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Apple launches $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative

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Apple launches $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Apple is launching a $100 million initiative to promote racial equality for people of color with a focus on “education, economic equality, and criminal justice reform.” The program, named Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, will be led by Apple VP Lisa Jackson.

“The initiative will challenge the systemic barriers to opportunity and dignity that exists for communities of color and particular for the black community,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a video today.

Cook said the initiative will lead to “changes that touch just about everything we do.”

As part of the initiative, Apple plans to increase its spending at black-owned partners across its supply chain and increase representation of black-owned partners. Apple also plans to launch a camp for black developers and entrepreneurs to help elevate the “best ideas in the developer family.”

Cook didn’t offer specifics in the video, but he said the initiative would expand Apple’s work with historically black colleges and universities as well as underserved students and teachers. The company also plans to work with the Equal Justice Initiative.

Apple plans to take “significant new steps” on diversity and inclusion within its own company, including hiring more developers from underrepresented groups. The Verge has reached out to Apple for more details on the initiative.

“Fighting for equality and justice for my community has driven my career as an environmentalist,” said Jackson, who was previously administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama. “I’ll continue the work leading Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative.”

Cook posted a note to Apple’s website last week titled “Speaking up on racism,” saying that “we must do more.” But the note received some criticism from activists who pointed out that Apple did not make actual commitments about what the company would actually do.

Other large tech companies have made statements and commitments about how they intend to fight racism, particularly against black communities, over the past week. Amazon committed to donating $10 million to social justice organizations; Facebook committed $10 million to groups working on racial justice; and Google promised $12 million in funding to organizations addressing racial inequities.

The commitments come in response to the death of George Floyd and the protests against police brutality that have risen up across the United States in response. Companies are now taking the Black Lives Matter movement’s urgent call for racial equality and justice far more seriously than they were just a few years ago, and they’ve begun acknowledging the need to fight anti-black racism at a systemic level.

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