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Apple CEO Tim Cook. Screenshot: via Twitter

Apple CEO Tim Cook on Thursday announced a $100 million project focused on the systemic barriers to opportunity and dignity faced by the black community, with special emphasis on education, economic equality and criminal justice reform.

Why it matters: While many tech companies have talked about the need for more work in the area, Apple's large check appears to be a more substantial move.

Details:

  • The effort will begin in the U.S., then expand internationally over time.
  • It will be led by Lisa Jackson, the former EPA administrator who has led Apple's environmental efforts for the last several years.
  • Apple is also addressing internal issues, promising to boost its hiring of underrepresented minorities and increase its spending with black-owned suppliers.

Cook made the announcement in an impassioned video posted to Twitter, reflecting on his childhood, growing up in Alabama during the civil rights movement.

"The only thing that ever made lasting and durable change was people of goodwill putting aside comfort and safety to speak up, to march, to call for accountability and to do what they could to make a flawed society more perfect. So it is today."
— Tim Cook

The big picture: The tech industry remains heavily white and Asian, with most large companies struggling to live up to their own goals around diversity. According to its most recent diversity report, underrepresented groups made up 24% of Apple's U.S. workforce and 31% of new hires.

  • Those numbers reflect Apple's more diverse retail staff. Fewer black and Latino workers are in its engineering ranks, and its executive suite is nearly all white.

Meanwhile: Also on Thursday, YouTube announced its own $100 million project aimed at supporting the black community.

  • The Google-owned video platform is establishing a fund in that amount to underwrite original programming and other efforts aimed at "amplifying and developing the voices of Black creators and artists," CEO Susan Wojcicki said in a blog post.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated Sep 15, 2020 - Technology

Apple updates Apple Watch and iPad models, adds fitness service

Screenshot: Axios via Apple.com

Apple on Tuesday unveiled new iPad and Apple Watch models, as well as a new fitness service and Apple One, which bundles the company's main services for one monthly price.

Context: Apple has launched new iPhones in September in the past, but production issues have flipped the script this year and the new smartphones are expected to be unveiled at a second event, likely next month.

Pakistan PM will "absolutely not" allow CIA to use bases for Afghanistan operations

Pakistan will "absolutely not" allow the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to use bases on its soil for cross-border counterterrorism missions after American forces withdraw from Afghanistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan tells "Axios on HBO" in a wide-ranging interview airing Sunday at 6 pm ET.

Why it matters: The quality of counterterrorism and intelligence capabilities in Afghanistan is a critical question facing the Biden administration as U.S. forces move closer to total withdrawal by Sept. 11.