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Apple’s first major racial equity investments include a Detroit developer center and HBCU tech hub

Apple’s first major racial equity investments include a Detroit developer center and HBCU tech hub


Part of its $100 million racial equity commitment

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A render of the Propel Center.
A render of the Propel Center.
Image: Propel Center

Apple is announcing the next big investments to come out of its $100 million commitment to racial equity and justice today: the launch of an Apple Developer Academy in Detroit; founding support for an Atlanta tech hub for historically Black colleges and universities; and new grants, scholarships, and investments for Black and brown students and entrepreneurs.

The Apple Developer Academy in Detroit will be the “first of its kind in the US,” Apple wrote in a press release, after previously partnering on a similar program in Italy. The academy is focused on “young Black entrepreneurs, creators, and coders” and will offer training in iOS app development. The plan is to offer a shorter 30-day program that introduces students to “what it means to be a developer” and then to offer an “intensive” 10- to 12- month program meant to help aspiring developers gain relevant skills to get tech jobs or start their own businesses.

The Propel Center will offer in-person and online courses

Apple expects the academy to teach around 1,000 students each year. It’s supposed to open later in 2021.

In Atlanta, Apple is partnering to help launch the Propel Center, a tech-focused hub for HBCUs. The center will offer in-person and online courses focused on technology, entertainment, and business. It’ll be located in the Atlanta University Center that links four HBCUs — Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, Morehouse College, and the Morehouse School of Medicine. Apple and Southern Company, an Atlanta-based energy giant, will each contribute $25 million.

Other tech companies and major donors have made similar contributions to HBCUs over the past year. In September, IBM announced it was putting $100 million into technology, skill development, and other resources for HBCUs alongside the launch of an “IBM Quantum education and research initiative.” The same month, Michael Bloomberg announced plans to give $100 million to four historically Black medical schools, focused on easing student debt.

Apple also announced a number of new grants and investments today. It’s investing $10 million with Harlem Capital, a VC firm with the goal of “investing in 1,000 diverse founders over the next 20 years,” and $25 million in Siebert Williams Shank’s Clear Vision Impact Fund, which is focused on minority-owned businesses. Apple is launching grants for HBCU engineering programs and is expanding its scholarship program with a focus on underrepresented communities.

Today’s announcements are part of a $100 million commitment Apple made in June 2020, as companies across the US began reflecting on how they could better combat racism following the death of George Floyd and protests against police brutality. Apple VP Lisa Jackson was put in charge of the initiative, which was meant to “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 at the time.

Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and other tech giants have made similar pledges, putting millions of dollars toward racial equity initiatives.