Apple Joins Google for HBCU Grants
Morgan State University is the most famous of the Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) in the state of Maryland. Though while the university's name might carry weight with young black Americans who want to receive higher education, the courses don't carry much weight at all when graduates want to enter STEM fields like coding, tech, engineering, etc. Many students graduate from Morgan State with their eyes set on high-paying jobs at huge corporations like Google and Apple, though black Americans do poorly compared to other demographics in admissions criteria to those careers. According to Apple, it's because Morgan State's curriculum needs an overhaul, and so the tech giant is giving a grant to Morgan State for $6.25 million.
This is right on the tail of Google awarding $5 million grants to ten separate HBCUs across America. The thought being that all black American students need is an educational track that's specifically tailored to the changing modern economy that relies heavily on tech skills.
According to a statement from Apple, paraphrased: Morgan State University hasn't been able to update their STEM education due to budgetary limitations. Looking into this topic, and looking at the courses offered at MSU, it's fairly obvious to the impartial observer that the university doesn't lean that heavily on STEM. There are all sorts of nursing and care-related courses. There are liberal arts courses like African Diaspora Studies and African American studies. There are hundreds of different options for young black Americans to truly advance their education. Though when it comes to advancing in STEM, most HBCUs simply are not set up for it.
Morgan State is a public university that receives the bulk of its funding from the state of Maryland, with some supplementary funds coming from the federal government. And with college loans all but guaranteed for young black Americans, with government backing, the school is making more money than it has in previous years. However, that still does not mean that they have a few million dollars in their coffers that they can draw upon to create new STEM departments, hire new professors, purchase new lab equipment, etc. Apple is hoping that this grant to MSU will take care of much of that, so that they can start teaching students the materials they need to learn to become competitive in the changing economy.
According to a joint statement from Google and Apple, "The initiatives by [the companies] aim to combat inequities in STEM by funding equitable education and furthering tech expertise.
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Critics have already taken to news radio, print media and social media to disapprove of this approach, calling it an "empty gesture" and claiming that these companies are just doing this to assuage their guilt. After all, the undeniable fact of the matter is that Google and Apple are the biggest tech companies in America, and if black Americans are not being hired by these companies, they are the ones in charge of the hiring. So, these companies refuse to hire black Americans at the same rate as other demographics, and then claim it's because the schools from which these young adults are graduating are the problem, not the hiring practices. "Talk about passing the buck!" said one popular Twitter response. "So, I won't hire you, but I'll give your parents money so that your little brother is happy." said another on social media.
Wherever one falls on the issue, it is a fact that Google and Apple's hiring practices are not changing. What they're saying is that black Americans are unqualified to work at their companies, and so they want to fund HBCUs so that black people come out better prepared.
Some critics are claiming that this is not only an empty gesture, but also extremely presumptive and perhaps even condescending. A popular right-wing YouTuber said, "Yale, Harvard, Cal-Tech, MIT - all of these universities have hundreds of black people. Yet you're not hiring them either. What is the science here to suggest dumping money on HBCUs is going to actually help black people? [It's] a very condescending, borderline racist assumption to make, even if it's genuine."
There's also another fact one may want to consider: The fact that poorly-performing schools in America, regardless of race, have received these cash injections before, and they historically only make matters worse, as faulty leadership misappropriates the money and it never gets where it needs to go.
Hopefully Google and Apple figure out something soon, because the entire world notices their reluctance to hire black Americans for high-paying jobs.