#cut50 Briefing in D.C. (January 22, 2015)

cory booker and van jones

#cut50 packed the house with political movers and shakers on Jan. 22 in Washington, D.C. to address the critical need for criminal justice reform. Speakers included our own Van Jones, Right on Crime's Vikrant Reddy, Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Senator Cory Booker, and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

Click to see event gallery 


#YesWeCode at Social Good Tech Week SF

social good tech week

Social good organizations deserve the most innovative technologies. That's why Social Good Tech Week will be featuring the coolest technology companies and highlight stories of social good organizations and startups using technology to solve some of the world's most challenging problems.

Get 50% off tickets to Social Good Tech Week from Jan. 27 - Feb.1 Use code: SGTWSPEAKER50.

And you don't even have to be in the Bay Area to participate. There will be plenty of satellite events and workshops for virtual participants. 

Plus, watch #YesWeCode founders Amy Henderson and Cheryl Contee give ignite talks on Friday at the Victoria Theater // 2961 16th St. in San Francisco

Afternoon Ignite Talks (2pm)

  • Jobs for the Future: Using Technology to Empower in the 21st Century Economy, Tess Posner, Managing Director, SamaUSA
  • How Technology is Helping Detroit Get Access to Water, Tiffani Ashley Bell, Founder, Detroit Water Project
  • Useful, Beautiful, Data, Matthew Scharpnick, Elefint Designs
  • Thumbs for Good... How Our Cell Phones Can Advance Social Good // Dominique DeGuzman, Software Engineer, Twilio
  • What I Learned From Kittens, Puppies and Goats About Social Media for Social Goood, Cheryl Contee, Co-Founder, Attentive.ly
  • How Africa's Tech Revolution is Shaping the Next Generation of African Social Entrepreneurs, Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes, CEO & Co-founder of the Akilah Institute for Women
  • How Technology Activated Over a Million Asian Americans at the Ballot Box, Samala, Founder, 18millionRising
  • How #YesWeCode is Using Technology to Transform the Lives of 100,000 Low-opportunity Youth, Amy Henderson, #YeWeCode, Co-founder & Chief Innovation Officer

Check out the full schedule for Social Good Tech Week or buy tickets: http://socialgoodtech.org/


THE CAP TIMES: Van Jones, Scott Walker agree on MLK Day: 'There's more we can do'

It was a collision of past, present and future as elected officials, dignitaries and citizens gathered in Wisconsin's Capitol rotunda to honor the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Speakers including Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Wisconisn Public Radio broadcaster Jonathan Overby, environmental advocate and civil rights activist Van Jones and Gov. Scott Walker paid tribute to the civil rights leader in a Monday afternoon ceremony.

Some noted that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches. Some called attention to the renewed push for racial justice, as protesters respond to the highly publicized killings of black men by police and to racial disparities across the country.

Political opposites Walker and Jones found some common ground, agreeing there's more to be done to address racial disparities in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

Click here to read more.


USA TODAY: Van Jones on teaching 100,000 low-income kids to code

 Van Jones

SAN FRANCISCO — Shortly after the Trayvon Martin verdict, Van Jones says he was talking about race with his friend, music legend Prince.

"Every time you see a black kid wearing a hoodie, you say: there's a thug. If you see a white kid wearing hoodie, you say: there's Mark Zuckerberg," Jones said. "I said, 'that's because of racism. And Prince said, 'maybe so, or maybe you civil rights guys haven't created enough Mark Zuckerbergs.'"

That challenge inspired Jones to create Yes We Code, an initiative of his Rebuild the Dream organization that aims to teach 100,000 low-income kids to write code. Prince promoted the initiative in July by headlining the Essence Festival in New Orleans where Yes We Code held its first hackathon.

"How do we create a situation that when you see a young black kid in a hoodie, you think, maybe I should go up and ask the kid for a loan or a job as opposed to assuming the kid's a threat," Jones said during an interview in USA TODAY's San Francisco bureau.

Computer science is one of the fastest-growing and best-paying career paths in the USA. Yet most computer science students are white men, and too few African-Americans and Hispanics even consider it.

Yes We Code is helping dozens of organizations around the country that are trying to address high-tech's racial and gender gap from Black Girls Code to Hack the Hood. It connects those groups with the resources they need, Jones said.

"Yes We Code aspires to become the United Negro College Fund equivalent for coding education," Jones said. "Yes We Code exists to find and fund the next Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg in communities you would never expect to find them."

Yes We Code counts among its partners Facebook and Google. And for good reason. The tech industry needs these kinds of efforts.

In 2014, leading technology companies released data showing they vastly underemploy African-Americans, Hispanics and women.

Tech companies are mainly staffed by white and Asian men. African-Americans and Hispanics make up 5% of the companies' workforces, compared with 14% nationally.

That means Silicon Valley may be missing out on the next big idea or company because it employs too few women and people of color, Jones said. And young people are missing out on their chance at a better life.

"Aptitude tests show one out of five kids of any color have an inherent aptitude for the kind of problem solving that is required to be a computer programmer. So that means one out of five kids out here in low-income communities, Native American reservations, Appalachia, housing projects, barrios, ghettos could be on the Mark Zuckerberg track," Jones said. "The problem is their mother doesn't know, their father doesn't know, the coach doesn't know, the teacher doesn't know, the preacher doesn't know. So they all want to be LeBron James.

"The math doesn't work. You have a million low-income kids playing basketball this weekend all trying to get into the NBA. The NBA has 450 players and they hire 15 kids a year So you have 1 million mostly black kids trying out for 15 jobs. Meanwhile the technology sector says they are going to be a million workers short in eight years. And if we are not careful, we will have 15 black Urkels trying out for a million jobs." Click here to read more. 


A Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. with Dr. Cornel West (January 15, 2015)

To celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 86th birthday, Van Jones spoke with Dr. Cornel West, Professor at Union Theological Seminary and author of Black Prophetic Fire.

Praised by The New York Times for his “ferocious moral vision” and hailed by Newsweek as “an elegant prophet with attitude,” Dr. Cornel West bridges the gap between black and white opinion about the country’s problems. As a leading voice in societal commentary, Dr. West marched in civil rights demonstrations, taught at Yale, Harvard, and Princeton and is currently a professor at Union Theological Seminary. He draws from traditions of Christianity, the black church, Marxism, and neopragmatism. Hear his fiery oration on the past, present and future of race and injustice in the United States in conjunction with the release of his latest book, The Radical King

Watch the conversation below:



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