Earlier this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook promised an “important” announcement today, and now the time has come: 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 unique global innovation and learning center for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs); an Apple Developer Academy to support coding and technical education for Detroit students; and venture capital financing for black and brown entrepreneurs.
Apple launched its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative last June. CEO Tim Cook appointed Lisa Jackson, Apple’s VP of Environmental Policy and Social Initiatives, to lead the program.
According to a statement from Cook at the time, the program was designed to “challenge the systemic barriers to opportunity and dignity that exist for communities of color,” with a special emphasis on the black community.
In particular, that meant partnering with traditionally black colleges to open coding bootcamps and programs, increasing spending with Black-owned partner companies, and making efforts to create opportunities for black entrepreneurs and software developers. It also meant an effort to hire more color developers within Apple itself.
As with today’s development, the June announcement came right after the national events in the United States that brought these issues to the fore. Then it was the protests in response to George Floyd’s death and other wrongdoing and tragedies rooted in systemic racism. Today follows the storming of the US Capitol last week by rioters, including white supremacists.
To be more specific about today’s news, Apple will contribute $25 million to the Propel Center to support the center’s Atlanta campus and virtual learning programs. Apple’s “Experts” will help develop curricula in areas such as app development, augmented reality, agricultural technologies, AI, and machine learning, among others.
In addition, Apple’s Detroit Developer Academy will train “young black entrepreneurs, creators and programmers” in conjunction with Michigan State University. It offers two programs: a 30-day crash course and a 10- to 12-month intensive program.
Last year, many other major tech companies announced their own initiatives to invest in communities of people of color and hire more black developers. For example, Microsoft expanded its investment in diversity and inclusion by $150 million and committed to several internal cultural changes.
To date, Apple has not made any statements about the progress of previously announced efforts.
List image by Apple