Apple Announces Over $50 Million Diversity Investment

To improve diversity and support minorities pursuring STEM careers and to subsequently improve its own minority numbers, Apple has announced plans to invest in Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority programs.

Shortly before the latest Apple Live event where the company announced its first foray into the wearable category with the Apple Watch, Denise Young Smith, Apple’s human resources chief (and HBCU Alum) announced via an exclusive interview with Fortune Magazine that Apple will be working with the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund to invest $40 Million dollars over several years into HBCU’s. In the interview, Young Smith stated that this investment is apart of Apple’s diversity initiatives that’s focused on expanding its pipeline of minorities, women, and veterans into technology fields.

“We wanted to create opportunities for minority candidates to get their first job at Apple.” “There is tremendous upside to that and we are dogged about the fact that we can’t innovate without being diverse and inclusive.”

In an interview with NewsOne Now, Johnny C. Taylor President and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund went over the specifics of the investment that includes creating a database of computer science majors at HBCU’s, provide scholarships and interships for students. As a warning, Taylor also stated that unlike similar efforts have been diluted and used for other expenses, every penny of the $40 Million will go directly to the students.

“Too often these announcements go out and part of the money goes to HBCUs and part of the money goes else where. Every one of these dollars will go to HBCU students for internships, scholarships, first time gigs, first time jobs, also to our faculty because people often times forget the HBCU faculty are the ones who are responsible for preparing these students for getting into these competitive responsible roles.”

Apple will also be working with the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) to help bolster the amount of women getting into technology fields. Apple will contribute $10 Million that will be spread out over the next four years. The funds and help the NCWIT spark interest in STEM interest for minority middle-school girls, as well as help the organization provide scholarships to four-year-degree recipients.

This may be some old news because last week is light years in web time, but it wasn’t covered by too many “mainstream” tech sites *Sits back in chair, rubs chin and rhetorically wonders why*. Since this hits close to home (I’m a product of an HBCU…Shoutout to all my TSU Tigers), I want to make sure this gets the proper love.

I can also speak personally to lack of options HBCU students majoring in engineering and computer-science have when it comes to internships with top technology companies. Don’t get me wrong, there are companies willing to work with HBCU’s to mold under grads and newly graduated to get into tech positions, but minority graduate’s options are no where near their counterparts who choose Ivy League schools. I could be biased, but the intelligence at HBCU’s is on par with other top-tier schools, so the opportunities should be as well.

Apple investing in HBCU’s at this magnitude, reportedly the most comprehensive program ever offered to an HBCU organization could possibly encourage other tech giants to invest, as well as come out of their comfort zone and look for potential employees everywhere…Not just a few “familiar” colleges and universities.

That old “we just can seem to find qualified minorities” excuse may be just a little harder to use now (just a little).

What do you think? Is this a solid effort on the part of Apple, or can it and other tech companies do more to include diversity in its ranks?

Via: Fortune Magazine | News One Now

Image via Tennessee State University