CBS This Morning on Tuesday teased a “big announcement” from Apple this morning, and Apple has certainly lived up to that tease this morning, announcing a number of new projects as part of its $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI) designed to “help dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and combat injustices 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,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “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. We are honored to help bring this vision to bear, and to match our words and actions to the values of equity and inclusion we have always prized at Apple.”
The initiative – which will work to advance racial equity in education, the economy, and the criminal justice system – is led by Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, Lisa Jackson.
“Every individual deserves equal access to opportunity regardless of skin color or zip code,” said Jackson. “For too long, communities of color have faced gross injustices and institutional barriers to their pursuit of the American dream, and we are proud to lend our voices and resources to build new engines of opportunity that empower, inspire, and create meaningful change.”
The projects include the Propel Center. Apple is working with Southern Company and a range of community stakeholders to support the launch of the Propel Center, a first-of-its-kind innovation and learning hub for the HBCU community.
Apple is contributing $25 million, which will enable the Propel Center to support HBCU students and faculty through a robust virtual platform, a physical campus in the historic Atlanta University Center, as well as on-campus activations at partner institutions.
The center is designed to support the next generation of diverse leaders, providing innovative curricula, technology support, career opportunities, and fellowship programs. The Propel Center will offer a wide range of educational tracks, including AI and machine learning, agricultural technologies, social justice, entertainment arts, app development, augmented reality, design and creative arts, career preparation, and entrepreneurship. Experts from Apple will help develop curricula and provide ongoing mentorship and learning support, along with offering internship opportunities.
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Apple on this extraordinary project,” said Anthony Oni, Ed Farm’s founder and chairman of the board, and a vice president at Southern Company. “The Propel Center will help cultivate leadership and drive innovation in tech and beyond, acting as a springboard for change in communities across America.”
Apple is also establishing two new grants to support HBCU engineering programs. Apple’s new Innovation Grants will help HBCU Colleges of Engineering develop their silicon and hardware engineering curriculum in partnership with Apple’s experts. The new Faculty Fellows Program will support HBCU educators pursuing R&D with mentorship programs, curriculum development assistance, and funds to equip their lab spaces.
Apple is also now offering scholarships to 100 new Apple Scholars from underrepresented communities. In addition to financial support, the Apple Scholars program includes mentorship and career development experience at Apple.
Apple Developer Academy
Later this year, Apple will open an Apple Developer Academy in Detroit — the first of its kind in the US.
The academy is designed to empower young Black entrepreneurs, creators, and coders, helping them cultivate the skills necessary for jobs in the rapidly growing iOS app economy.
The academy is being launched in collaboration with Michigan State University, Apple Developer Academy courses will be open to all learners across Detroit, regardless of their academic background or whether they have any previous coding experience.
A 30-day introductory program is designed for learners who are considering app economy careers and looking to better understand what it means to be a developer.
A full academy program is a 10- to 12-month program designed to help aspiring developers build the skills needed to participate in the iOS app economy and even start their own businesses.
The academy’s programming is expected to reach close to 1,000 students each year with a curriculum that covers coding, design, marketing, and professional skills.
New Funding Partnerships
Apple also announced two new investments in the venture capital and banking spaces, designed to provide capital to minority-owned businesses.
The Cupertino company will invest $10 million with early-stage venture capital firm Harlem Capital to support its investments in 1,000 companies with diverse founders over the next 20 years. Harlem Capital will also lend its expertise to Apple’s broader efforts to advance access to economic opportunity, offering guidance for Apple’s broader efforts to advance access to economic opportunity.
The company will also invest $25 million in Siebert Williams Shank’s Clear Vision Impact Fund, which provides capital to small and medium-sized businesses, with an emphasis on minority-owned companies.
Apple is also making a contribution to The King Center, to share King’s teachings and to inspire new generations to carry on Dr. King’s unfinished work.