Chicago: Where it began
Life at the White House
Equality & Social Progress
Climate & Energy
Our First Tech President
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones that we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”Barack Obama
January 17, 1964
Raised on the South Side
Mrs. Obama, then Michelle Robinson, grew up in a two-story house on Euclid Avenue in Chicago’s South Shore community, and attended elementary school down the street. Her father, Fraser, was a city pump operator and a Democratic precinct captain. Her mother, Marian, was a secretary at the Spiegel catalog, who later stayed home to raise Michelle and her older brother, Craig.
Organizing in Roseland
The years (1985-1988) President Obama spent working as a community organizer on the South Side were “the best education I ever had,” he recalls. As the executive director of the Developing Communities Project (DCP) in the Roseland neighborhood, Obama helped set up a job training program, a college-prep tutoring program, and a tenants’ rights organization in the Altgeld Gardens housing projects.
July 1, 1989
Michelle and Barack’s First Date
In 1989, President Obama took a summer internship at a top Chicago law firm, Sidley & Austin, where a young associate named Michelle Robinson was assigned to be his adviser and show him around. He remembers, “I asked her out. She refused. I kept asking. She kept refusing. Finally, I offered to quit my job, and at last she relented.”
August 1, 1992
The Academic Life: The University of Chicago
Barack Obama taught on the University of Chicago Law School faculty for 12 years until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004. Michelle Obama provided leadership in several senior administrative roles at the University and its medical center.
October 3, 1992
A Promise: The Wedding of Barack and Michelle
In October 3, 1992 Barack and Michelle Obama celebrated their wedding day at the South Shore Cultural Center. Of President Obama’s vows on that day, Mrs. Obama remembers: “Barack didn’t pledge riches, only a life that would be interesting. On that promise he delivered.“
November 3, 1992
Turning Out the Vote on the South Side
1992 was an election year, and Barack Obama became the director of Illinois Project Vote!, an organization focused on registering minority voters. That year, a huge turnout among African Americans forever altered Chicago’s electoral landscape, and a 31-year-old lawyer became a rising political star.
November 5, 1996
A Seat in the State Senate
The State of Illinois elected Barack Obama to the Illinois State Senate in November 1996. He became a leading legislator on a wide range of issues, passing nearly 300 bills aimed at helping children, the elderly, labor unions, and the poor.
July 27, 2004
Barack Obama’s Speech at 2004 DNC Convention
“I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible.”
January 1, 2008
The 2008 Campaign: Yes We Can
Senator Barack Obama, stood on the steps of the Old State Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois on February 10, 2007 and declared his candidacy for President of the United States. Next to him on that day were his wife, Michelle, and daughters, Sasha and Malia. He told listeners that day, “… this campaign can’t only be about me. It must be about us — it must be about what we can do together.“
“So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.”
November 4, 2008
An Historic Night in Grant Park
On November 4, 2008, President-elect Barack Obama gave a victory speech to remember at Grant Park before an estimated crowd of 240,000.
“This is the highlight in Chicago’s history to have the first African American president hail from Chicago and have a president from Chicago. It’s the first time since John F. Kennedy that a president comes from an urban community like ours. That’s a long way. We don’t have to educate him about all the urban problems. He knows them all first hand.”
Letters to President Obama
When President Obama took office, he asked his staff to send him 10 letters from constituents to read every night. These letters—hand-picked from the thousands of emails and handwritten notes that the White House receives every day—represented the stories and concerns of Americans across the country. The President read a new batch of letters every night, and he often visited letter writers in their hometowns and spoke about how these messages have inspired him and his policies.
At Home in the White House
President Obama’s daughters, Malia and Sasha, called the White House Residence their home for eight years during his administration.
Shortly after taking office, President Obama adapted the White House tennis court to allow enough room for a full court game of basketball. The court has played host to a number of distinguished visitors, from college basketball championship teams to Wounded Warrior players.
There’s Always Time for Family Dinner
“When we’re in town here in Washington, in the evenings, 6:30 we want to be at the dinner table with our kids and I want to be helping with the homework.”
