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Apple says it will spend $100 million to promote diversity and racial equality

Kara Carlson, Austin American-Statesman on

Published in Business News

As Apple continues its rapid growth in Austin, the tech giant says it is strengthening its national investments in education, technology and venture funding programs as part of a goal to combat injustice faced by communities of color.

The donations are part of a $100 million racial equity and justice Initiative, which is designed to help reduce barriers and opportunities for people of color across the country. The programs are the first the company has named as part of the initiative since it was first announced in June, as social justice protests erupted around the country.

“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,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a written statement. "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."

Apple will contribute to the Propel Center, an Atlanta-based innovation and learning hub for historically black colleges and universities, will found a Detroit-based Apple developer academy to support coding and tech education, and will invest in New York-based Harlem Capital, which focuses on diverse entrepreneurs.

Apple said the initiative will complement the company's internal efforts to improve diversity and inclusion.

Apple said in its latest diversity report that 53% of new hires in the U.S. are from historically underrepresented groups in tech including women and people who identify as Black, Hispanic, Native American or Native Hawaiian & Other Pacific Islander.

 

As of 2018, the company reported that 45% of its tech employees were white, 35% were Asian, 8% Hispanic, 6% Black, 2% multiracial and 1% Native American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander. The company said 77% of its tech workforce is male.

Apple's new initiative comes as the company's presence in Austin rapidly grows. Austin is Apple's largest hub outside of its California headquarters and the company has significantly increased its investment in the area in recent year. Currently, it has about 7,000 employees in the area, a number that has grown more than 50% in the past five years.

In November 2019, the tech giant also broke ground on a new campus as part of its expansion locally. The $1 billion, 3 million-square-foot campus will initially house 5,000 employees when it opens in 2022 and have the capacity to grow to 15,000, according to the company.

While none of the initiatives announced Wednesday are directly tied to Austin, Apple does work on other diversity-related initiatives with Austin ties, including work on college and K-12 levels. The Propel Center will also act as a national resource and Harlem Capital invests in companies nationally.

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