Obama Foundation To Focus On Civic Engagement Programs For Young People

Former U.S. President Barack Obama smiles during a discussion event on democracy and global responsibility at a Protestant conference in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, May 25, 2017, when Germany marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)
Gero Breloer/AP

Former President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced his foundation’s first set of civic engagement programs coming this fall, which are all designed to expand opportunities for young people in the U.S. and around the world.

The programming at each event will reflect feedback Obama received from young people and supporters about what his Foundation should offer, he said.

“We asked you what this organization ought to look like. What its goals should be. What work is going on out there that we should lift up,” he said in an email to supporters. “And you delivered beyond what we could have hoped for. Based on what we’ve heard from you, I’m here to tell you what’s next.”

He said the organization is going to “focus on empowering and equipping civic innovators and young leaders” with what they need to “create change in their communities.”

“We’ll spotlight the incredible individuals and projects around the world that are making an impact, and convene those that are tackling challenges in their own backyards,” he said.

The first event, a one-day civics training program, will be held in Chicago on Oct. 14, as well as in Boston and Tempe, Arizona in November.

About 150 young people will attend each training to learn how to get involved in their local municipalities for the first time. The trainings will be hosted by the Obama Foundation and other partner organizations. 

At the end of October, Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama will host a two-day summit in Chicago for young people from all over the world to gather and share ideas and problem solve.

The foundation also announced its Obama Foundation Fellowship program and its plans to ally with the My Brother’s Keeper organization.

“A diverse set” of 20 young people will be chosen for the two-year fellowship, according to the Foundation.

“From the day we launched the Foundation, I told you that even as we experiment, even as we try and fail as humans do, there would be one constant in our work — our commitment to progress,” Obama said. “Democracy is a job for all of us. What are you going to do about it? I’ve never been more certain that we’ll rise to the occasion — together.”

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