I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change, but in yours.”
Farewell Address, January 2017
I first moved to Chicago in my early twenties, still trying to figure out who I was, still searching for a purpose in my life. And it was in Chicago where, working with church groups in the shadows of shuttered steel mills, I learned the lesson that would animate my career: that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it.
It’s the idea at the heart of progress—the conviction that even through hardship and setback, we can come together to change for the better—that gave me work and purpose, and that has given work and purpose to each new generation.
Cultivating that concept of active citizenship is something we made the mission of our campaigns and the eight years Michelle and I spent in the White House. And it remains the mission of our lives after the White House with the Obama Foundation.
I can honestly say that even though I’ve had the extraordinary privilege to serve as President, I’m more convinced than ever that real, lasting change doesn’t come from any one person. It comes only when everybody works together to win and protect progress.
That’s why the Obama Foundation is about inspiring, empowering, and connecting the next generation of young leaders to change their communities, their countries, and our world for the better.
In these pages, you’ll read a number of stories about how our Foundation has already inspired people to help improve their communities. You’ll see how we’re working hand-in-hand with local residents to create a new landmark on the South Side that will create broad-based economic opportunity in the community and benefit the public. And you’ll hear how we’re working with a new generation of emerging leaders to extend the impact they’re already making in the world.
The work of our Foundation won’t be easy, nor will it be accomplished overnight. Lasting change takes patience and persistence. It takes resilience amidst setbacks and disappointments. And it takes hope—that times can get better, that progress can be made, that history can be shaped—as long as all of us play our part.