Apple Announces ‘Racial Equity and Justice’ Education Initiatives to Combat ‘Systemic Racism’

Tim Cook
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced Wednesday the tech giant will be combatting “systemic racism” and advancing “racial equity nationwide” with two new school projects launched under its “Racial Equity and Justice Initiative” (REJI) project.

Apple has committed $100 million to its REJI project “to help dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and combat injustices faced by communities of color,” the press release stated.

The company’s efforts will include the Propel Center, a “learning hub” for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and an Apple Developer Academy, which expects to “support coding and tech education for students in Detroit.

Apple said its projects will “help build the next generation of diverse leaders.”

Cook said in a statement:

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. 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,” Cook said.

Apple announced the REJI project following the protests, looting, and rioting that occurred in the United States following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others.

“Every individual deserves equal access to opportunity regardless of skin color or zip code,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives.

She added:

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 Propel Center was designed by Ed Farm, an education social justice group that works primarily with Birmingham City Schools and adults in the greater Birmingham area. Its key partners are Apple and Alabama Power.

Ed Farm says the Propel Center “is a physical and virtual campus imagined and designed … to provide Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with shared services to support their work of preparing leaders who improve our word [sic].”

“The Propel Center will help cultivate leadership and drive innovation in tech and beyond, acting as a springboard for change in communities across America,” Ed Farm founder Anthony Oni said in a statement.

The mission of the Propel Center is to provide “innovative curricula” to HBCU’s in order to train black students in leadership skills. Included in the curricula will be artificial intelligence (AI), agricultural technologies, social justice, entertainment arts, career preparation, and entrepreneurship.

Apple says its experts will help develop the curricula and provide mentorship and learning support.

The Apple Developer Academy in Detroit, a joint effort with Michigan State University, aims “to empower young Black entrepreneurs, creators, and coders, helping them cultivate the skills necessary for jobs in the rapidly growing iOS app economy,” the press statement says.

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