When they spent time in the dining room, the Obama family surrounded themselves with artwork and decor that reflected their modern sense of style. By selecting Alma Thomas’ 1966 painting “Resurrection,” the Obamas ensured that she became the first African-American woman artist to be a part of the White House permanent collection.
2009 – 2010
Stabilized an Economy in Crisis
The Obama Administration took steps to help the hardest-hit Americans. Without the Recovery Act’s boost to household incomes, the poverty rate would have risen an additional 1.7 percentage points — which translates into about 5.3 million additional people that would have slipped into poverty in 2010.
The Administration provided tax relief that gave the typical American family a tax cut of $3,600 over the first four years of the Administration — helping to restart job growth — and made important tax cuts permanent for working families and families with college students.
Additionally, the Administration increased benefits and expanded access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps lifting more than 500,000 households out of food insecurity.
Saved the American Auto Industry
The Obama Administration required that Chrysler and General Motors (GM) adopt viable restructuring plans in exchange for temporary federal loan support, including building more fuel efficient cars.
On December 19, 2014, Treasury announced that it had exited the last Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) equity investment under the Auto Industry Financing Program. The auto industry has fully exited the temporary federal programs that supported them, repaying the American taxpayer every dollar and more of what the Obama Administration committed.
The Kitchen Garden
The Kitchen Garden was planted in the spring of 2009 by Mrs. Michelle Obama with the help of students from a local elementary school. The first kitchen garden on White House grounds since Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden during World War II inspired Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to raise a healthier generation of kids.
White House chefs use produce from the garden for preparing meals for the First Family, as well as for official functions like state dinners. Some produce is donated to Miriam’s Kitchen, a local homeless shelter providing services and homemade meals, a soup kitchen near the White House.
“I take great pride in knowing that this little garden will live on as a symbol of the hopes and dreams we all hold of growing a healthier nation for our children.”
Launched Data.gov, Challenge.gov, and BusinessUSA.gov
On his first full day in office, President Obama issued the “Transparency and Open Government” memorandum, making clear that his Administration was “committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness,” and fostering a sense of transparency, public participation, and collaboration amongst the government and the American people.
Since 2009, the Administration made significant progress opening up data sets that have never before been public, and creating new pathways to civic engagement. Today, students are able to compare the cost of college with other significant data points, such as graduation rates and average salaries of graduates to determine where to get the most bang for their buck. Communities can map demographic, income, and school data to promote Fair Housing. Patients can find information on the safety and cost of hospitals, nursing homes, and physicians, empowering them to make smarter health care choices. These diverse tools benefit different groups of people, industries, and communities, yet all rely on one thing: open data.
“Government should be collaborative. Collaboration actively engages Americans in the work of their Government.”
Search over 166,944 datasets on topics such as Agriculture, Climate, Education, Health, Local Government, Manufacturing, or Science & Research.Explore Data.gov
Stabilized a Financial Sector in Crisis
The Treasury invested approximately $245 billion across five bank programs. Each of these programs was established to accomplish different goals as part of the overall effort to stabilize America’s banking system. Because of the aggressive response, the financial system stabilized and Treasury has recovered $275 billion, a nearly $30 billion positive return to the taxpayer. Additionally, the Administration launched programs to restart crucial lending markets for student and auto loans, other forms of consumer credit, housing, and small businesses.
“Now is the time to act boldly and wisely — to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity.”
February 9th, 2010
Helped Kids Get Fit with “Let’s Move!”
In 2009, Mrs. Obama planted the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn to initiate a national conversation around the health and wellbeing of the country. In time, that conversation led to Let’s Move!. Through policy, programs, public awareness, and partnerships, Let’s Move! is about putting children on the path to a healthy future during their earliest months and years; giving parents helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy choices; providing healthier foods in our schools; ensuring that every family has access to healthy, affordable food; and helping children become more physically active.
March 23, 2010
Secured Affordable Health Care for All Americans
Health reform put American families and small business owners in control of their own health care. It made insurance more affordable by providing the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history, reducing premium costs for tens of millions of families and small business owners who had been priced out of coverage. Under the plan, 95% of Americans were insured.
