Technology and the Middle Class


It's the best of times and the worst of times.

Welcome to the theme of the FWD.US Panel on Technology and the Middle Class, featuring Rebuild The Dream president Van Jones, Scott Murphy, Andrew McAfee and Andrew Rasiej. The panel discussed the state of the economy and the future of the Middle Class and the American Dream.

Watch the FULL video below.

Years of Living Dangerously

Rebuild The Dream is excited to share the first episode of Years of Living Dangerously, a new series which takes us straight to the heart of the climate change story. 

The series combines blockbuster storytelling styles from Hollywood's top film makers (such as James Cameron) and 60 Minutes' Joel Bach and David Gelber's reporting expertise to reveal critical stories of heartbreak, hope and heroism as the race to save the planet continues

In the first episode, correspondent Don Cheadle explores why climate change is occurring.

Watch the first episode for FREE below:

YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY premieres Sunday, April 13 at 10PM ET/PT – only on SHOWTIME®.




What? No more guacamole? That could be the case if we don't start using green energy, warns Van Jones on Crossfire.

Watch here.

Agree with Van? Share the image below.



StartUp Weekend Oakland Recap


It was a weekend that literally hacked the culture of Silicon Valley.  On Feb. 7 - Feb. 9, more than 50 young black males (ages 13-20) participated in StartUp Weekend Oakland’s first Hackathon celebrating Black Male Achievement hosted by Qeyno Labs and Impact HUB Oakland.

These young people teamed up with business leaders, innovators, coders, and community activists from an array of diverse backgrounds to collaborate and create apps and programs focused on community problem solving. Teams were tasked with designing new technology that would tackle the following important issues: Education, Health, Restorative Justice, Gaming, and Sustainability.

On Saturday, the groups had a chance to take a breather from their marathon coding sessions to enjoy a #YesWeCode hosted dinner and reception, which featured a keynote speech by Rebuild The Dream President Van Jones as well as wisdom from local tech leaders, such as Black Girls Code Founder Kimberly Bryant and Kapor Center Co-chair Mitch Kapor.

The crowd rose to their feet numerous times during the festivities. Below, Van and event organizers stand proudly with the weekend’s young coders.

The Zimbabwean Marimba Ensemble, Master Blaster G and Dom Jones also entertained the crowd of more than 300 during the reception.

Those who weren’t present were still able to join virtually. The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans shared a congratulatory tweet:

The San Francisco Chronicle also highlighted the Hackathon and its goal to broaden Silicon Valley’s recruitment pipeline in a recent business cover story.

Oakland Local, also an event sponsor, covered the weekend as well, which you can check out here.

Watch the video below to hear Van Jones discuss his vision for #YesWeCode.

youtube thumbnail yes we code van jones

#YesWeCode is a nationwide initiative to help train 100,000 low-opportunity youth to code. Lean more about the #YesWeCode initiative by visiting

Van debunks 3 myths about Keystone XL Pipeline on Crossfire

Now is the time for us to stand against what could turn out to be a major climate and environmental atrocity.

With the recent release of the State Department’s final report on the Keystone XL pipeline (KXL), President Obama could be one step closer to approving this toxic project. 

If approved, KXL would transport more than 800,000 barrels of tar sands oil daily across the U.S. from Canada to the Gulf Coast. And just to be clear - This is not oil. This is pipe-eating, planet-cooking, water-fouling goo that nobody knows what to do with.

Today marks the first day of the State Department's new public comment period on the report, which invites the entire public to share their comments and concerns about the pipeline.

Watch Rebuild The Dream president Van Jones give his public comment against KXL and debunk three popular myths about "this special interest boondoggle." 

Spread the word and share this video on Facebook or Twitter.

YesWeCode - Positive Space


Hello! My name is Mikey Muhanna and I'd like to tell you about Melvin.

