In an effort to improve diversity within the tech community, Apple is donating over $50 million to a pair of organizations working to get more women and minorities working in the tech industry. In an interview with Fortune, Apple's HR chief Denise Young Smith revealed that the company has partnered with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the National Center for Women and Information Technology to help improve diversity within the pipeline of talent coming into Apple, and throughout the industry. "We wanted to create opportunities for minority candidates to get their first job at Apple," Young told Fortune. "In any of these programs we’re really trying to provide focus, impact, and a ripple effect — not just on Apple."
The Thurgood Marshall College Fund — which will receive over $40 million from Apple — is a non-profit that supports students in historically black colleges and universities (HBCU). The fund will be used to create a database of computer science majors at the 106 HBCUs across the country and train students and teachers. Apple is also starting a paid internship program for top students at the schools. HBCUs are notoriously underfunded, making Apple's donation all the more useful.
"The $50 million university grant announced today is a start."
Apple is also partnering with the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) to double the number of college graduates supported by the organization. Apple will donate nearly $10 million over the next four years to NCWIT, the largest donation the organization has received to date. NCWIT CEO Lucy Sanders told Fortune Apple's commitment goes further than most corporate partners, who usually just want to cut a check for the good press. "A lot of activities are one and done, but this is a longitudinal experience throughout the pipeline," Apple is also taking to the military to find out the best way to provide technology training and other benefits for veterans, but the company has not said how much money it will put toward the issue.
Speaking at Apple's shareholder meeting today, Rev. Jesse Jackson said that Apple and CEO Tim Cook are headed in the right direction with its focus on diversity and inclusion. "Tim, I believe you and Apple have the vision, commitment, and courage to help usher in a new era of diversity and inclusion," Jackson said. "The $50 million university grant announced today is a start."