It set up a new competitive health insurance market, giving tens of millions of Americans the same choices of insurance that members of Congress will have, and it brought greater accountability to health care by laying out commonsense rules of the road to keep premiums down and prevent insurance industry abuses and denial of care. It ended discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions. And it put our budget and economy on a more stable path by reducing the deficit by more than $100 billion over ten years — and more than $1 trillion over the second decade — by cutting government overspending and reining in waste, fraud and abuse.
In the six years following the enactment of the ACA, nearly 18 million Americans gained health coverage, and the nation’s uninsured rate shrunk to the lowest ever recorded. Thanks to the ACA, 137 million Americans with private health coverage, including 55 million women and 28 million children, were guaranteed preventive services coverage with no out-of-pocket costs.
White House Champions of Change: One Voice Can Change the World
President Obama challenged us all to help win the future by out-educating, out-innovating, and out-building our competitors in the 21st century. Over the course of his presidency he encouraged citizens to nominate people doing extraordinary things to make a difference in their communities to become Champions of Change.
April 27, 2011
Protected the Health of America’s Waters
In April 2011, the Obama Administration released a national Clean Water Framework that recognized the importance of clean water and healthy watersheds to our economy, environment and communities, and emphasized the importance of partnerships and coordination with states, local communities, stakeholders, and the public to protect public health and water quality, and promote the nation’s energy and economic security.
The Administration worked with policymakers, consumers, farmers and businesses to save water — and save money — through 21st century water management policies and technology, and used the latest science and research to identify and address emerging pollution challenges.
May 2, 2011
Dismantled Al Qaeda’s Leadership
On May 2, 2011, at President Obama’s direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.
June 24, 2011
Investment in Robotics
President Obama’s National Robotics Initiative is part of a broader effort to promote a renaissance of American manufacturing through the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. This initiative focuses on developing robots that work with or beside people to extend or augment human capabilities, taking advantage of the different strengths of humans and robots. As part of this initiative, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, NASA, and the Department of Agriculture are funding $70 million of research for next-generation robotics.
Bo and Sunny: First Dogs
Bo, a male Portuguese Water Dog, joined the Obama family at the White House in April 2009, and Sunny, a female Portuguese Water Dog, came along in August 2013.
January 1, 2012
The 2012 Campaign: Forward
“Tonight in the election, you the American people reminded us that while our road has been hard, while or journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come.”
May 11, 2012
Helped Responsible Homeowners Stay in Their Homes
President Obama made it easier for responsible homeowners to stay in their homes — avoiding foreclosures that would have hurt them and the economy and helping underwater homeowners refinance. In all, more than 10 million mortgage modification and other forms of mortgage assistance were completed to help mitigate the foreclosure crisis.
May 23, 2012
Established the Presidential Innovation Fellows
The Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) program brings the principles, values, and practices of the innovation economy into government through the most effective agents of change we know: our people. This highly-competitive program pairs talented, diverse technologists and innovators with top civil-servants and change-makers working at the highest levels of the federal government to tackle some our nation’s biggest challenges. These teams of government experts and private-sector doers take a user-centric approach to issues at the intersection of people, processes, products, and policy to achieve lasting impact.
On August 17, 2015 President Obama made the Presidential Innovation Fellows program permanent. He noted that to-date fellows have helped,
- Veterans access care and benefits more easily,
- Families have greater access to their electronic medical records,
- Police departments make their data searchable online, and
- Students gain access to high speed internet in school.
“We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government…”
2010 – 2012
Restored the Gulf Coast Ecosystem
On April 20, 2010, the blowout and explosion of the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon resulted in the largest oil spill in U.S. history (Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill).
In response, President Obama issued an Executive Order recognizing the Gulf Coast as a national treasure and addressing the longstanding ecological decline of that region, which was compounded by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
The Executive Order established a Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force (Task Force) to coordinate intergovernmental efforts, planning, and the exchange of information in order to better implement Gulf Coast ecosystem restoration and facilitate appropriate accountability and support throughout the restoration process.
