The Story of Our Name

Where does the name Green Dot Public Schools come from and what does it mean?

The name originated in the 2000 presidential campaign. It promised to be the first in history to leverage the emerging power of the internet. To research the availability of new technology, an events-planning team that included our founder Steve Barr, pored over maps of the Los Angeles area and marked community sites with colored stickers to indicate levels of internet connectivity. Those with broad and reliable access to the internet were marked with green dots; those without access were marked with red dots. As the map filled with colored dots – indicating, in many cases, the viability of libraries, community centers, and schools – a stark pattern emerged. The core of the city of Los Angeles was red and it transitioned to a green suburbia. It was a stark visual reminder of the geographic inequity in resources and opportunities.

While most of those present focused solely on the strategic importance of the green dot neighborhoods, Steve Barr noticed the red dots; recognizing them as communities rich with an untapped potential that was largely disconnected from the city’s broader network of opportunity. This powerful visual of the green- and red-dotted map led our founder to imagine empowering communities by seeding small, personalized community schools in the city’s most neglected neighborhoods.

Green Dot was founded with the express purpose of connecting people with opportunity through education; to plug underserved communities into the city’s social and economic power grid; and to level the playing field by transforming those red dots to green dots.

In 2009, Steve moved on from Green Dot, but our founding mission is more powerful than any one individual and the organization has continued to grow in both impact and scale.


 Imagine, for a moment, a map of the United States, where thriving communities rich with infrastructure and opportunities are marked with green dots and communities lacking such resources are marked with red dots. Picture the ratio of one color to the other. Now imagine the red dots turning green, promoting the abundant and vastly under-appreciated assets contained within these communities. Envision the practically unlimited momentum our nation can carry into the future by bringing this human potential online. The transformative power of good schools to anchor and nurture authentic individual and community success drives the mission of Green Dot Public Schools. We turn red dots green.

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Green Dot Public Schools

1149 S. Hill St., Ste 600
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Phone: (323) 565-1600