Nike has donated 5 million dollars to the Obama Foundation for the creation of a new athletic facility. The Obama Presidential Center, which will be constructed in Jackson Park on the south side of Chicago, will feature gardens, a children’s playground, a small sledding hill in the winter, and walking paths. There will also be a public plaza for community gatherings and to host performances, a museum that charts the eight-year history of Obama’s historic presidency, an auditorium, and it will be a 5000-square-foot public library branch. The athletic facility will be the first public facility to be offered by a presidential center. As Obama stated, when he unveiled his plans for the new project, “It wouldn’t be the Obama Presidential Center without a place to play some ball.”
Revered across the globe, Nike joined Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Active Schools campaign in 2013. Nike invested $50 million in America’s schools to increase the physical activity of kids in schools and communities. The addition of the athletic facility represents how much sports and recreation are interwoven into the identities of Michelle and President Obama and celebrates their legacy. The facility will be a community space that is open year-round and accessible to Chicagoans and visitors. Dance classes will be offered, and anyone can join a pickup game. According to Obama.org, it will also provide opportunities for programming partnerships with local institutions, such as Hyde Park Academy, the Chicago Park District, and the Southside YMCA.
Nike is leaning into the social and political discourse of the country. One of the ways that the brand has been taking a stance is by aligning itself and donating to various social justice campaigns and grassroots organizations. Jorge Casimiro, Nike’s Chief Social & Community Impact Officer and Nike Foundation President, expresses that partnering with others helps Nike, “up their game.” He goes on to say, “It’s about listening, learning, and understanding how we can truly serve a community. It’s about coming together with a common purpose to amplify our collective capacity for impact.” On serving communities, Nike asserts that its purpose is to unite the world through sport, create a healthy planet, active communities, and an equal playing field for all.
Casimiro hopes that the new facility will be “a place to inspire, a place to learn and a place to reflect, but also-as befitting a president who brought his love of hoops from the South Side of Chicago to the South Lawn of the White House.”
Kelly Washington, Contributing Writer