develop curricula in areas like app development, augmented reality, agricultural technologies, AI, and machine learning, among other things.

Additionally, Apple’s Detroit developer academy will train “young Black entrepreneurs, creators, and coders” in collaboration with Michigan State University. It will offer two programs: a 30-day crash course and an intensive 10- to 12-month program.

Last year, many other major tech companies announced their own initiatives to invest in communities of people of color and in hiring more Black developers—for example, Microsoft expanded its diversity and inclusion investment by $150 million and committed to several internal cultural changes.

Apple has not made any statements about the progress of previously announced efforts to date.

Listing image by Apple

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