Rye Barcott

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Rye Barcott
Rye Barcott black white.jpg
Born 1979 (age 38–39)
Residence North Carolina, USA
Nationality US
Alma mater University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Harvard University
Occupation Author
U.S. military
Organization Carolina for Kibera
Double Time Capital
With Honor
Title Cofounder & CEO
Spouse(s) Tracy Barcott
Website It Happened on the Way to War

Rye Barcott (born 1979) is a social entrepreneur and the author of It Happened on the Way to War. He previously co-founded Carolina for Kibera and Double Time Capital. He was a human intelligence officer in the United States Marine Corps, achieving the rank of captain. Currently, he is the CEO of With Honor, a new movement led by veterans focused on building a cross-partisan coalition of next-generation veterans in the United States Congress in order to help fix our America’s broken, hyper-polarized politics.

Background and early life[edit]

Barcott was born in Rhode Island. His father attended Miami University on an Reserve Officers' Training Corps scholarship and went on to serve in the Marines' 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion during the Vietnam War. His father left the Marines as a captain after receiving a Bronze Star Medal and a Purple Heart in combat. His parents met as graduate students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Barcott's mother is a nurse and anthropologist who teaches at the University of Rhode Island.[1] Barcott knew from an early age that he wanted to be a Marine. Barcott traveled to Kenya for the first time with his parents when he was 14 and his experiences with the extreme poverty of the country are what drove him to return to the region as a college student. Barcott initially applied to the United States Naval Academy but was turned down. As a result, he instead applied for an NROTC scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Barcott attended East Greenwich High School. He graduated in 2001 with highest honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he studied economics and anthropology. He attended UNC on a four-year U.S. Marine Corps NROTC Scholarship. In 2009, Barcott graduated with an MPA and MBA from Harvard University as a Center for Public Leadership Social Entrepreneurship Fellow and George Leadership Fellow. Harvard University President Drew Faust appointed him to a two-year term on the Harvard Endowment's Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility, and he served as a founding member of the movement to create an MBA Oath.[2] He was elected as a member of the Harvard University Alumni Association Board of Directors in 2016.[3]

Military service[edit]

Barcott served five years on active duty in the Marine Corps, where he attained the rank of captain and deployed to Bosnia, the Horn of Africa, and Iraq.[4] In 2006, he provided written testimony to the Iraq Study Group and authored an article about the Iraqi Military Intelligence Academy in Proceedings, the professional journal of the U.S. Navy.[5] ABC World News with Charles Gibson covered his work in Kibera and his military service in Iraq and named him a Person of the Week and a 2006 Person of the Year.[6] The ABC World News story quoted him encouraging young Americans to expose themselves "to how the majority of the world lives … and I think it'll make you a lot more appreciative of what you've got … make you a better American and a better global citizen."

The U.S. Department of Defense awarded Barcott with the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal. The President of the United States appointed him to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board as a representative of the veteran community.[7]


Barcott is the author of the critically acclaimed[8] memoir It Happened on the Way to War (Bloomsbury Publishing). The book's dedication to Carolina For Kibera cofounders Salim Mohamed and Tabitha Atieno Festo includes a phrase that captures the central theme of the book: "Talent is universal; opportunity is not."

In 2001, Barcott co-edited with Dr. Carolyn Pumphrey Armed Conflict in Africa, a book that analyzed the sources of violence in Africa. His post-9/11 letters with Salim Mohamed were published in Andrew Carroll’s War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars (Scribner, 2001). He contributed to Passion and Purpose, 27 Views of Charlotte, and 65 Successful Harvard Business School Application Essays. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post,[9] The New York Times,[10] and CNN.[11]

In 2007, he delivered the commencement address to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health.[12] He is the 2018 commencement speaker for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.[13] As an inaugural TED Fellow, he gave a TED speech on “The Power of Participatory Development."[14] He is represented by the American Program Bureau and frequently speaks at colleges and high schools.

It Happened on the Way to War was one of four books selected for the TED 2011 Book Club, and was named best nonfiction title in 2011 by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.[15] In 2011, Reader's Digest named the book as one of four top nonfiction titles of the year.