Two years later, building upon the Task Force’s successful collaboration between between Federal, State, and tribal governments, the Administration established the Gulf Restoration Council through the RESTORE Act, bringing five states and six Federal agencies together to restore Gulf Coast ecosystems and communities.
January 2, 2013
Made the Tax System Fairer
The Obama Administration made permanent tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans as part of the bipartisan fiscal cliff agreement in January 2013, while allowing costly tax cuts to expire for those with the highest incomes — which will reduce deficits by more than $800 billion over the next ten years.
February 3, 2013
Made Buildings More Efficient
President Obama established the Better Buildings Challenge to enlist cities, states, utilities, manufacturers, school districts, and businesses to improve energy efficiency, targeting heavy users such as data centers and outdoor lighting systems. He worked with companies, mayors, university presidents, and labor leaders to drive $4 billion of investment in energy-efficiency upgrades for public and private buildings.
February 12, 2013
Improved America’s Cybersecurity
On February 12, 2013, President Obama signed Executive Order 13636, “Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity.” The Executive Order was designed to increase the level of core capabilities for our critical infrastructure to manage cyber risk. It did this by focusing on three key areas: (1) information sharing, (2) privacy, and (3) the adoption of cybersecurity practices.
The EO tasked the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) to work with the private sector to identify existing voluntary consensus standards and industry best practices and build them into a Cybersecurity Framework. The Administration recognized that there were private-sector cyber leaders who were already implementing strong cybersecurity controls, policies, procedures and innovations and asked these companies to help us shape best practices across critical infrastructure.
Modernized Medical Records
Until the President made investments in health information technology by signing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, our health care system ran largely on paper. Now, more than 75 percent of doctors now use electronic health records thanks to Administration policies.
June 25, 2013
Removed Carbon Pollution from the Air
President Obama took a series of common-sense steps to curb carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases through initiatives that drove energy efficiency, promoted clean energy, and put in place the first-ever carbon pollution standards for power plants.
In 2012, U.S. carbon pollution from the energy sector fell to the lowest level in two decades even as the economy continued to grow. To build on this progress, the Obama Administration put in place tough new rules to cut carbon pollution — just like we have for other toxins like mercury and arsenic.
The plan also set a goal to reduce carbon pollution by at least three billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030 — more than half of the annual carbon pollution from the U.S. energy sector — through efficiency standards set over the course of the Administration for appliances and federal buildings.
Helped Insure Millions of Young Adults
2.3 million additional young adults (aged 19-25) gained health insurance coverage between the enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and the start of open enrollment in October 2013 due to the ACA provision allowing young adults to remain on a parent’s plan until age 26.
Reformed Wall Street
The Obama Administration established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to hold financial institutions accountable and protect consumers from the types of abuses that preceded the crisis. Since its creation, this new independent watchdog has established safer national mortgage standards to better determine a borrower’s ability to repay over the long term, launched new transparency requirements that clearly spell out interest rates and payments, and subjected credit reporting agencies, debt collection agencies, and payday lenders to federal supervision for the first time.
The Administration also adopted the Volcker Rule to prohibit banks from risky proprietary trading and from sponsoring investment funds that are unrelated to core banking activities.
Led a Global Effort Against Nuclear Proliferation
The Obama Administration secured a landmark multilateral deal to roll back the Iranian nuclear program and verify that Iran cannot obtain a nuclear weapon. Nuclear physicists, military officials, non-proliferation experts, and more than 100 countries across the globe all voiced their support for the Iran nuclear deal because it was the best solution available to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon without taking military action.
The Administration also led global efforts to secure nuclear materials to prevent them from falling into the hands of terrorists through four Nuclear Security Summits.
August 11, 2014
A Startup in the White House: The United States Digital Service
Formally launched by the Administration on August 11, 2014, the U.S. Digital Service is a small team of our country’s brightest digital talent that will work with government agencies to find more effective ways to use technology to improve the service, information, and benefits they provide.
