When Steve Jobs died in early October, he not only left behind a line of innovative Mac products, he also left behind a philanthropic wife. Laurene Powell Jobs’ good deeds in education reform have finally reached the spotlight in light of her husband’s death.
Her largest contribution to education is College Track. It is a program that started in 1997 and offers coaching, tutoring and guidance in finding financial assistance for high school students that may find it difficult to attend college.
Ms. Jobs, who worked for Merrill Lynch Asset Management and Goldman Sachs in the late 1980s, had a well-rounded education and upbringing, unlike the students she seeks to help out.
Students, who are often black or Latino, that need College Track’s help “Think, ‘you don’t know my story,’” said Carlos Watson, who co-founded College Track. Watson said that despite the differences Ms. Jobs has with these students, she always finds a way to connect with them.
“It is very rare to find someone who is not one of our most senior staff members who can walk into a classroom and pick up on what she noticed,” said Wendy Kopp, the founder and CEO of Teach For America. “Her level of standards and questions all revealed such genuine commitment to the idea that all kids have the chance for an excellent education.”
Even with her husband’s death, Ms. Jobs will continue to remain an advocate for education reform and will continue to co-operate College Track, a program that has helped over 1,000 students, 90 percent of have gone to four-year colleges. She is an inspiration to all of us here at EDU and is a woman who has done so much more than simply make a large donation.
Watson said that Ms. Jobs thought “this (education) is important enough that I am not going to just write a check—I am going to build with my own hands an infrastructure that can help students go to college.”