Melvin was a student of mine at Reed HS in New Orleans’ Recovery School District. He took his studies very seriously and worked hard to graduate on schedule, becoming the first person in his family to attend college. Four months later, he was failing half of his college classes and eventually dropped out after one semester. After that experience, Melvin found himself with a severely damaged sense of self worth, $5,000 in student loans and very few options.

The tragedy is that Melvin’s story is not unique: more than half of my former students who enrolled in college have since dropped out. In fact, approximately 80% of low income students who enroll in college drop out without getting their degrees.

Melvin's situation demanded another option for him to build the skills and tools necessary to bounce back. Positive Space has become that option.

Positive Space is a non-profit co-working space in New Orleans dedicated to increasing the rate of college persistence and graduation among low-income high school graduates, who often lack the personal and social skills to succeed in college. Positive Space seeks to accomplish this by teaching recent high school graduates the fundamentals of computer programming through a volunteer-administered curriculum that will serve as a conduit to develop student grit, professionalism and emotional maturity.

Melvin Positive Space 1

Through Positive Space, Melvin is walking a different path and winning, and I know the rest of my students (and millions in similar situations) can win as well if they are just empowered to develop their skills before it costs $25,000 a year to learn.

Positive Space is in the early stages of its development. I am prototyping the model with Melvin and will continue the test for the remainder of this academic year. Melvin participates in the program while maintaining a full time job. Monday through Friday, he works 8 hours at a coffee shop during the day and then in the evenings comes to the 4.0 Schools office space to work through the CodeAcademy curriculum on a laptop that was donated to Positive Space. He maintains a daily blog about his experiences on the Positive Space website and conferences with me every evening to discuss the day’s lesson and make plans for the following day.

Over the past three months, Melvin has successfully completed Code Academy’s Web Fundamentals track (which includes an introduction to HTML, CSS and jQuery), graduated from part time to a full time (and certified!) barista at CC's Coffee Shop, and even started to work on a personal web project with a developer from LaunchPad (The Amazing Max Gaudin).

Melvin Positive Space

While we are celebrating our achievements there is much more work to be done. We have begun to build a partnership with #YesWeCode, and have been incredibly appreciative of all their support and encouragement thus far.

Melvin has many peers in New Orleans who are currently graduating from high school and are rushing into college (and into thousands of dollars of loans) without the requisite emotional and academic tools.

If you would like to follow and be part of our journey towards building a Positive Space in New Orleans for student's like Melvin, you can find us at


Mikey Muhanna is the founder of Positive Space NOLA. You can contact him or learn more about Positive Space at and @PostiveSpaceNO.

Van Jones on #SOTU


During last night's State of the Union speech, President Obama promised a "year of action" while addressing important topics, such as raising the minimum wage to $10.10 for new federal contract workers and touting successful diplomacy abroad with Syria and Iran.

While these are promising moves toward action, the American people deserve much more.

Watch Rebuild the Dream's Van Jones share what issues the President needs to tackle to truly make 2014 a big year:

Like this video? Share it on Facebook and Twitter

Solo Theater for Social Change



“I want to emphasize something. I value higher education. I actually value it so much that I don’t think is should be just accessible for all Americans. It should also be affordable for all Americans.” -FOR PROFIT

My name is Aaron Calafato. I’m an actor, writer, and activist who creates solo-theater for social change. My solo-play, FOR PROFIT, is about the 1.4 trillion dollar Student Debt Crisis, for-profit schools and the exploitation of the American student. 

But before this, I was an unemployed 20-something with a bachelor's degree in communication desperately looking for a job to pay off my unreasonable student debt. When I finally was offered a job to start doing that, there was one problem: it was as an admissions advisor at a for-profit university. 

Ironically, I found myself in a predatory environment where I was asked to put students into debt in order to pay off my own student debt. For me, it was a crisis of conscious. A world of slick sales pitches and deception was not a world I wanted to live in -- even if it meant losing my only means to pay off my own student debt. 