“…what we realized was that we could potentially build a SWAT team, a world-class technology office inside of the government that was helping agencies. We’ve dubbed that the U.S. Digital Service…they are making an enormous difference…”
Helped Unemployed Americans Get Back to Work
The Obama Administration worked with over 300 businesses, including 80 from the Fortune 500, to adopt recruiting and hiring practices to expand pathways to jobs for Americans who have been unemployed for 6 months or longer, and released grants that have trained nearly 5,000 long-term unemployed people for jobs in the past two years.
As more jobs are created, it was critical that Americans with skills, experience, and a desire to work would have every opportunity to get back to work to maximize the full potential of our talent pool. That’s why the White House partnered with employers to ensure that the long-term unemployed would have a fair shot at the same opportunities as other job-seekers. From the time businesses responded to the President’s call to action in January 2014 through November 2016, the long term unemployment rate was cut in half, accounting for roughly two-thirds of the total drop in unemployment.
October 22, 2014
Fostered Climate Literacy
President Obama believed climate education and literacy are particularly important for building a 21st-century workforce, where tomorrow’s community leaders, city planners, and entrepreneurs have the information, knowledge, and training to make sound decisions and grow businesses in the context of a changing climate.
He launched the Climate Education and Literacy Initiative to ensure that all students and citizens have the knowledge and training they need to address the climate change challenge. The Initiative ensured that citizens of all ages have a solid grounding in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills that serve as a basis for discovery, invention, and innovation.
December 17, 2014
Normalized Relations with Cuba
On December 17, 2014, President Obama announced that he was rejecting the Cold War-era policy era of the past. He built a historic opening to Cuba, ending a failed policy of over 50 years by re-establishing diplomatic relations and facilitating greater travel, commerce, and people-to-people ties.
Unleashing the Power of Data to Increase Community Trust in Policing
Recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and around the country have grabbed the attention of the nation and the world, and have highlighted the importance of strong, collaborative relationships between local police and the communities that they protect.
On December 1, 2014, the Administration announced new steps they took to strengthen the relationships between law enforcement agencies and the communities they are obligated to protect and serve, including:
- Advancing the use of body worn cameras and promoting proven community policing initiatives
- Creating a new task force to promote expansion of the community-oriented policing model, which encourages strong relationships between law enforcement and the communities that they serve as a proven method of fighting crime
- Reforming how the federal government equips state and local law enforcement – particularly with military-style equipment
January 9, 2015
Launched a New Manufacturing Network
The Obama Administration launched Manufacturing USA, which invests in U.S. leadership in emerging manufacturing technologies critical to our future competitiveness. Each manufacturing hub is designed to build U.S. leadership and regional excellence in critical emerging manufacturing technologies by bridging the gap between early research and product development; bringing together companies, universities, and other academic and training institutions, and federal agencies to co-invest in key technology areas that can encourage investment and production in the United States; and serving as a ‘teaching factory’ for workers, small businesses, and entrepreneurs looking to develop new skills or prototype new products and processes.
January 20, 2015
Launched the Precision Medicine Initiative: Data-Driven Treatments as Unique as Your Own Body
In his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama announced that he’s launching the Precision Medicine Initiative — a bold new research effort to revolutionize how we improve health and treat disease.
Until now, most medical treatments have been designed for the “average patient.” As a result of this “one-size-fits-all” approach, treatments can be very successful for some patients but not for others. Precision Medicine, on the other hand, is an innovative approach that takes into account individual differences in people’s genes, environments, and lifestyles. It gives medical professionals the resources they need to target the specific treatments of the illnesses we encounter, further develops our scientific and medical research, and keeps our families healthier.
January 21, 2015
Worked to Protect the Alaskan Arctic
Over the past 60 years, climate change has caused the Alaskan Arctic to warm twice as rapidly as the rest of the United States, and will continue to transform the Arctic as its consequences grow more severe. Higher atmospheric temperatures have led to a steady and dramatic reduction in Arctic sea ice, widespread glacier retreat, increasing coastal erosion, more acidic oceans, earlier spring snowmelt, thawing permafrost, drier landscapes, and more extensive insect outbreaks and wildfires, thus changing the accessibility and natural features of this remote region.
