The donation, made in collaboration with the Utah Jazz basketball team owners and Imagine Dragons singer Dan Reynolds, is the latest in a series of social justice endeavors.
Apple is facilitating a Utah-based nonprofit to expand in four states, providing a community center for LGBTQ youths and families. The program, named Encircle, launched in 2017 and operates out of houses it remodels to provide services like art and music studios, community classes, and service projects. It also extends free and subsidized group and individual therapy sessions.
Everyone should feel safe and supported enough to be open about who they are with their community and themselves and Encircle are helping to bridge gaps and bring people together, communicating a powerful message that the greatest thing you can aspire to become is who you truly are.
Encircle said the money will facilitate its endeavors to open eight new homes in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, and its home state of Utah. Apple made its investment alongside Ryan Smith and his wife, Ashley, the owners of the Utah Jazz basketball team. Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds and his wife, musician Aja Volkman, also contributed Reynolds’ childhood home to the organization. Apple will offer iPads and other products apart from its $1 million donations.
This happens to be Apple’s latest moves with social justice initiatives, which broadened amid racial conflict across the US last summer. At the time, Apple said it planned to spend $100 million on education, economic equality, and criminal justice reform. Cook wished to challenge the systemic barriers to opportunity and dignity that exist for communities of color, and particularly for the black community.
Cook showed his interest in charitable giving shortly after being named CEO in 2011. Almost a month after he took the job, Cook plunged into Apple’s pile of cash and equivalents, to begin employee donation matching programs for up to $10,000 per year. Apple had also donated $50 million each to Stanford University and Product RED, a product brand of which a portion of proceeds go to combat AIDS globally.
Cook, who grew up in Alabama during the 1960s and out as gay since 2014, has spoken out on LGBTQ issues.
Apple’s $1 million investment in Encircle may appear meager compared to some of its other endeavors, but organization head Stephanie Larsen said its programs which have shifted online during the pandemic are as significant as ever. Studies repeatedly revealed that LGBTQ+ youth across the country fight with depression and suicidality far more than their heterosexual peers, and the pandemic has made that sense of isolation so many feel harder than ever before. This amazing gesture of support makes Apple’s nationwide expansion feasible and will improve innumerable LGBTQ+ lives — reminding them that they are okay, just the way they are.