Apple Commits $50 Million To Increasing Diversity In Technology

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For years, there has always been a significant lack of diversity when it comes to Silicon Valley. Apple wants to be one of the first companies to change that.

The tech giant’s human resources chief, Denise Young Smith, revealed to Fortune that the company is aligning itself with some nonprofit organizations, aiming to increase the amount of women, minorities, and veterans working in technology.

“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,” Young Smith explained.

The focus will be on women and minorities for now, but Young Smith said that they’d like to see diversity in every area, from lifestyle to sexual orientation. That hits close to home, considering Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, became the first openly gay active leader of a Fortune 500 company.

One partnership will be with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a nonprofit that supports students at public, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), with the likes of Howard University and North Carolina AT&T State University among the institutions. There are 100 HBCUs around the U.S., but only 47 are public.

HBCUs are responsible for nearly 20% of African American graduates who now hold undergraduate degrees.

Apple is contributing $40 million to the Fund to provide for the training of students and faculty, as well as a paid internship opportunity for students who perform very well.

TMCF’s president and CEO, Johnny Taylor, praised the new partnership: “Historically, other organizations have provided scholarship dollars or focused on whatever area matters most to them. What differentiates this partnership with Apple is that it hits on everything that we do—it is the most comprehensive program ever offered to an HBCU organization.”

Apple’s second partnership will be with the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), an organization that has worked with Apple before. This time around, their alliance is on a much larger scale. It’s a long-term effort, with $10 million being used over the next four years to increase the amount of students who benefit from NCWIT internships and scholarships, as well as providing access for middle school students.

“A lot of actitivies are one and done, but this is a longitudinal experience throughout the pipeline,” NCWIT CEO and cofounder Lucy Sanders said.

Although a dollar amount hasn’t been committed yet, Apple also plans on funding training programs for veterans, in partnership with military leaders.

“In any of these programs we’re really trying to provide focus, impact and a ripple effect–not just on Apple,” Young Smith said.

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