The 2018 Fellows
When we opened applications for the inaugural Obama Foundation Fellowship, over 20,000 people from 191 countries applied. From that incredible pool, we’ve selected 20 inaugural Fellows who represent 11 countries around the world.
These Obama Foundation Fellows are powerful examples of the many pathways we can take to improve our communities. These civic leaders bring a variety of disciplines and skill sets to their work – including community organizing, healthcare, technology, and the arts – and they apply those talents to a range of missions, from empowering parents and teachers to improve our schools, to ensuring deaf children have equal access to literacy tools, to bringing trauma-informed care to the criminal justice system and refugee camps, to working with partners across the healthcare system to treat addiction collaboratively.
These leaders are working hand-in-hand with their communities to build better futures. They understand that creating change often requires reaching out across the lines that divide us. And their successes to date show how collaborative, community-driven work can lead to strong, imaginative, and long-lasting solutions – even on some of our most intractable and polarizing problems.
Meet the 2018 class below – and stay tuned to hear more about these leaders and their work over the course of the Fellowship!
Equipping new local leaders across the country to improve their neighborhoods through resident-led, crowdfunded community change
Empowering families most affected by educational inequity in Colorado to organize for change
Celina De Sola
San Salvador, El Salvador
Forging partnerships across institutions and people to empower youth, mobilize action, and build community resilience to reduce poverty and violence
Redesigning teacher training to address the reality of students’ poverty and helping public school teachers become community leaders
Nedgine Paul Deroly
Working with Haitian communities to create a network of civic leaders and build an equitable education system based on shared history, values, and vision.
Improving voter turnout by training elections officials to better communicate with voters and providing civic information through digital platforms
New York, NY / Rwanda
Using community organizing and village grants to foster democratic capacity, inclusion, and growth in rural Africa
Los Angeles, CA
Empowering justice-involved youth through arts, education, and vocational programs
London, UK / Greece
Providing psychological first aid to refugees, making mental health care integral to all relief efforts
Equipping a new movement of female leaders to engage their communities in addressing India’s toughest problems
Building a collaborative, community-based approach to the opioid crisis, changing how addiction is treated in Ohio
Fighting corruption in Mali by celebrating honest civil servants
Building digital tools to help citizens push for transparency and good governance in Hungary
San Francisco, CA / New York, NY
Building a movement of diverse, upwardly mobile college grads overcoming underemployment through digital skills and peer connections
Johannesburg, South Africa
Building a digital platform to enable Black South African women to organize around the issues that most affect their lives
London, UK / Manchester, UK
Fighting loneliness and polarization in the UK by connecting seniors and young professionals to build new and lasting relationships
Dominique Jordan Turner
Equipping under-resourced youth to get to and through college, find meaningful careers, and become the next generation of Chicago leaders
Transforming the lives of young people convicted of serious crimes, equipping them to become valuable members of the community