Inspired by Americans: Next step for the Obama Foundation

Thursday September 14 2017

The Obama Foundation Fellowship seeks to lift

The Obama Foundation Fellowship seeks to lift up the amazing work of organizers, inventors, artists, entrepreneurs, journalists and other young innovators. PHOTO| AFP 

By THOMAS RAJULA
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When former US president Barack Obama left office in January, he and Michelle started the Obama Foundation to join the world’s private citizens in helping shape the future for generations to come.

The foundation simply had a domain and invited others to join them in this next phase of their life - making the foundation a product of different collections of ideas committed to its progress.

EMPOWERING AND EQUIPPING CIVIC INNOVATORS

In the meantime, the foundation was used to spreading messages of hope from everyday people who had inspirational stories to share with those registered as volunteers and contributors to the foundation.

After taking a much needed break from being leaders of the free world for eight years, the Obamas are finally putting the foundation to work. Obama said the foundation will be “an experiment in modern citizenship” and will “focus on empowering and equipping civic innovators and young leaders with the skills and tools they need to create change in their communities.”

The foundation will seek to elevate outstanding civic innovators – individuals from around the world working with fellow citizens to tackle big challenges – and to lift up amazing work that organizers, inventors, artists, entrepreneurs, journalists and others are doing to show that each person has a role to play in civic life.

‘DEMOCRACY IS A JOB FOR ALL OF US’

On October 31 and November 1, the Obama Foundation will welcome civic leaders from around the world for a two-day immersive event in Chicago. During this inaugural Summit, hundreds of leaders from all over will come together to exchange ideas, explore creative solutions to common problems, and experience civic art, technology, and music from around the world. The summit will also help guide the foundation continue to design programs that connect and support the next generation of young leaders around the world.

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What Obama said:

Hello

When I left office in January, I asked of you the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me back in 2008. I asked you to believe -- not in my ability to bring about change, but in yours.

A few months ago, Michelle and I launched this new experiment in modern citizenship -- the Obama Foundation -- to help more people find their own voice. And we turned to you first.

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. 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.

We're going to focus on empowering and equipping civic innovators and young leaders with the skills and tools 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.

We're launching the Obama Foundation Fellowship to support and elevate outstanding civic innovators -- individuals from around the world who are working with their fellow citizens to tackle big challenges. We want to lift up the amazing work that organizers, inventors, artists, entrepreneurs, journalists, and others are doing -- and if we do it right, together we'll show the world that each of us has a role to play in our civic life. Apply now, or pass this message along to someone you know who's changing the world.

We've also heard from thousands of young people just getting engaged for the first time, asking for help on how to get started. So, we're putting together a series of Training Days across the country -- starting in Chicago -- to teach young people how to put civics into action where they live.

Finally, we heard how much you want to hear from one another -- from folks who aren't like you, who live in different places and experience different challenges. So this October, we're bringing together hundreds of civic leaders from all around the world to Chicago for a hands-on exchange of ideas.

This Summit will be a place to share your stories, learn from one another, and then go back to your communities to lead others in the hard work of change. It will also help guide our Foundation as we continue to design programs that connect and support the next generation of young leaders here in the United States and around the globe. Learn more about what's in store, and how you can be a part of it.

Welcome to the next phase of this organization -- inspired by you.

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.

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.

- Barack