Teach 100,000 kids to code? #YesWeCode


As 2013 comes to an end, I want to say thank you.

We made big strides this year. Our video exposing the dangers of the Keystone XL pipeline went viral. Our successful "Gun Show Gallery" mobilized hundreds of artists against gun violence. And we finally got Bush-era Ed DeMarco fired as head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

None of that would have been possible without you.

Now we are preparing a bold game-changer for 2014.

I'm talking about #YesWeCode.

After the Trayvon Martin tragedy, we asked ourselves: Why do so many people see a black kid wearing a hoodie and think ‘thug’? And yet, when they see Mark Zuckerberg -- who wears hoodies all the time -- they think, ‘genius’?

We were forced to confront a deeper question: where are all the black (or Latino or Native American) Mark Zuckerbergs? 

Though more people of color are entering the tech world, these numbers are not enough. So we decided to do something about it.

#YesWeCode is a major initiative to help train 100,000 low-opportunity youth to become the next generation of world-class computer programmers.

We've teamed up with dozens of allies, including tech visionaries, celebrities, community leaders and activists from all over the country. We've forged a partnership with Essence Magazine and music legend Prince. At the 20th Anniversary Essence Festival in New Orleans over 4th of July weekend, we will publicly launch #YesWeCode with a bang.

#YesWeCode has the potential to make a truly profound impact on the entire country -- but we need your help to make it happen. Your tax-deductible gift will go a long way.

Rebuild The Dream is uniquely positioned to multiply your gift's impact. We have a small staff and a lean budget. Our efforts are bolstered by more than 500,000 online members. We have the partners, plan and the visibility to succeed.

We just need the resources. We have set an immediate goal of raising $50,000 by the end of the year.

And come 2014, we’re ready to take on more challenges. All we need is you.

There's not much time left. Can you make a 100% tax-deductible gift now?

Thank you -- invest in our future now.

Happy Holidays,
Van and the rest of the Rebuild the Dream team

P.S. Please note that Dec. 31 is the deadline to make year-end, tax-deductible gifts to your favorite change-making organizations.

Rebuilding the Dream, Changing the Game: A Conversation with Van Jones


On Wednesday, December 5th, the Pachamama Alliance hosted a live video conversation with attorney, civil rights activist, environmental advocate, co-host of CNN’s Crossfire and Rebuild the Dream's president Van Jones.

This interactive event was insightful, moving, and provocative and covered topics ranging from the true meaning of patriotism, to faith in the generation of Millennials, to his newest initiative #YesWeCode, inspired by the recent Trayvon Martin tragedy.

Although it is difficult to encapsulate the depth of an hour’s worth of meaningful conversation with Jones, I will highlight and summarize some of his most poignant points below. Embedded within each section is the video clip of that portion of the conversation.

Cheap Patriotism vs. Deep Patriotism

Jones defines Cheap Patriotism as “what you see on Fox News, where they just wrap the American flag around a bunch of hatred and say that’s what patriotism is”. The far right has snatched the narrative of what patriotism means, and as a society, it is problematic when we let a small sector of the population determine what being a patriot means.

Deep Patriotism is progressive. In examining what it means to be patriotic, Jones asks:

    • Who is standing up for America the Beautiful?
    • Who is standing up for the environment?
    • Who is sticking up for “Liberty and Justice for all”?

He argues, rightfully, that it is not the conservatives and not the Tea Party. Liberty for all is a progressive idea, and includes gays, lesbians, and immigrants — “You can’t be an anti-immigrant bigot and a patriot”.


YesWeCode Begins


The Rebuild The Dream is partnering with Essence and Prince to launch our newest initiative, #YesWeCode, at the 20th Annual Essence Festival on July 4-7 in New Orleans.  On Tuesday, Dec. 3rd, Essence Magazine released the following press release, announcing this partnership. 

#YesWeCode asks: What if you were given the opportunity to flip the current American status quo / economic landscape upside down? What if youth from the east side of Detroit, the southside of Chicago, the fourth quarter of New Orleans, etc. came together in collaboration to build amazing game-changing apps, support one another in partnership, mentorship and entrepreneurship and to begin elevating the condition of low-opportunity neighborhoods across the country? What if we mobilized the nation around the #YesWeCode initiative to train at least 100,00 youth from low-opportunity neighborhoods to become high-level computer programmers?

#YesWeCode is a response to the negative image of low-opportunity youth in America. The unnerving death of Trayvon Martin has given us an opportunity to create a bold, game-changing strategy. 

"I always remember how Trayvon Martin's hoodie was seen as a justification for his murder," says Van Jones, the founder of The Rebuild the Dream Innovation Fund and #YesWeCode.  "But billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wears hoodies -- and nobody shoots at him. So let's flip the script: let's give our hoodie-wearing youth the same tools, training and technology that the kids taking over Silicon Valley have. I hope #YesWeCode creates 100,000 'Mark Zuckerberg's' -- and that a whole lot of them look just like Trayvon Martin."

So, what if youth of color, girls, and low-income youth were given the space and motivation to “geek-out” during a hack-a-thon, a robotics competition or a pitch mixer? Is that the secret sauce to increasing their economic employability and their neighborhood’s social prosperity? No, not entirely. You are. And you’re equipped with all the tools they’ll need – energy, excitement, wisdom, cultural values and tradition, coding knowledge, business and investment “know-how”, passion for economic justice, a commitment to thriving communities and to diversifying technology innovation.

