Apple Doubles to $200 Million Its Support for Racial Equity
Apple announced this week that it has more than doubled its support of racial equity causes after initially pledging to spend $100 million in the weeks after George Floyd’s police murder in 2020.
Through its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, Apple has distributed more than $200 million, to support organizations focused on education, economic growth, and criminal justice. Half the money is in the form of philanthropy grants; the other half in investments focused on equity.
The announcement comes as many racial justice nonprofits have raised
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Apple announced this week that it has more than doubled its support of racial-equity nonprofits after initially pledging to spend $100 million in the weeks after George Floyd’s police murder in 2020.
Through its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, Apple has distributed more than $200 million to support organizations focused on education, economic growth, and criminal justice. Half the money is in the form of philanthropy grants; the other half in investments focused on equity.
The announcement comes as many racial-justice nonprofits have raised concerns that foundations and corporations have not kept up the pace of philanthropic support since the protests against systemic racism in 2020.
But Apple officials said they hoped to demonstrate their continuing commitment.
“We’re thinking about how to ingrain this work and ensure that it’s operationalized, versus just making a statement or dropping funding and walking away,” says Alisha Johnson Wilder, director of Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative.
While the company, which is valued at $2.9 trillion, said the total support for its racial-justice efforts would be more than $200 million, it didn’t spell out how all the funding would be allocated.
It said it was committing an undisclosed amount to My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a program of the Obama Foundation, to train 500 mentors to connect young men of color to educational and career opportunities. And it said it was funding organizations in Australia, Britain, and Mexico.
Of the funding amounts it did disclose, the company said $50 million went to two organizations that aid colleges and universities focused on educating Black and Latino students.
One of the grantees, the Propel Center, is helping students and faculty at historically Black colleges and universities use technology in innovative ways. For example, it awarded $300,000 to Delaware State University last year to create a farm inside a 40-foot shipping container, giving students experience in sustainable agriculture and creating a healthy source of food.
Waymond Jackson Jr., interim CEO of the Propel Center, says the grant enabled the organization to help frequently overlooked colleges. It is now working with 75 percent of the historically black colleges in the United States, he says.
“Oftentimes, some of the ones that are smaller, that might be in rural areas, are not getting the resources they need,” he says. “And so we leverage partnerships with a broader ecosystem of HBCUs to bring them the needed resources.”
The Global HSI Equity Innovation Hub, housed at California State University Northridge, received the other half of the $50 million gift from Apple. In December, the innovation hub awarded $2 million to Northridge and other California State University schools to train students, most of them Hispanic, to join the biotechnology industry and to help formerly incarcerated people attain careers in computer science.
Amanda Quintero, who oversees the hub, says that Apple has provided support and advice to students and colleges that goes beyond the money.
“The financial resources help make this possible,” she says. “But beyond that, it’s just been the ability to have thought partners and experts at the table who many folks in higher education just would not have access to.”
While Apple also gives directly to colleges and universities, Wilder says it prioritized funding to centers that are technology- and career-development focused to have a wider reach.
Apple also gave an undisclosed amount to criminal-justice organizations such as the Anti-Recidivism Coalition and Defy Ventures, which educate incarcerated people and help them re-enter society when they are released. One grantee, Recidiviz, is partnering with government agencies to use data to help reduce the number of incarcerated people.
Corporate investments make up half of Apple’s commitment.
Since 2020, Apple has awarded more than $100 million to support Black, Latino, and Indigenous entrepreneurs. The company funded three approaches: venture capital to entrepreneurs of color, loan capital to minority-owned businesses, and cash deposits to mission-driven financial institutions. Apple announced it will give an additional $25 million to three venture-capital funds — Collab Capital, Harlem Capital, and VamosVentures — which invest in businesses owned by people of color.
Cisco’s HBCU Effort
Apple’s announcement comes as other businesses and foundations are releasing news and updates to racial-justice commitments.
Another technology giant, Cisco, this week released an update on its racial-equity philanthropy, championing its $150 million commitment to historically Black colleges and universities. Since 2021, the networking, cloud computing, and cybersecurity solutions company has donated $25 million to support the Student Freedom Initiative, whose endowment finances the education of HBCU students. Another $61 million has gone toward building cybersecurity systems for HBCUs.
Nonprofit advocates express continuing concerns, however, that corporate and foundation gifts will not be maintained after the recent surge of racial-equity pledges.
Lori Villarosa, executive director of the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity, says while Apple and other corporations should consider funding more groups focused on systemic change rather than solely on direct services, the continued giving is positive.
“We recognize the limitations of that giving, but compared to some of what we’re seeing — the pullback even from that — this is at least encouraging,” she says. “Because the statements, the levels of commitment have waned.”
Reporting for this article was underwritten by a Lilly Endowment grant to enhance public understanding of philanthropy. The Chronicle is solely responsible for the content. See more about the Chronicle, the grant, how our foundation-supported journalism works, and our gift-acceptance policy.