Dartmouth College awarded Barcott a Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2016.[16]

Social enterprise and career[edit]

Carolina for Kibera[edit]

While an undergraduate at the UNC in 2001, Barcott founded Carolina for Kibera (CFK) in Kenya with Salim Mohamed and Tabitha Atieno Festo, who each shared the conviction that the poor have the solutions to the problems they face. CFK started as a small inter-ethnic soccer program and medical clinic run out of Festo’s ten-by-ten foot shack. Today it is a major affiliated entity of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. More than 5,000 youth participate in its holistic youth programs, and the Tabitha Clinic treats more than 20,000 patients a year in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.[17]

Because of CFK's innovations in youth programming and participatory development, TIME Magazine and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation named CFK a "Hero of Global Health" at the Global Health Summit in 2005.[18] TIME for Kids featured CFK on the cover of its March 30, 2007 edition.[19] Harvard Business School wrote a case study on Carolina For Kibera that has been taught in graduate schools around the world.[20]

In 2004, Canadian Musician Sarah McLachlan concluded her award-winning music video “World on Fire” with footage of CFK’s soccer tournaments and medical clinic in Kibera. Two years later, CFK published LIGHTBOX: Expressions of Hope from Young Women in the Kibera Slum." This book of essays and photographs from disposable or simple point-and-shoot cameras gives voice to the young and courageous women of CFK's Daughters United members.[21]

In 2007, then Senator Barack Obama visited CFK’s youth center and gave a speech calling for ethnic unity and education in Kibera.[22] CFK played an important role in providing emergency aid during the Kenyan post-election violence in 2008, and for its efforts the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum honored CFK as its recipient of the Reflections of Hope Award in a ceremony with the former ABC World News Anchor Bob Woodruff and his wife Lee.[23]

Film producer Beth-Ann Kutchma and Director Jason Arthurs completed a documentary that profiles two young leaders from different ethnic groups who are part of CFK and compete in the organization's annual Champions Football League. The film, Without a Fight, released at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Spring 2012.[24] In 2016, CFK co-founder Salim Mohamed was named an Eisenhower Fellow.[25]

Double Time Capital[edit]

Barcott co-founded Double Time Capital in 2013 as an impact investment firm focused on clean energy and sustainability. As of February 2017, “Double Time has financed 36 solar energy projects, which collectively produce roughly 10% of North Carolina’s solar power and power around 30,000 homes in the state.”[26] At that time, North Carolina was the second ranked state in the United States based on the cumulative amount of solar electric capacity installed.[27]

With Honor[edit]

Barcott co-founded With Honor in 2017 with David Gergen and other veterans. With Honor is a new cross-partisan movement led by veterans focused on increasing the number of next-generation veterans in Congress in order to help fix our America’s broken politics. With Honor will support a select group of veteran candidates who take The With Honor Pledge to put principles before politics, and lead with civility, integrity, and courage, including the courage to take specific actions like meeting with someone from another party once a month and sponsoring legislation with a member of another party at least once every year.

With Honor's advisory board[28] includes post-9/11 veterans and Gold Star family members—J.D. Vance, Nathaniel Fick, Ryan Manion[29], and Jake Wood[30]—as well as prominent American leaders such as Secretary George Shultz, Secretary Robert Gates, Admiral Michael Mullen, Senator Tom Daschle, Governor Dirk Kempthorne, Jane Holl Lute, David Gergen, Michèle Flournoy, and Professor Michael Porter.

With Honor's disruptive political effort has been covered by MSNBC's Morning Joe[31], Fox News' Fox & Friends[32], The Atlantic[33], and other media. Admiral Michael Mullen and Elliot Ackerman authored an op-ed in USA Today announcing With Honor's first slate of candidate endorsements.[34] Former Senators Richard Lugar and Tom Daschle wrote in U.S. News & World Report about With Honor and new research by The Lugar Center illustrating how veterans in Congress have historically been more bi-partisan than non-veterans.[35]

With Honor is partnered with the U.S. Competitiveness Project, which is led by the office of Michael Porter.[36] The project has identified the polarization of U.S. political institutions as one of the top strategic threats to U.S. economic competitiveness. In a 2017 report, Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America, Michael Porter and Katherine Gehl wrote: "Politics in America is not a hopeless problem, though it is easy to feel this way given what we experience and read about every day. There are promising reforms already gaining traction including important elements of the strategy we propose. It is up to us as citizens to recapture our democracy—it will not be self-correcting."[37]


