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Apple CEO Tim Cook announces $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative

The iPhone maker is committed to being a force for change, Cook says.

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- 02:23
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James Martin/CNET

Apple CEO Tim Cook on Thursday said the iPhone maker is launching a Racial Equity and Justice Initiative with a $100 million commitment. The initiative will focus on issues including education, economic equality and criminal justice reform in order to "challenge the systemic barriers to opportunity and dignity that exist for communities of color, and particularly for the black community," Cook said. 

"The unfinished work of racial justice and equality call us all to account," Cook said in a tweet. "Things must change, and Apple's committed to being a force for that change. Today, I'm proud to announce Apple's Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, with a $100 million commitment."

Cook said Apple will bring a "holistic focus and company wide scale" to the initiative, and it will build on existing efforts around education and forge new partnerships with groups like the Equal Justice Initiative.

The effort will begin in the US and expand globally over time, Cook said. It's being led by Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, and former head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Cook said Apple will also take "significant new steps on diversity and inclusion within Apple" to hire, develop and support people from underrepresented groups, as well as efforts outside the company.

"In our supply chain and professional service partners, we're committed to increasing our total spending with black-owned partners and increasing representation across companies we do business with," he said.

Apple is one of several tech companies to speak out in support of protests around the country sparked by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, after a white police officer jammed a knee onto his neck for nearly nine minutes. 

On June 4, Apple posted an open letter from Cook to the top of its website speaking out on racism and pledging donations to organizations challenging "racial injustice and mass incarceration."

Cook on Thursday didn't specify the duration of the company's $100 million commitment. Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for more details. 

Google on June 3 said it's committing $12 million over two years to causes related to racial equity. Amazon on May 31 said it'll donate $10 million to racial justice initiatives, including the NAACP, Black Lives Matter, the Equal Justice Initiative and the United Negro College Fund. Several other tech giants -- including Facebook, Microsoft and Verizon -- have pledged funds to groups working on racial justice.

Black Lives Matter. Visit blacklivesmatter.carrd.co to learn how to donate, sign petitions and protest safely.