As part of its own efforts in promoting diversity in the technology industry, top American tech company Apple has revealed plans to donate over $40 million to historical black colleges and universities to help gifted students become key players in the industry.
The company’s human resources head, Denise Young Smith, told Fortune Magazine in an interview that the money will be assigned to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Young Smith, who is the product of an HBCU herself, said the financial assistance aims at creating opportunities for candidates from minority groups to land their first job at Apple, noting that diversity and inclusiveness are essential for the company going forward.
Thurgood Marshall College Fund is a non-profit body which provides assistance to students in public, historically black colleges and universities – simply referred to as HBCUs. These educational institutions include Grambling State (from where Young Smith earned her first degree), Howard University, and North Carolina AT&T State University. There are around 100 HBCUs in the United States, with 47 of these being public institutions. These colleges and universities produce about 20 percent of students of black origin who obtain undergraduate degrees.
The Apple fund will be used to set up a database of students majoring in computer science in public HBCUs. It will also be used to provide training to both students and faculty members, as well as provide scholarships to qualifying students. In addition, a paid internship program will be launched to provide talented HBCU students an opportunity to have a shot at an Apple career.
Thurgood Marshall College Fund President and Chief Executive Johnny Taylor was understandably very excited by the tech company’s gesture, describing the partnership as “the most comprehensive program ever offered to an HBCU organization.”
“People are at Harvard and MIT looking for their students,” Taylor said, according to Fortune Magazine. “But Apple said, there are some really talented individuals at these [HBCU] schools.”
In a related development, the American tech giant is also working to promote gender diversity in the tech industry which is evidenced by its new agreement with another non-profit known as the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), a company they’d worked with previously.
NCWIT co-founder and CEO Lucy Saunders revealed that Apple has promised to provide the organization with around $10 million in new funding. The money will be used to greatly increase the non-profit’s scholarship and internship support for female undergraduates and to assist about 10,000 girls in middle schools for the next few years.