The Philanthropic Life of Laurene Powell Jobs

Laurene Powell Jobs is the widow of Steve Jobs, one of the co-founders of Apple. A native of West Milford, New Jersey, Laurene attended the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, where she received a B.S. in Economics in 1985. She went on to attend the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where she graduated with an M.B.A. in 1991, the same year she married Steve Jobs.

Laurene co-founded a natural foods company called Terravera. It operated primarily in Northern California, selling foods to various retailers. Among her other responsibilities was serving on the Achieva board of directors. This was a company that assisted students with taking standardized tests and doing better with their studies. The company developed online tools that students could use to achieve these goals. Prior to attending business school, she was employed by Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch.

With a net worth estimated to be $11.5 billion, she has put her wealth to good use, investing much of it in a series of charitable and philanthropic endeavors. Although her husband gave many gifts to people, he was not known for being much of a philanthropist. In fact, prior to his death, Steve Jobs refused to join the organization known as “Giving Pledge,” founded by fellow billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. The goal of the organization is to get the richest people in the world to charitably donate half of their fortune. It is important to note that Laurene has yet to sign the pledge to donate half of her fortune.

For many years, Laurene has donated large amounts of money to a wide variety of causes, particularly in the field of education. She has made these donations under the radar. The first of Laurene’s high-profile philanthropic endeavors took place in 1997, when she founded College Track. This is a non-profit organization with the goal of helping low-income children stay in school, enroll in college and eventually graduate.

The program starts working with children early, usually before they enter high school. It continues on with the children until they graduate college, helping students who are on the verge of dropping out. Almost 1,200 students have been a part of the College Track program. Of that total, 90 percent have finished high school.

Immigration reform is another issue Laurene is passionate about. She first took an interest in this subject while she was in charge of College Track. Several of the College Track students in CA were illegal immigrants. Because they were in the country illegally, they were unable to qualify for financial aid from the state and federal government. This led her to put her support behind the DREAM Act, a way for illegal immigrant children to become United States citizens. Although it did not make it past Congress, she is still offering her financial backing to garner support for a future vote on the issue. Her goal is to change a system she believes to be broken.

Laurene is a member of the Udacity advisory board. This is a company that works to provide affordable education for underprivileged students. She was also one of the founders of the Emerson Collective. Through this organization, investments and grants are made for the purpose of furthering conservation, social justice, immigration reform and education. Recently, Laurene was one of the potential buyers of the Los Angeles Clippers NBA team. She continues to use her wealth to help people.

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