Rooted in Chicago
The city of Chicago carries a long and storied tradition of community engagement, from Jane Addams to Ida B. Wells to Harold Washington. It was that tradition which helped draw President Obama to Chicago in the first place. And it is that tradition that guides our relationship with our community.
Every community deserves a gathering place.
“The vision for this isn’t just about the Obama Presidential Center,” Mrs. Obama said at the 2019 Obama Foundation Summit. “It’s about the South Side of Chicago. It’s about our neighborhood and community.”
Places have a lasting effect on our lives. And every community deserves a space that lifts up young people, that is vibrant and alive, and inspires everyone who visits. While children can play in Maggie Daley park, tourists can stroll down Navy Pier, and young professionals can jog on the 606, the South Side hasn’t benefited from the same type of investment in public architecture. The Obama Presidential Center is an opportunity to change that. It’s a chance to work hand-in-hand with our neighbors to create a world-class gathering place for the South Side.
Free, public areas will make the Obama Presidential Center a welcome space to catch up with an old friend or wind down with a good book. A new branch of the Chicago Public Library will offer young people a place to learn about history, while leadership trainings hosted in the Forum building will help them make it. And a playground and outdoor space unlike any in Chicago will offer children a chance to get active and let their imaginations soar.
And we’re building the Obama Presidential Center for our community, with our community—a place with global reach and local roots. Since we first announced the Center, we’ve sought out feedback from our neighbors to help shape the Center’s design, location, and architecture. And we’ve partnered with the Lakeside Alliance, a joint venture of five construction firms, four of which are local and minority-owned, to help construct it.
Tour the South Side of Chicago
We follow the Obama Scholars as they learn about the history of the South Side—both the distant past and the recent present.Read More
Chicago’s South Side has always been full of potential. It’s time it was met with opportunity.
When we first started thinking about what the Obama Presidential Center could be, one thing was clear: It should invest back into the community that gave President and Mrs. Obama so much. With the help of our community, we can write a new chapter for the South Side of Chicago—one that focuses on the region’s strengths rather than its deficits.
Through our commitment to working with local and diverse vendors and the economic activity the Center will bring to the South Side of Chicago, we can help drive an economic revival that’s bigger than one project or one neighborhood, tying together every part of the regional economy.
Our investment in the community has already begun. To date, we’ve spent nearly $18 million with diverse vendors on the creation of the Obama Presidential Center, with $16 million invested in Chicago-based businesses. When the Obama Presidential Center doors open, it’s projected to generate over $3 billion of new economic activity over ten years across the city.
Neighbors Who Inspire Us
From artists to organizers, tennis pros to professors, dancers to carpenters, here are a few of the neighbors that inspire us.
From walking with our neighbors in the Chicago Pride and Bud Billiken Day Parades, to cleaning up Rainbow Beach with the Honeycomb Project on Mandela Day, to beaming in changemakers from around the world to have virtual conversations with festival-goers at Lollapalooza, we’re taking every opportunity to engage with our community. Check out photo highlights from our our time with the Chicago community and check back for upcoming events and updates!
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