Self-reliance is a big theme for her, given how she grew up, in rural New Jersey; given how far she’s come.
“I’ve always had this idea that you have to make the most of things,” she says. student, Powell Jobs met her late husband, the innovation icon Steve. Languorous Southern magnolias, sky-aiming tulip trees, as well as the redwoods that Palo Alto is named for (It turns out Powell Jobs knows a lot about trees.
“It was an inviolate rule; we would always eat dinner together,” she says, “and Steve would always be home.”As we cross the highway and enter East Palo Alto, the trees disappear, and the houses become markedly smaller.
East Palo Alto is one of those American places that have experienced the downside of cities’ being sorted by race and class: a prolonged disinvestment; its sole public high school closed in 1976 and demolished two decades ago.
And finally, starting last fall, she assembled a group of people to launch a national competition calling on teachers, students, communities, groups of any kind to reimagine the American high school.
At least five ideas will be chosen by Powell Jobs’s team and million divided among them.
It’s a short drive from the well-known Palo Alto to the less well-known one—a trip Laurene Powell Jobs has been making for more than 20 years.
(He now manages investments at Emerson.) “With Steve being gone,” Powell Jobs says, “it was just me and my kids, and they came out to be with me.” To say they helped seems to be an understatement. As time passed, a question arose: How would the Silicon Valley power woman use her reported billion fortune?
“Laurene was an older sister,” says Marlene Castro, a College Track alum and U. Throughout the afternoon, I watch her focus intently on each young person she’s talking to, both serious and naturally at ease—even kind of silly and fun.
She needs to get home but encourages me to stay and suggests we meet again the next day.
Would she become more of a charitable force, a political player, or, well, how would she proceed? She has scaled up College Track, and via the Emerson Collective, she’s taken a deep interest in immigration reform, bankrolling efforts to push for the Dream Act—a bid to legalize undocumented minors.
She has also become a major donor to Ready PAC, supporting Hillary Clinton, and recently showed up at a White House conference on education policy.
She currently serves on the boards of several charities and, in addition to College Track, founded a nonprofit for social reform called the Emerson Collective. C.'s mayor for four years, from 2006 to 2010, focusing on school reform.