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Apple’s big news today is how it’ll start spending its $100m Racial Equity fund


Apple has revealed the next set of its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative projects, with the company planning to establish a coding academy in Detroit, a new innovation and learning hub focusing on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and a venture capital fund for traditionally overlooked entrepreneurs. It’s part of a $100 million commitment Apple made to push back against systemic racism, barriers to opportunity, and injustice faced by communities of color.

“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,” Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, said today of the project announcements. “We’re launching REJI’s latest initiatives with partners across a broad range of industries and backgrounds – from students to teachers, developers to entrepreneurs, and community organizers to justice advocates – working together to empower communities that have borne the brunt of racism and discrimination for far too long.”

One of those new projects is the Propel Center, a collaboration between Apple and Southern Company along with other community stakeholders. Combining both a physical campus at Atlanta University Center with on-campus activities at partner institutions, along with a virtual platform, it’ll focus on students of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Apple will spend $25 million to help fund new curricula development, technology support, fellowship programs, and career opportunities. It’ll span everything from familiar topics to the tech firm such as AI and machine learning, augmented reality, app development, and design, through to agricultural technologies, social justice, and entertainment and creative arts.

The Propel Center will also focus on career preparation and entrepreneurship, while Apple experts will offer mentorship and internship opportunities. Apple plans to offer 100 scholarships to new Apple Scholars from underrepresented communities.

Later in 2021, meanwhile, there’ll be the first Apple Developer Academy. Launching in Detroit, in collaboration with Michigan State University, it’ll offer a series of classes open to anybody in Detroit, whether they’ve coded or not, and regardless of academic background.

Two programs have been developed for the Academy. The first is a 30-day introductory program, to give potential new developers an insight into what’s involved in making a career out of it. The 10- to 12-month full program includes all the iOS training required, along with business-focused advice on starting a company. Apple expects nearly 1,000 students to complete the programming each year.

Among the other projects being funded is a $10 million investment into Harlem Capital, a venture capital fund that focus on companies with diverse founders. “In addition to providing capital to entrepreneurs of color, Harlem Capital will also lend its expertise to Apple’s broader efforts to advance access to economic opportunity,” Apple said today of the partnership. “The firm will offer guidance and mentorship to students at the Detroit Developer Academy and participants in Apple’s Entrepreneur Camp for Black Founders and Developers. Apple will also support Harlem Capital’s internship program, focused on opening doors for aspiring women and minority investors.”

Apple launched the Racial Equity and Justice Initiative in June 2020, as part of the company’s commitment to change after the killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others. Although Apple had – like many tech firms – already been doing some outreach and support to community projects, the REJI established a far more structured process within which the company could make multi-million dollar investments.

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