Join the movement.  Become a part of #YesWeCode.


Visit our #YesWeCode microsite!

Watch: The One Thing That All Americans Can Agree Must Change

It’s already been five years since the financial meltdown on Wall Street. Do you know how many of the elite bankers responsible for the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression have gone to prison for fraud or perjury?

The answer is ZERO.

By contrast, at the very same time, the U.S. continues to grow its massive prison population -- by far the largest in the world -- by imprisoning ordinary, powerless citizens for far more trivial crimes, often with less forgiveness and for longer sentences. In fact, nearly half of American prisoners are behind bars for non-violent offenses, usually low-level drug crimes.

This blatant divide in how the U.S. justice system treats elites and how it treats everyone else contradicts our country’s core value that we are all held accountable by the same rules, regardless of our power or position.  

All Americans should agree on equal justice and proportionality.

Watch this powerful video of journalist Glenn Greenwald revealing how these values have come under attack and what we can do to fight back. 

Please share the video on Facebook  or Twitter and tag someone with different political views to see if they’ll join you in spreading the word.

This video was produced by Brave New Foundation's Beyond Bars campaign in partnership with Rebuild the Dream.


Short and Strong Student Film Competition


Recently, Van was invited to participate as a guest judge for the Cortos Y Fuertes (Short and Strong) Student Film Competition.

Young people from all over the country submitted short films depicting personal stories of immigrants in their lives. Filmmakers were encouraged to investigate issues within their community and add their voice to the national dialogue on immigration reform.

Below are the six winning films. Watch these moving stories about family, cultural pride, hard work and dreams. We deeply encourage you to share them with your community via Facebook or Twitter.

Best Overall Film: Soledad: A Story of Deportation by Nadia Andrade, 21 years old

Age Category 18 years old and older: Love, Lucy by Lucia Allain, 21 years old

Age Category 14-17: Immigrant, Young and Proud by Alejandro Galeana-Salinas, 17 years old  

A Better Life by Jose Torres, 17 years old


Van at March on Washington 50th Anniversary

While covering the events of the historic March on Washington 50th Anniversary for CNN, Van had an opportunity to talk with the renown Rev. Jesse Jackson, whom he called a "central post" for the civil rights movement.

Watch the clip below:


To watch more of Van's coverage of the March on Washington 50th Anniversary celebration, click here or here

Come Out With Your Student Debt


Feeling Angry?



However you are feeling about your student debt, you are not alone. Millions of students and graduates are experiencing the inescapable burden of repaying their debt, but their stories are not being told.

We’ve partnered with StudentDebtCrisis.org and a powerful coalition of organizations to help unleash these personal stories. We believe the more of us that “come out” and share our student debt stories, the better our chances of turning the dial and creating the catalyst for real, concrete change.

Come out and be heard:

1. Record a 1-2 minute video of yourself and include the following information:

  • Name
  • Amount of your student debt
  • What you COULD do with all that extra money if you were debt free

2. Upload your video to YouTube and include hashtag #OutWithStudentDebt in the TITLE of your video

See sample scripts or check out a sample video.

Share this message with anyone who is saddled with debt and has a story to tell. 


Share on Facebook or Share on Twitter

Van joins CNN's "Crossfire"

van jones cnn crossfire se cupp newt gingrich stephanie cutter


We are thrilled to announce that Rebuild The Dream Innovation Fund's president Van Jones will be co-hosting "Crossfire", a reboot of the longest-running political debate show that aired on CNN from 1982 - 2005.

Van will be joining former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, conservative columnist S.E. Cupp and former President Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter in engaging, healthy discussion and debate on issues that run the gamut from student loan debt to global politics.

Read the official CNN announcement here.

Crossfire will air on CNN on Sept. 16, 2013. We hope you tune in!

Video: Positive Outcomes from the Trayvon Martin Verdict

Van Jones took to ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopolos to discuss how young people are using sophisticated, non-violent ways to create positive change out of the Trayvon Martin verdict. Organizations such as Dream Defenders and Color of Change are working to introduce legislation to overturn state “Stand Your Ground” laws and other "Shoot First" laws that undermine public safety and senselessly put people at risk.

Watch now: 

Spread the word!

Share this video on Facebook or Twitter

The Truth Behind the Academic Freedom Through Regulatory Relief Act (H.R. 2637)

academic freedom through regulatory relief act legislation for profit colleges educationThe "Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act" has a rather catchy name, don't you think?

That’s because it’s meant to sound good - especially to students seeking higher education. Unfortunately, when we dug deeper into what this bill truly entails, we discovered that it didn’t sound so good after all.

Rebuild The Dream recently joined a coalition of 38 organizations -- led by our friends at The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) -- in sending a letter to the U.S. Congress expressing strong opposition to this legislation, also knows as H.R. 2637. 

While supporters of this bill contend that it will reduce federal intrusion on higher education, protect student choice, and minimize the cost of regulatory burden on colleges, what is really being proposed are the following: 

  • Repealing gainful employment regulation
  • Amending incentive compensation regulation

What exactly do these measures really mean, and more importantly, how do they impact us?