The Story of Our Name

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

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 representation of the geographic inequity in resources and opportunities.

Steve Barr focused on the red dots; recognizing them as communities rich with an untapped potential that were largely disconnected from the city’s broader network of opportunity. This powerful visual of the green- and red-dotted map led Steve 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 creating pathways to  opportunity through a high quality and free education; to plug historically 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.

Since our founding 20 years ago, several leaders have been at Green Dot’s helm, helping further our mission, as we have grown in impact and scale, now serving approximately 15,000 students with 18 schools in Los Angeles, 5 in Memphis, and 1 in Southeast Texas.


 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.

Green Dot Public Schools National

1149 S. Hill St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015

(323) 565-1600