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Apple Inc on Wednesday said it was putting $60 million into a fresh round of projects aimed at challenging systemic racism, including its first foray into venture capital funding to back entrepreneurs of color.

Apple said it would invest $10 million in a fund with Harlem Capital, a New York-based early-stage venture firm, with the goal of helping fund 1,000 companies over 20 years.

Apple will invest $25 million in Siebert Williams Shank’s Clear Vision Impact Fund, which provides financing to small- and mid-sized businesses, with an emphasis on minority-owned firms.

Apple will become a limited partner in funds at both.

“There’s a lack of diversity among venture capital and banking funders,” Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, told Reuters. “We looked for where we thought there was opportunity for our resources to do good things.”

The efforts are part of Apple’s $100 million racial equality and justice initiative announced last year after the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, two Black people killed by police.

Apple is contributing $25 million to the Propel Center, a 50,000-square-foot facility in Atlanta where historically Black colleges and universities will collaborate on programs in entrepreneurship, app development and other topics. The iPhone maker is establishing two grant programs to help design curriculum in silicon and hardware engineering for historically Black schools.

Apple will also establish an app development academy in Detroit, its first in the United States. The academy provides a free 10-to-12-month course and will aim to teach 1,000 students a year skills in coding, design and marketing. The facility in Detroit will work with Michigan State University.

“We wanted to see more Black and brown developers,” Jackson said, noting that Apple has long worked with historically Black schools. “They tend to be focusing on the southeastern part of the United States. But Detroit has over 50,000 small businesses that are owned by Black and brown people. And so it seemed to us that there was an entrepreneurial opportunity.”

News Source: newsbrig.com

Tags: historically black schools the united states venture capital black and brown facility

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Bureaucrats Improperly Raided Millions From Public Health Research Fund In Leadup To COVID-19, Inspector General Finds

Federal bureaucrats improperly raided millions of dollars from a public health emergency fund to spend on unrelated expenses, an investigation by the inspector general of the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) reportedly found. 

The money was taken from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), according to The Washington Post. BARDA is a part of HHS that researches and develops vaccines, drugs and other therapies to combat public health issues. 

Federal officials repeatedly raided a biomedical research fund to spend millions on unrelated salaries, expenses, even removing office furniture, the inspector general found. https://t.co/p533ch5rp9 Scoop with @Reinlwapo

— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) January 27, 2021

The investigation was reportedly spawned by a whistleblower who alleged that the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response within HHS had been improperly using funds from 2010-2019 under both the Obama and Trump administrations. 

The inspector general’s investigation substantiated many of the allegations from the whistleblower, the Post reported. It was reportedly concluded that the agency violated the Purpose Statute, which is meant to ensure that funds allocated by Congress to federal agencies are only used for particular purposes. (RELATED: Biden’s Energy Nominee Divvied Millions In Taxpayer Funds To Alternative Energy Startups That Went Bankrupt)

A specific dollar amount for the money that was improperly used is not available, but the inspector general’s office told the Post they are “confident” the number is in the millions. The inspector general’s office reportedly said that the agency “would likely fail” to justify how $517 million in management and administration funds were used during the decade in question. 

The investigation also found that BARDA spent nearly a million dollars between 2013 and 2017 on salaries for employees that did not work there, the Post reported. Another reported impropriety was that BARDA had spent money on having furniture removed from an office that did not belong to them. 

The investigation was overseen by the Office of Special Counsel, which sent a letter to President Joe Biden Wednesday.

“I am deeply concerned about [the] apparent misuse of millions of dollars in funding meant for public health emergencies like the one our country is currently facing with the COVID-19 pandemic,” special counsel Henry Kerner wrote. “Equally concerning is how widespread and well-known this practice appeared to be.”

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