Is the crushing burden of student debt a new collective part of the American Dream? I don’t think it should be. Do you?

As my friends at Rebuild the Dream say: “Every great movement in American history began by changing our culture”. 

So with the help of Rebuild the Dream, we’re sharing this video with you to illustrate the importance and power of how storytelling can help change culture. Simply recognizing and sharing your own story in a unique way can add to the fabric of a larger movement -- a movement that could shift the paradigm of how we value higher education in America.


Aaron Calafato is a Performing Artist, Writer, and Teaching Artist that specializes in Solo-Theater for Social Change. He is a recipient of a 2012 Emerging Artist Grant from The Puffin Foundation and is currently touring his solo-play, FOR PROFIT as seen in: The Huffington Post, The Chronicle, Campus Progress, RT-America, NPR (NPR), MPBN, NPR (WYSO), WEWS ABC Channel 5,, Portland Press Herald, The Fiscal Times, The Hill and Washington Monthly. Visit his website at

MLK Meets Silicon Valley?!?


I’m thrilled to be taking part in Oakland’s very first "StartUp Weekend": February 7-9!

Too many urban youth are slipping through the cracks. We need to stop wasting their genius -- and start celebrating and supporting it.

#YesWeCode -- our national initiative to support the movement to teach 100,000 low-opportunity youth to code -- is partnering with the amazing Qeyno Labs and Impact HUB Oakland to make this event a success!

During the weekend, we’ll explore the question: Could an app have saved Trayvon Martin’s life?

The weekend will feature the first global "hackathon" centered on Black Male Achievement and more. For those new to the term, a "hackathon" is a creative session in which innovators, coders and designers work together to create cool stuff. People from different technical backgrounds and cultures will create unique solutions from scratch -- from websites, to mobile apps, to my personal favorite, robots!

At the end, each team will have the opportunity to pitch its creation to a panel of judges. The panel's expertise reflects the following five tracks: education, health, restorative justice, video gaming and environment.

I’ll be doing the keynote at Saturday’s evening gala, and I would love to see you there. It's going to be a magical evening filled with #YesWeCode superstars and leaders from across business, government and social sectors. We will also be taking part in other festivities during the weekend.

Please join me. Even if you’re not a big "computer person" (I'm still learning myself!), it will be inspiring. You will meet game-changers from all over the globe -- plus bright, passionate young people who aren’t afraid to hack a positive future for themselves, and for us all. And there will be national news media and local tech entrepreneurs.

There is no doubt that this weekend will be a crucial step in creating a Silicon Valley of which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be proud!

See you in Oakland,


p.s. #YesWeCode is online on TwitterFacebook and our new website.


See below for weekend schedule:




How you can See America


When’s the last time you’ve truly seen America?

Almost a century after the U.S. government first commissioned posters showcasing the country’s national parks, our friends at the Creative Action Network (CAN) have re-imagined the See America campaign for the digital era.

You may remember CAN from last year's powerful Gun Show Gallery, a crowd-sourced online art gallery in which Rebuild the Dream Innovation Fund was a partner.

The new See America is another crowd-sourced art campaign, which enlists artists from all 50 states to create a collection of artwork that celebrates the natural wonders of this country. The posters highlight natural, cultural and historical sites across the country, depicting our rich history and most importantly, encouraging individuals to reconnect with these often forgotten places and rediscover their power and resilience.

CAN has also teamed up with the National Parks Conservation Association to ensure that the National Park Service is safeguarded and supported for generations to come. 

What can you do?

  • LOOK – Check out the full See America art collection here. Tell us which are your favorites!
  • SHARE – Become part of the #SeeAmerica campaign and spread the word via Twitter or Facebook.
  • CREATE – Bring your favorite landmark to life and create your own masterpiece. Get more info here.
  • SUPPORT – Purchase See America posters and merchandise and support the artists that created them.
  • VISIT – This month, CAN will be exhibiting See America at galleries in New York and San Francisco. Get details here.