At the Obama Foundation, we're committed to inspiring, empowering, and connecting the next generation of changemakers in our own backyard in Chicago and around the world. This week, President Obama returned home to see our impact in action.
During his time back home in Chicago, President Obama heard from some of the inspiring leaders who represent communities within our My Brother’s Keeper Alliance network. They are the individuals who have shifted outcomes for boys and young men of color through educational or violence prevention ecosystems. At the Impact in Action convening, they exchanged best practices and explored ideas on how to keep boys and young men of color happy, safe, and thriving.
At the event, we announced MBK Model Communities, a new initiative that seeks to expand tangible impact for boys and young men of color across the country. The Model Communities are: Newark, New Jersey; Omaha, Nebraska; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Yonkers, New York.
President Obama moderated a panel with leaders from the four communities on the key factors that have contributed to their community’s success, their strategies for collective impact, and the work that lies ahead.
“Progress is in our reach,” President Obama said during the Impact in Action convening. “Part of what we’re highlighting here today is that with the application of targeted, data-supportive investments, we can make progress in a meaningful time frame. You can actually improve the lives of millions of people that in turn, make our society work better. My main charge to everybody here is to fight cynicism. When work gets hard or something doesn’t work, don’t get discouraged, innovate, and try something new. Be honest about what is working and what isn’t working. Build up trust. Do that internally, but also project that externally to tell the story of your success.”
President Obama’s visit home wouldn’t be complete without connecting with South Side youth. He made a surprise visit at Guitars Over Guns Opens in a new tab, a Chicago nonprofit that exposes youth in underserved communities to music and mentorship. He sat down with the mentors of the program to learn how being a Freedom Summer 2022 grant recipient has afforded them opportunities to create additional programming for Chicago’s youth. He even listened to the students’ freestyles and beats.
President Obama also stopped by the 2023 Obama Scholars graduation to discuss with them the value of place-based changemaking and learn how our Scholars plan to bring change home to their own communities now that they’ve completed their studies. The event was a full circle moment for the president. He returned to the basement of Lilydale First Baptist Church on the South Side—where his organizing career began in 1986—to celebrate with graduates and Pastor Alvin Love.
We’re always excited to support our community and show how the next generation of leaders are already tackling the biggest challenges we’re facing—and President Obama is, too!