Earlier this week, Apple revealed details of its $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI) which includes a “first-of-its-kind global innovation and learning hub for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), an Apple Developer Academy to support coding and tech education for students in Detroit; and venture capital funding for Black and Brown entrepreneurs,” according to a statement released by the tech giant.
“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,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.
HBCU’s will be directly supported through a $25 million contribution from Apple and an additional $25 million in funding from Southern Company to build the Propel Center which the company describes as “a first-of-its-kind innovation and learning hub for the HBCU community…[that will] support HBCU students and faculty through a robust virtual platform, a physical campus in the historic Atlanta University Center, as well as on-campus activations at partner institutions.”
In addition to providing learning opportunities in artificial intelligence, agricultural tech, social justice, entertainment arts, app development, augmented reality, design and creative arts, career preparation, and entrepreneurship, Apple’s experts will offer mentorship and learning support to Propel Center students.
The Propel Center, which will be housed at the Atlanta University Center — a consortium of HBCUs made up of Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse University, Morehouse School of Medicine, Morris Brown, and Spelman College — is the brainchild of Ed Farm, a non-profit focused on innovation and equality in education. Both Apple and Ed Farm already have ongoing partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities from across the United States.
“The Propel Center will help cultivate leadership and drive innovation in tech and beyond, acting as a springboard for change in communities across America, said Anthony Oni, Ed Farm’s founder. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Apple on this extraordinary project.” Oni is also vice president of corporate communications at Southern Co.
Apple’s announcement also included the rollout of two new grant programs designed to increase outcomes for students and educators in STEM fields, with an emphasis on engineering. The Innovation Grants will allow HBCU Colleges of Engineering to partner with Apple’s workforce to develop “silicon and hardware engineering curriculum. Additionally, the company’s Faculty Fellows Program will “support HBCU educators pursuing R&D with mentorship programs, curriculum development assistance, and funds to equip their lab spaces.”
The ubiquitous company expects to impact thousands of HBCU students and teachers as well as minority entrepreneurs through the Racial Equity and Justice Initiative. More information about the program can be found here.