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Empowering Chicago Youth Today for a Brighter Tomorrow

Michelle Obama smiles during a circle group meeting with young men and women. They are evenly spaced out and seated wearing formal attire. In the background, there is a graphic on a wall of the word Chicago and a mini map of the city.

Futures Series

In 2021, when Mrs. Obama met with young people from Hyde Park Academy—the high school located right across the street from the site of the Obama Presidential Center—to talk about the students’ career aspirations and what they need to succeed, it sparked the idea for the Futures Series. The series was such a success that Mrs. Obama joined students again in 2022. 

This ongoing collaboration with Hyde Park Academy brings speakers from all types of fields to share their career journeys with the students. The program speaks to our commitment to inspire, empower, and connect people to change their world. And it’s initiatives like this that will be the core of our work at the future Center. 

Speakers from the 2022-2023 school year included: 

Dion Dawson, Dion’s Chicago Dream

Marty Nesbitt, The Vistra Group and Chairman of the Obama Foundation Board of Directors

Darnell Reed, Luella’s Southern Kitchen

Melvin Rodriguez, Mielle Organics

Muholi Zanele, Artist 

Hebru Brantley, Artist

Dr. Selwyn O. Rogers, University of Chicago Medicine Trauma Center.

Local Lunchbox 

Local Lunchbox was originally founded in Chelsea, Massachusetts, by the Shah Family Foundation, an organization that supports transformative work in education, health care, and the community. 

The program connects nonprofits, schools, and other community organizations that serve young people with local chefs to serve delicious, healthy, and culturally relevant meals to kids and teens 18 and under. 

Together with our partners, we are proud to be the first organizations to bring the healthy food program to the city of Chicago, which is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture. In 2022, we served 75,000 meals to over 1,000 young people across the city. 

Inaugural Local Lunchbox program feeds Chicago youth

We’re thankful to our partners who made our 2022 cycle a success: 

After School Matters

Gary Comer Youth Center

YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago

Cajun Cafe Chicago

H&B Catering 

Latin Plate Catering

Obama Youth Jobs Corps

The Obama Youth Jobs Corps (Opens in a new tab) is yet another way we’re partnering with a standout organization, Urban Alliance, to help high school students prepare for a promising future. In the 2022-2023 school year, we welcomed six new interns to our offices. 

And because learning always goes beyond the office or classroom, when Urban Alliance celebrated its 25th anniversary in October, Corps alumni Imani P. Muse and Austin Washington led a panel discussion with President Obama at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.