Laurene Powell Jobs and Ron Conway: Help Our Fellow Americans | Disrupt SF 2017 | Summary and Q&A

September 20, 2017
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Laurene Powell Jobs and Ron Conway: Help Our Fellow Americans | Disrupt SF 2017

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In this video, Ron Conway and Laurene Powell Jobs discuss how the tech community can become more involved in social issues, specifically focusing on immigration reform and the DREAM Act. They talk about their personal experiences with organizations like College Track and how they have seen the impact of immigration policies on students. They also highlight the important role that artists and cultural purveyors play in raising awareness and changing perspectives on these issues. They urge the audience to take action by contacting their representatives and supporting the DREAM Act and the DACA renewal fund.

Questions & Answers

Q: What inspired Laurene Powell Jobs to start College Track?

Laurene Powell Jobs started College Track because she visited a local high school and realized that many students were interested in attending college but hadn't taken the necessary courses or received guidance on the admission process. This was particularly true for first-generation American students who didn't have the resources or knowledge at home or in their community. Laurene decided to start College Track to provide support and opportunities for these students.

Q: How did College Track become involved in immigration reform?

Four years after starting College Track, Laurene Powell Jobs discovered that a significant number of her students didn't have social security numbers or legal documentation. They were undocumented and had no access to state or federal funding for their education. Recognizing the need for immigration reform, Laurene started advocating for the DREAM Act and gathering signatures to support it. This led to the introduction of the first DREAM Act in Congress.

Q: Why has immigration reform been a challenging issue to address?

Immigration reform has been a challenging issue because it often becomes a political football, with different parties and politicians prioritizing their own interests over the rights and voices of undocumented individuals. The lack of political power and resources of the affected individuals makes it easier for their rights to be overlooked. Additionally, passing comprehensive immigration reform requires bipartisan support, which has been difficult to achieve.

Q: How has President Trump's administration affected immigration policies?

President Trump's administration has made immigration a major issue, with the rescission of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) being a notable example. DACA provided protected status for individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children, allowing them to work and access certain benefits. The rescission has increased awareness and urgency surrounding immigration issues, including the DREAM Act.

Q: Why is it important for the tech community to support immigration reform?

Immigrants have played a significant role in building and advancing the tech industry, with more than 40% of Fortune 500 companies being founded by immigrants and their children. The success and growth of the tech industry depend on attracting and retaining talent from around the world. Failing to support immigration reform would be economically detrimental to the industry and the country as a whole.

Q: How have artists contributed to raising awareness about immigration issues?

Artists, like visual artist JR and film director Alejandro Inarritu, have used their work to raise awareness and challenge perceptions about immigration. JR created powerful artwork, such as a giant crib-like structure near the U.S.-Mexico border, to make people rethink the purpose and impact of walls. Inarritu directed an immersive VR experience that allows participants to experience the fear and tension of a border crossing, humanizing the people affected by immigration policies. Artists like Davis Guggenheim have also made documentaries highlighting the experiences of Dreamers and the importance of the DREAM Act.

Q: How has Ron Conway been involved in supporting Dreamers?

Ron Conway has been involved in supporting Dreamers through his involvement with College Track and his collaboration with musician and entrepreneur Together, they started a College Track branch in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, a community with many Dreamers. They integrated coding and robotics into the program and helped Dreamers pursue STEM majors. Ron Conway also emphasizes the need for support in renewing DACA status, including financial assistance for fees.

Q: What are some action items that individuals can take to support Dreamers?

One action item is to contact Congress, specifically Kevin McCarthy, the house leader, to urge the passage of the DREAM Act. This can be done by visiting the Emerson Collective Dreamers website and using a script provided to call McCarthy's office. Another action item is to contribute to the DACA renewal fund to help Dreamers afford the renewal fees. The fund has information on Dreamers who need support and individuals can contribute to their GoFundMe pages.


The tech community has a vital role to play in advocating for immigration reform and supporting DACA recipients and Dreamers. By raising awareness, engaging with artists, and taking action, individuals can help ensure that the rights and future of these individuals are protected. It is not only an economic imperative but also a matter of upholding the values and identity of the United States as a country that welcomes and embraces immigrants.

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