February 18, 2021

By Lapacazo Sandoval

Contributing Writer


On Friday, February 12th, I was part of a carefully curated group of journalists invited to learn more about Apple’s Racial Equity Justice Initiative (REJI). The program was led by Alisha Johnson where they discussed Apple’s $100 million pledge to advance racial equality which includes a first-of-its-kind education hub for HBCUs and an Apple Developer Academy in Detroit in addition to the first-ever cohort of Apple Entrepreneur Camp for Black Founders and Developers that starts next week, Tuesday 2/16.

Here’s the thing, all of my APPLE devices had audio issues on 02.12.2020. Those devices include my Apple MacBook Pro which is still operating on macOS Mojave and my Apple iPhone 6plus. So, I heard every other word that the African-American founded app developers Marah Lidey (SHINE), Tanya Van Court (GOALSETTER), Michael Broughton (PERCH CREDIT), and Isaac Hayes (FANBASE), had to share about their accomplishments.

Once the team leader understood my audio challenges, they made effort to help me during the Apple junket, and for this, I am deeply appreciative.

Each of these dynamic visionaries piqued my interest, and I am confident that once you visit their platforms you will also understand why Apple’s Racial Equity Justice Initiative (REJI) is such an exciting program. But it was my time with Isaac Hayes III, Fanbase (yes, he is the son of Isaac Hayes), that stirred my curiosity and has encouraged me ponder creating a new column and perhaps starting a podcast. Details to follow as the idea shapes up. 

Michael Broughton, Perch Credit is a free credit builder that turns monthly expenses into creditworthy data. It was founded when founder Michael Broughton was applying for his college loans and realized the lack of options for building credit that did not require an existing credit history or additional money.

Broughton studied business at the University of Southern California. From a military family, Michael grew up in the Far East, living in South Korea and Japan before eventually moving to South Dakota. He is passionate about social entrepreneurship and communitarianism in business and says his love of the business isn’t based so much on his ability to climb a ladder, as it is on his desire to build one.

Tanya Van Court, Goalsetter is a Brooklyn-based saving and financial literacy app for kids and families, founded by Tanya Van Court based on her passion for closing the wealth gap in Black and Brown communities. Goalsetter’s app includes an FDIC-Insured Savings Account, the Cashola Teen and Tween Debit Card, and game-based financial literacy quizzes. The app’s quiz-based games are developed using memes and gifs from artists like Beyonce and Chance the Rapper, and social media and pop culture personalities. Van Court describes it as “Nickelodeon meets Fintech.”

In celebration of Black History Month, Goalsetter announced a campaign with support from partnerships with athletes, influencers, and activists including Mark Cuban to provide 1 million kids their first savings accounts with $40 and a debit card. In January, Goalsetter announced a $3.9 million seed funding round, coming from NBA stars Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and Baron Davis, along with funding from Vista Equity Partners, PNC Bank, Mastercard, and Elevate Capital.

Van Court is from Oakland and holds two Engineering degrees from Stanford. Before Goalsetter, Tanya led digital products at Nickelodeon, partner marketing at Discovery Education, and media products as ESPN.

Marah Lidey, Shine created the Shine app, with co-founder and co-CEO Naomi Hirabayashi, to help make daily well-being and mental health resources easily accessible. They met as co-workers and found in each other a support network they realized didn’t always exist, particularly for women and women of color, and created Shine to help address that gap.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shine has partnered with Mental Health America to offer a free Care for Your Coronavirus Anxiety resource and plans to launch a daily podcast. This summer, Shine launched a new category on Black well-being and has prioritized content from Black creators (90% of the app’s content is voiced by Black women).

In a bylined piece for Marie Claire this summer, Lidey, addressed how years of racism have created a mental health crisis for Black Americans and shared how her own experiences have shaped her life and career. Shine was honored as one of Apple’s Best of the App Store 2020 winners in December.

The seed of my column/podcast idea came from my challenging conversation with Isaac Hayes III, creator of Fanbase. What is, Fanbase?

Fanbase is the photo, video, and live streaming app that enables creators to monetize posts and offer their subscribers exclusive content at $3.99 a month. Fanbase stemmed from I Hayes’s passion for content monetization culled from a 21-year multi-ventured career as a songwriter, producer, brand manager, and political activist.

Fanbase raised $2.7 million in seed funding on StartEngine in November 2020 and holds second place in single-day fundraising for a Reg CF on the platform. Hayes is the second African-American man on StartEngine and third ever to raise $1 million in a Reg CF campaign.

Hayes’s songwriting-producing credits include T-Pain’s “Buy You A Drank,” and scores from TV and movies including “Pitch Perfect 2”, “Think Like A Man Too” and “About Last Night.” He’s also managed his family business as President and CEO of Isaac Hayes Enterprises, managing the brand and catalog of his soul icon father, Isaac Hayes.

His passion for his community and hometown of Atlanta propelled him into the political arena in 2017, where he played an integral part in electing Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, using social media and deep knowledge of the city to spark a social media and political movement of citizens, activists, and entertainment community leaders.

Apple’s commitments through the REJI program can be found by visiting: https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2021/01/apple-launches-major-new-racial-equity-and-justice-initiative-projects-to-challenge-systemic-racism-advance-racial-equity-nationwide/.

Category: Arts & Culture