Laurene Powell Jobs is known by many as “Steve Jobs’ widow,” but there is so much more to her than that. Powell Jobs is a philanthropist who cares deeply about the youth in this country. She is also very interested in political issues.
College Track is a non-profit organization that Laurene Powell Jobs co-founded with businessman and journalist Carlos Watson. This after-school program targets minority students and those who come from low-income backgrounds, but a majority of the participants are children who will be the first in their families to go to college.
College Track provides high school students with after-school programs that include tutoring, leadership classes and other extra-curricular activities. The point is to first help these kids graduate from high school and prepare them for college. The program goes on to support these kids throughout their college years so that they have a higher chance of graduating.
The program is extremely successful in realizing its goals. Of the 90 percent of College Track participants that enter four-year colleges, 70 percent of them graduate within 6 years. This is a remarkable achievement when one considers the fact that these kids are first-time college students. People within this demographic who do not participate in this program do not fare as well. The national average graduation rate for first-time college students is only 24 percent.
Currently, Powell Jobs is operating this program in Aurora, Colorado, New Orleans, Louisiana and four cities in California, including Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and East Palo Alto. Although there is interest in developing these programs in other areas, Powell Jobs wants to ensure that she can continue her great successes in the locations she is serving now.
The DREAM Act
Powell Jobs’ work with underprivileged kids in the College Track program led her to another passion: immigration reform. Some of her College Track kids were brought to this country illegally by their parents, and Powell Jobs learned that these kids do not have any options because of it. They graduate from high school, but they are ineligible for state or federal financial aid for higher education because of their immigration status. They also cannot work legally.
Powell Jobs wanted to do something to change the reality for her College Track kids, so she became an advocate for The DREAM Act. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act provides a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrant high school students, high school graduates and those who have served in the military.
The Emerson Collective
Powell Jobs founded an organization called the “Emerson Collective” that supports social issues, and it has given her a vehicle with which to advance immigration reform. Through this philanthropic institution, Powell Jobs donated money toward the making of a documentary entitled “The Dream is Now,” a film that was directed by Academy Award-winner Davis Guggenheim. Powell Jobs and Guggenheim have already screened this film for several members of Congress.
Powell Jobs believes that a great deal of energy and brilliance are being wasted and that this must not be allowed to continue. Through Powell Jobs’ philanthropic work, immigration reform, education issues, conservation matters and democratic candidates are finding their voices in this country today.