  1. ^ "Professor Donna Schwartz-Barcott URI profile". 
  2. ^ "Who We Are - The MBA Oath". 
  3. ^ "HAA Board of Directors" (PDF). alumni.harvard.edu. Retrieved 26 April 2018. 
  4. ^ Barcott on It Happened on the Way to War at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library
  5. ^ Barcott, Rye. ""No Torture"-It's a Start". usni.org. Proceedings Magazine. Retrieved 26 April 2018. 
  6. ^ "American in Iraq Fights Two Wars at Once". ABC News. 4 May 2007. 
  7. ^ "President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts". ObamaWhiteHouseArchives.gov. The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. Retrieved 17 April 2018. 
  8. ^ Ghosh, Bobby (2011-05-23). "Do Former Soldiers Make the Best Social Workers? | World | TIME.com". Globalspin.blogs.time.com. Retrieved 2012-09-18. 
  9. ^ Rye Barcott (2011-05-30). "All Americans have a duty to honor Memorial Day". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-09-18. 
  10. ^ Barcott, Rye (2011-05-18). "When It Comes to Helping Others: Just Do It - NYTimes.com". Kristof.blogs.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2012-09-18. 
  11. ^ Barcott, Rye. "Why military veterans make great employees". CNN.com. Retrieved 26 April 2018. 
  12. ^ "Commencement weekend: School of Public Health welcomes new alumni". SPH.UNC.edu. Retrieved 17 April 2018. 
  13. ^ Cook, Jeni. "Rye Barcott, social entrepreneur, to speak at UNC-Chapel Hill Commencement". UNCNews.edu. Retrieved 16 April 2018. 
  14. ^ "Rye Barcott - TED Fellow - TED.com". 
  15. ^ "North Carolina Literary and Historical Association Award Winners Database". ncdcr.gov. Retrieved 26 April 2018. 
  16. ^ Silverstein, Hannah. "Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee to Speak at Commencement". News.Dartmouth.edu. Retrieved 26 April 2018. 
  17. ^ Center For Strategic and International Studies, The Commission on Smart Global Health Policy, August 10, 2009
  18. ^ "Carolina for Kibera honored as 'hero of global health' this week at Time Magazine summit". sph.unc.edu. Retrieved 26 April 2018. 
  19. ^ "Carolina For Kibera, Inc. Youth Sports Program" (PDF). globalgiving.org. Retrieved 26 April 2018. 
  20. ^ McGinn, Kathleen L.; Kutchma, Beth-Ann; Hammer, Cailin B. (17 October 2012). "Carolina for Kibera" – via www.hbs.edu. 
  21. ^ "Binti Pamoja Girls Program". CFK.UNC.edu. Retrieved 27 April 2018. 
  22. ^ "Sen. Obama visits Nairobi slum". 28 August 2006. 
  23. ^ "Past Winners". OklahomaCityNationalMemorial.org. Retrieved 26 April 2018. 
  24. ^ Ladye Jane @ New Raleigh. "Raleigh Director, Jason Arthurs', Film 'Without A Fight' at Full Frame 2012". New Raleigh. Retrieved 2012-09-18. 
  25. ^ "Eisenhower Fellows". 
  26. ^ Quittner, Jeremy. "These Marines Beat the Odds to Build a Solar Energy Fund". Fortune.com. Retrieved 16 April 2018. 
  27. ^ "North Carolina Solar". SEIA.org. Retrieved 16 April 2018. 
  28. ^ "With Honor Advisors". WithHonor.org. Retrieved March 30, 2018. 
  29. ^ "Travis Manion Foundation - President". Travis Manion Foundation. Retrieved March 30, 2018. 
  30. ^ "Jake Wood - Keynote Speaker and Author". jakewood.co. Retrieved March 30, 2018. 
  31. ^ "Organization puts support behind vets running for office". MSNBC.com. Retrieved March 30, 2018. 
  32. ^ "'With Honor' supports veterans running for Congress". Fox News. Retrieved March 30, 2018. 
  33. ^ "A New Group Wants to Elect More Veterans--From Both Parties". The Atlantic. Retrieved March 30, 2018. 
  34. ^ "Can veterans rescue Congress from its partisan paralysis? Mullen and Ackerman". USA Today. 
  35. ^ "Congress Needs More Veterans". USNews.com. Retrieved March 30, 2018. 
  36. ^ "U.S. Competitiveness-About the Project". HBS.edu. Retrieved March 30, 2018. 
  37. ^ Gehl, Katherine; Porter, Michael. "Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America" (PDF). HBS.edu. Retrieved March 30, 2018. 

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