Congressman Jared Polis of Boulder was elected to Congress in 2008 and represents the Second Congressional District of Colorado. Polis is a standing member of the House Science and Technology Committee, and serves on the House Rules Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee and Subcommittees on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness, and Healthy Families and Communities. He is also the freshman member of the House Democratic Steering Committee and Vice Chairman and Whip of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition. To date, he is the first openly gay male elected to Congress.
A Boulder native born on May 12, 1975 to parents active in the 1960s peace movement, Congressman Polis believes in the need to build upon the legacy and idealism of past generations and works in Congress to pragmatically create a peaceful, prosperous, and safe world for generations to come.
While attending Princeton University, Polis co-founded his first company, American Information Systems, and has since launched several successful business ventures, including: bluemountainarts.com, Proflowers.com and other online start-ups; a chain of movie theaters that screen first-run Hollywood films dubbed or subtitled in Spanish, including Cinema Latino in Aurora, CO; and most recently, Open Ocean Aquaculture. He was named an “Entrepreneur of the Year” by Ernst and Young and one of America’s “Top Ten Young Entrepreneurs” by Success Magazine.
After his early and successful start in the business sector, Polis quickly came to realize and value the important role education plays in the U.S. economy. He feels that education is the only meaningful, long-term stimulus initiative that can be made to invest in and reinvigorate the American economy.
With this in mind, he ran for and won a seat on the Colorado State Board of Education in 2000 and served as the youngest Chairman in the history of the Board. During his six-year tenure, Polis strongly advocated school reform and enhancing educational opportunities. He played an instrumental role in the passage of Amendment 23 to improve state funding for public schools in Colorado.
Also in 2000, Polis founded the Jared Polis Foundation to improve and expand access to education by awarding micro-grants to teachers and schools that have shown outstanding commitment to their community in education. The Foundation’s Community Computer Connection program refurbishes and donates more than 3,500 computers a year to schools and non-profit organizations that serve disadvantaged students.
Polis also founded two innovative charter schools to help meet the needs of Colorado’s underserved students. In 2004, seeing the difficulty faced by older immigrant youth in mainstream public schools, he established and served as the superintendent of the New America School. Today, the New America School operates four campuses in Colorado and plans to open a campus in New Mexico to extend the benefits of English literacy and a high school liberal arts education to all students. In the fall of 2005, he co-founded the Academy of Urban Learning to address the challenges faced by teens who struggle with homelessness or unstable living conditions.
Polis has served on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Conservation Voters, the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, the Anti-Defamation League, and as Vice-Chairman of the Colorado Commission for High School Improvement and Chairman of the National Association of State Boards of Education’s Commission on Financial and Investor Literacy.
Source: Congressman Jared Polis, U.S. House of Representatives