Today, President Obama announced in a video and e-mail the first set of Obama Foundation initiatives to inspire and empower young people to change their world. More than a building or a museum, the Foundation will be a living, working center for citizenship — continuously developing as we learn from leaders across the country and the globe. And, we’re starting well before we break ground on the Obama Presidential Center. The Center will be located on the South Side of Chicago, but will have projects all over the city, the country, and the world through partnerships, programs, and digital initiatives.
Today, the Foundation announced several initiatives to empower and equip civic innovators and young people with the skills and tools needed to change their communities: The Obama Foundation Summit, Obama Foundation Fellowship, Obama Foundation Training Days, and the integration of the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance into the Obama Foundation later this year.
“When President Obama left public office in January, he asked people to believe—not in his ability to bring about change, but in their own. Over the last nine months, the Foundation has been soliciting input from people in Chicago, all over the country, and around the world to learn about what’s working in your communities and to identify barriers to civic participation. The initiatives announced today reflect the input from those conversations. From leaders who are already making an impact, to people who are interested in becoming more involved, but don’t know where to start, our goal is to make our programs accessible to anyone, anywhere, with any background or level of experience. This is only the beginning — our programs will grow as we continue to listen and learn,” said David Simas, Chief Executive Officer at the Obama Foundation.
● Obama Foundation Summit: On October 31st and November 1st, the Obama Foundation will welcome civic leaders from around Chicago, the U.S., and the world to join President and Mrs. Obama for an inaugural Summit. During this two-day immersive event in Chicago, hundreds of young leaders will come together to exchange ideas, explore creative solutions to common problems, and experience civic art, technology, and music from around the world. Watch President Obama’s Summit announcement video HERE.
● Obama Foundation Fellowship: The Obama Foundation Fellowship seeks to support and elevate outstanding civic innovators from around the world in order to amplify the impact of their remarkable work and to inspire a powerful wave of civic innovation. Obama Foundation Fellows will be a diverse set of twenty community-minded rising stars—organizers, inventors, artists, entrepreneurs, journalists, and more—who are radically altering the civic engagement landscape.
The two-year, non-residential Fellowship will offer hands-on training, resources, and leadership development. Fellows will also participate in four multi-day gatherings where they will collaborate with each other, connect with potential partners and resources, and collectively push their work forward. Throughout the program, each Fellow will pursue a personalized plan to leverage Fellowship resources to take their work to the next level. Applications for the inaugural fellowship class are open at Obama.org/Fellowship.
● Obama Foundation Training Days: Starting in Chicago next month, the Obama Foundation will host three pilot Training Days – one-day experiences in locations around the country—to teach young people how to put “civics” into action, use their own story as a powerful tool for change, and become more active in shaping their communities. Each Training Day will include 150 young participants, ages 18 to 24. The Foundation has partnered with diverse organizations in each community—from universities to churches to opportunity youth organizations—to help us design and lead these trainings. The first Training Day will take place in Chicago, IL on October 14th, with additional trainings in Boston, MA and Tempe, AZ in November. These pilot trainings will enable the Foundation to listen and learn from participants and shape the Foundation’s programming going forward as we scale our work.
● My Brother’s Keeper Alliance: President Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper in February 2014 to address persistent opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color, and in 2015 the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance was launched to scale and sustain the mission. Later this year, the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance will become an initiative of the Obama Foundation. Within the Foundation, MBKA will focus on building safe and supportive communities for boys and young men of color where they feel valued and have clear pathways to opportunity.
In January 2017, the Obama Foundation re-launched its website at Obama.org, with a video from President and Mrs. Obama and Medium post from Obama Foundation Board Chair Marty Nesbitt soliciting feedback and input from individuals around the world. In July 2017, Obama Foundation Chief Digital Officer Glenn Brown wrote Obama Foundation followers requesting their ideas about what it means to be a good citizen online and their approach to digital citizenship. This spring, President Obama has met with young leaders in Chicago, Berlin, and Jakarta to hear about their experiences and challenges in civic engagement first hands.
To watch President Obama’s video, please view HERE. A script of the video is below: When I left office in January, I asked of you the same thing I asked you way back in 2008. I asked you to believe – not in my ability to bring about change, but in yours.
When Michelle and I launched the Obama Foundation, we turned to you first. We wanted to hear your ideas, and help you lift up good work that’s already going on in your communities.
We read your letters, your emails, and your submissions to Obama.org. I sat down with young people from Chicago to Berlin to Jakarta to hear directly from the future leaders we want to cultivate.
And what makes me so hopeful and optimistic is that so many of you have shown up, dived in, and embraced the kind of active citizenship that makes our democracy work.
Civic leaders like Sheldon Smith, a Chicagoan who works to instill young African-American dads, like himself, with the skills to be positive role models and responsible parents.
Like Trisha Shetty, who started an organization in India aimed at helping victims of sexual abuse find resources and support online.
And like Emily May, a New Yorker who’s working to bridge divides by bringing people with diverse views together over the simple joys of a shared meal and honest conversation.
One of the things you told us is how much you want to hear from one another — from folks who aren’t like you, who live in different places and are tackling unique challenges of their own.
That’s why, this October, we’re bringing together hundreds of leaders from all around the world for a hands-on exchange of ideas in my hometown – and the future site of the Obama Presidential Center – the city of Chicago.
This leadership Summit will be a place to gather and learn from one another, and then go back to your communities to lead others in the hard work of change.
In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll be kicking off more initiatives and opportunities for people like you to get involved with the Obama Foundation’s mission. That mission is simple: We want to inspire and empower people to change the world. And we hope you’ll be a part of it.
Head over to Obama.org and join us in shaping our next chapter.