"Things must change, and Apple's committed to being a force for that change," Tim Cook said in a tweet on Thursday
Apple CEO Tim Cook
Tim Cook
| Credit: JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the formation of an initiative to address racial inequality, and they are dedicating $100 million to help bring about change.

The 59-year-old unveiled the initiative in a video message posted to his Twitter account on Thursday. The remarks come just over two weeks since the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Floyd's death has sparked a national conversation about systemic racism and police brutality, placing renewed urgency on tech companies to support minority communities.

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

Cook said the company would also partner with the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit that provides legal services to prisoners possibly wrongly convicted of crimes.

"Growing up in Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement, I saw firsthand that 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," said Cook, who became the first CEO of a Fortune 500 company to publicly come out as gay in 2014.

Apple's Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, Lisa Jackson, will lead the company's Racial Equity and Justice Initiative. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Jackson became the "first African American to serve as EPA Administrator" in 2009.

"Beginning in the United States and expanding globally over time, the initiative will challenge the systemic barriers to opportunity and dignity that exist for communities of color and particularly for the black community with special focus on issues of education, economic equality and criminal justice reform," Cook said of the endeavor.

Cook added that Apple will continue its efforts to diversify staff and "develop, and support those from underrepresented groups."

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"This is a comprehensive effort governed by three principles: representation, inclusion, and accountability," Cook said. "Whether it is at Apple or anywhere else in society, the burden of change must not fall on those who are underrepresented. It falls heaviest on those in positions of power, leadership, and influence to change structures for the greater good."

"We will do our part, and I want to send our gratitude to everyone who is pushing needed changes forward in their communities," he continued.

Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey also made headlines this week in his response to ongoing protests. On Tuesday, Dorsey said all employees in the United States will now be able to honor Juneteenth — a day that commemorates the freeing of enslaved people in Texas in 1865 — as a company holiday moving forward.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.

• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.