Apple gets Serious About Diversity in Tech Jobs with $50M Donation

Apple is getting serious about promoting diversity in the tech market by donating more than US$50 million to organizations dedicated to helping minorities and women find jobs at tech companies. The money is going to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the National Center for Women and Information Technology, and the iPhone and iPad maker is also looking for ways to get tech industry training to military veterans.

Apple celebrated workplace diversity last year in a 2014 reportApple celebrated workplace diversity last year in a 2014 report

In an interview with Fortune, Apple's vice president of Worldwide Human Resources Denise Young Smith said more than $40 million is going to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to build a database of computer science majors attending about 100 colleges and universities across the United States that have historically been considered black schools, to train students and teachers, and offer scholarships and paid internships.

Ms. Young Smith said,

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.

TMCF CEO Johnny Taylor said the partnership with Apple goes beyond simply handing over money and that it touches everything the organization does. "It is the most comprehensive program ever offered to an HBCU organization," he said.

About $10 million will go to the National Center for Women and Information Technology over the next four years to help double the number of college graduates the organization can support, and to reach out to more than 10,000 middle school girls. Apple's donation will be the largest the organization has received so far.

NCWIT CEO Lucy Sanders praised Apple's investment and involvement saying, "A lot of actitivies are one and done, but this is a longitudinal experience throughout the pipeline."

According to Ms. Young Smith, Apple is taking a "thoughtful" approach to stimulating workplace diversity efforts by focusing on how its dollars are spent instead of simply how big its donations are. "We're really trying to provide focus, impact and a ripple effect–not just on Apple," she said.

Apple is also talking with the military to find ways to find ways to give veterans technology training and to create specialized programs to get veterans into tech-related jobs. Details from those talks aren't yet available.