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Strengthening Democracy

President Obama sits on stage and speaks into a microphone wearing a dark gray suit. Three young people with medium-light skin tones sit to his right looking and listening to him wearing business attire.

Right now, democracy is currently facing challenges everywhere.

We see this in instances of conflict, weakening democratic systems, and the rise in polarization and disinformation affecting discourse, culture, and elections in numerous countries, including the United States. 

The Obama Foundation and President Obama are dedicated to building and strengthening democratic culture in the United States and around the world by developing the leaders and organizations who represent the democratic values and work so essential to democracy. 

We need to build democracy for the future, not the past. And what gives me hope is the promise and potential of the next generation of leaders who are coming up, young people who understand that the future of democracy, and in fact, the very planet that we live on, hangs in the balance. These young people are ready to do the work, and many of them are already deeply engaged in the project of rebuilding our democracies.”

President Obama

As the war in Ukraine rages on and disinformation continues to spread online, President Obama spoke in 2022 at Stanford University about the leaders in our network addressing the issue and shared a new North Star vision for the Internet—and how we can all be a part of it. 

President Obama raises his hand to speak at a table full of people with various skin tones.

President Obama sits down with Stanford students and Obama Foundation program participants to discuss disinformation and challenges to democracy at Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center on April, 21, 2022.

During the Copenhagen Democracy Summit in April 2022, President Obama delivered closing remarks and joined a panel discussion with four of our European Leaders: Tudor Bradatan, Selvije Mustafi, Sahra-Josephine Hjorth, and Federica Vinci. In his remarks, he underscored the importance of a positive vision for democracy. In his conversation with Leaders, the Leaders demonstrated the promise of the next generation to chart a better course. 

He also laid out four key ways that we can all act to protect and strengthen democracy: 

Developing models for economies that are more equitable and work better for more people.

Revitalizing our political institutions so that people believe participation is worth the effort.

Building a democratic culture.

Detoxifying our discourse to address disinformation, conspiracy theories, and hate. 

Building a democratic culture is an underlying current through all of our programs and the leaders we serve who have the values, vision, and willpower to continue this urgent work. 

To close out the year, we hosted the first Obama Foundation Democracy Forum in New York City, in partnership with Columbia University and the University of Chicago, to bring together hundreds of emerging leaders from across our programs, supporters, leading experts, and practitioners who shared with us, and each other, evidence-based  strategies to strengthen our institutions and protecting democratic values. 

President Obama’s remarks highlighted the state of democracy around the world, curbing disinformation, and the importance of a new generation of leaders to safeguard institutions and build a more sustainable future. He then joined leaders from our network—Doussouba Konaté, Natalia Herbst, Landisang Kotaro, and Nick Antipov—to hear their perspectives and the work they're doing to expand and strengthen democracies.

We are proud to have spent another year listening to the dedicated leaders in our network,  showcasing the progress our network is making on some of the most challenging issues we face, and exchanging ideas and solutions to bring change home. 


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