Apple Inc. announced a set of major new projects related to its $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI) on Wednesday, January 13. The projects are aimed “to help dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and combat injustices faced by communities of color”.
“Together, Apple’s REJI commitments aim to expand opportunities for communities of color across the country and to help build the next generation of diverse leaders,” the company said.
The initiative has come up with three projects as revealed on Wednesday, which include the Propel Center – a learning hub for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, an Apple Developer Academy – to support coding and tech education in Detroit, and venture capital funding for Black and Brown entrepreneurs.
Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO said, “We are all accountable to the urgent work of building a more just, more equitable world – and these new projects send a clear signal of Apple’s enduring commitment.” He added that they are launching REJI’s latest initiatives with partners across a broad range of industries and backgrounds.
Apple is contributing $25 million to the Propel Center in Atlanta to support Historically Black Colleges and University students and faculty. The center will support the upcoming generation of diverse leaders through innovative curricula, technology support, career opportunities, and fellowship programs. Apple said their experts would help in developing curricula and providing mentorship and learning support, along with providing internship opportunities.
The tech giant will also initiate an Apple Developer Academy in Detroit – the first of its kind in the United States – to empower young Black entrepreneurs, creators, and coders with necessary job skills. The academy, in collaboration with Michigan State University, will offer an intensive 10-to-12-month course which will be open to all learners across Detroit, regardless of their academic background or any previous coding experience. The academy plans to teach coding, design, marketing and professional skills to 1,000 students a year.
Apple said it is introducing two new investments in the venture capital and banking spaces. The projects are said “to address systemic barriers to access and funding faced by Black and Brown entrepreneurs,” and are designed “to provide capital to minority-owned businesses”. The American multinational technology company will invest $10 million with Harlem Capital – an early-stage New York-based venture capital firm. The project aims to help fund 1,000 companies over 20 years. Furthermore, the company said it would invest $25 million in Siebert Williams Shank’s Clear Vision Impact fund, which provides capital to small and medium-sized businesses.
“There’s a lack of diversity among venture capital and banking funders,” Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, told Reuters. “We looked for where we thought there was opportunity for our resources to do good things.”
The new projects are part of Apple’s $100 million racial equity and justice initiative revealed last June after the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, two Black people killed by police. The initiative, led by Jackson, focuses on promoting racial equity in education, the economy, and the criminal justice system.
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