Apple’s Big Announcement: Where It’s Spending That $100 Million In Racial Equity Investments

Published on January 13, 2021

Apple founder Tim Cook appeared in an interview with CBS’ Gayle King to discuss the company’s future in investing in racial equity in the United States. In the interview, Cook discussed where Apple will be investing its $100 million pledge toward racial equity, as well as what the future of apps like Parler look like within the company’s App Store.

Last summer Apple promised to invest $100 million into racial equity in the United States but didn’t say exactly where. Researchers for the company have spent the last seven months determining where the money should be spent, which is what Cook announced in the Wednesday morning interview with CBS. Cook revealed that Apple will be spending $25 million on its Propel Center, a racial equity initiative that will bring a physical campus to Atlanta University, along with activations in other Historically Black Colleges and Universities around the United States.

“HBCUs have a history of turning out the leaders in our community,” said Apple VP Lisa Jackson in the interview with Gayle King on CBS Wednesday Morning. “The Propel Center will be a place for all HBCU students and the surrounding community. It’s a place for Apple and other companies to plug in to the HBCU talent pool. We know that the talent is already there, we know that these students are trying to do what every student does: propel themselves to a better future and a better life,” Jackson said.

Apple will also establish grants within HBCU’s to fund their engineering programs. The grants will help fund curriculum in the engineering field, as well as provide resources to faculty working in research and development. The company also plans to roll out additional scholarship programs to students at HBCU schools around the country.

“Building on its longstanding scholarship program with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, 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,” read a statement on Apple’s press release.

Also as part of the initiative, Apple will open its first developer academy in Downtown Detroit as part of an initiative to inspire students in Black communities to begin working in STEM careers—particularly in computer technology and development. The developer academy aims to help cultivate developer skills among Black students, and Apple says it chose Detroit as its first location because it already plays host to a vibrant community of Black-owned business owners, entrepreneurs and visionaries.

Cook credits his childhood as the reason behind the company’s inspiration for investing in racial equity. “Clearly, I think anybody that was alive in the periods of time that I’ve been alive in the 60s and 70s, and growing up in that period, you first-hand witnessed it. When I was five years old, John Lewis was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. When I was eight years old, the riots at Stonewall happened. Both of these changed the course of time and changed the course of my life,” Cook said in the interview.

The interview also touched on recent events, wherein Cook discussed last week’s violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the company’s decision to pull Parler, a popular social media app, from its App Store. “Parler has some issues with moderation. There are some incitements to violence examples on there. They need to step it up on the moderation. Our hope is that they do that and get back on the store,” Cook said of the company’s decision to pull Parler from its App Store. Cook later clarified that the company would put the app back up if it took care of its moderation issues—a move that CEO John Matze has not promised to do.

Of the insurrection on January 6th, Cook stated plainly that the level of violence exhibited at the U.S. Capitol is unacceptable. “I think it’s key that people be held accountable for it. This is not something that should skate. This is something we’ve got to be very serious about, and understand, and then we need to move forward,” Cook said.

You can watch the interview here.

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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