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Apple recently announced an additional $30 million commitment to expanding racial justice initiatives.
In June 2020, Apple launched the Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI), a long-term effort by the tech giant to help cultivate the next generation of diverse and inclusive leadership through strategic efforts to support communities of color. With an initial $100 million pledge, Apple committed to bolstering education, economic equality, and criminal justice reform. One of the initiatives is the Propel Center, a global innovation and learning hub for HBCUs. Another is the Apple Developer Academy to support coding and tech education for students in Detroit. Venture capital and funding for Black and Brown entrepreneurs is also available through the "Entrepreneur Camp for Black Founders and Developers," whose 2022 application just opened.
Alisha Johnson, Director of Apple's REJI, spoke about the initiative previously, saying, "As a company, we have always been rooted in technology that can change the world. We're really committed to applying our resources [and] the innovation we pride ourselves on towards helping to create a more inclusive tech sector... We're working to support talented Black entrepreneurs and technologists and strengthen those pathways to economic opportunity."
Now, the tech company has announced an additional $30 million toward expanding the REJI initiative that will support "equity-focused solutions across the academic and advocacy landscapes," Johnson told Because Of Them We Can.
The new projects under the expansion include a Global (HSI) Equity Innovation Hub in partnership with California State University (CSU). There are also additions to the HBCU C2 initiatives that include 11 new schools including Clark Atlanta, Florida A&M, and Texas Southern. Recently, Apple also announced a new cohort of Hispanic/Latinx founders and developers for its Entrepreneur Camp, as well as funding for those advocating for criminal justice reform and environmental justice.
The new initiatives will help equip learners with skills necessary for high-demand careers, expand community coding centers and regional hubs on HBCU campuses to 45 across the country, extending to partnerships with K-12 schools and community/government partners. They've expanded the Propel Center offerings for HBCU students, including a new extensive virtual platform, and invested in several organizations fighting for racial justice, including the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, The Council on Criminal Justice, Innocence Project, and the Vera Institute of Justice.
"Equity and inclusion are among our core values at Apple, and we understand the importance of our actions matching our words. Our company and the people within it truly want to make a difference and play an integral role in the urgent work of creating a more equitable world that combats systematic racism and barriers to opportunity. Our REJI program is a long-term effort and shows our ongoing commitment to enduring change and supporting communities that have been discriminated against for way too long and deserve better," said Johnson.
While Apple has been doing work in education and equity spaces for some time now, the new commitments will help deepen the work, expand their partnerships and establish new career pathway opportunities for students and communities of color. Johnson said she hopes that through their efforts, they can continue "building a more inclusive and representative tech sector where equitable access and opportunity is the standard."
"The call to build a more just and equitable world is an urgent one, and at Apple, we feel a collective responsibility to help drive progress forward. The commitments we're sharing will help the young leaders of today and tomorrow start new businesses, develop groundbreaking innovations, and inspire countless others to join the fight for justice. We're grateful to all of the trailblazing organizations we're partnering with for their tireless dedication to equity as we work toward a better future together," said Tim Cook, CEO of Apple.
To learn more about Apple's REJI initiative, click here. If you are a Black founder or developer and want to apply to the 2022 Entrepreneur camp, click here. The deadline for applications is November 28th.
Alisha Johnson, Director of Apple's REJI Initiative. Photo Courtesy of Alisha Johnson/Apple