President Obama established the Arctic Executive Steering Committee to coordinate national efforts in the Arctic, and to strengthen cooperation among Federal agencies, State, local, tribal, academic, private and other groups to mitigate the impacts of climate change in the Arctic.
Reduced the Medicaid Coverage Gap
The Obama Administration expanded Medicaid to all previously ineligible adults with incomes under 133 percent of the federal poverty level with unprecedented federal support (the Supreme Court directed that this expansion be at the discretion of states).
The U.S. has seen the sharpest reduction in the uninsured rate since the decade following the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, and the nation’s uninsured rate is now at its lowest level ever.
2009 – 2017
Helped Small Businesses Get Back on Track
President Obama used proceeds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to stabilize banks that lend to small businesses, and his Administration established two new small business credit programs—the State Small Business Credit Initiative and the Small Business Lending Fund.
Additionally, his Administration focused on strengthening small businesses by signing into law 18 tax cuts for small businesses, ranging from 100% expensing to the small business health tax credit, to the temporary tax exclusion of capital gains from key small business investments.
June 25, 2015
The Supreme Court Upheld the Affordable Care Act
On June 25, 2015, the Supreme Court issued a 6-3 decision on King v. Burwell, upholding a key part of the Affordable Care Act. Millions of Americans who got covered in health insurance marketplaces would be able to stay covered, no matter where they lived.
2009 – 2017
Bolstered Preventive Care
The Affordable Care Act created new incentives to promote workplace wellness programs and encourages employers to take more opportunities to support healthier workplaces. Effective for plan years after January 1, 2014, final rules allowed the maximum reward to employers using a health-contingent wellness program to increase from 20 percent to 30 percent of the cost of health coverage, and the maximum reward for programs designed to prevent or reduce tobacco use would be as much as 50 percent.
The Obama Administration eliminated out-of-pocket costs for recommended preventive services, including depression screenings for adults and adolescents, through the Affordable Care Act, and required the posting of calorie information on menus of chain restaurants with 20 or more locations and vending machines.
June 2015 – August 2015
Invested in Clean Energy
In June 2015, the Obama Administration launched the Clean Energy Investment Initiative to expand private-sector investment in promising technologies aimed at reducing carbon pollution, including inspiring more than $4 billion in private-sector commitments and executive actions to scale up investment in clean-energy innovation.
The Administration also dedicated new federal resources for economic diversification, job creation, training, and other employment services for workers and communities impacted by layoffs at coal mines and coal-fired power plants.
Finally, President Obama committed to combating climate change to protect future generations while supporting a strong rural economy, as climate change was already affecting rural communities across the country and putting homes, businesses, and vital infrastructure at risk. In response, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a new investment in nearly 550 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects across the country totaling nearly $7 million in funding through its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
Invested in Climate Resilience
The Obama Administration developed the Climate Resilience Toolkit, a website to provide centralized, authoritative, easy-to-use information to help communities prepare for the impacts of climate change. The President also supported expanded use of green infrastructure techniques to improve natural management of stormwater and boost community resilience to flooding and other impacts of climate change.
To enhance commitments to building resilience in vulnerable communities disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change — many of which are already facing economic or health-related challenges — the Administration and its partners announced the first-ever Resilience AmeriCorps. The two-year pilot program recruited, trained, and embedded AmeriCorps VISTA members in ten communities across the country to increase civic engagement and community resilience in low-income areas, and help those communities develop plans for becoming more resilient to any number of shocks and stresses, including better preparations for extreme weather events.
August 24, 2015
Reduced the Government’s Emissions
President Obama was committed to addressing the climate change threat — both by taking action here at home and showing leadership on the world stage.
As part of his commitment to lead by example to curb the emissions that are driving climate change, President Obama issued an Executive Order to cut the Federal Government’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 40 percent over the next decade from 2008 levels — saving taxpayers up to $18 billion in avoided energy costs — and increased the share of electricity the Federal Government consumes from renewable sources to 30 percent. Complementing this effort, several major Federal suppliers announced commitments to cut their own GHG emissions.
Together, the combined results of the Federal Government actions and new supplier commitments will reduce GHG emissions by 26 million metric tons by 2025 from 2008 levels, the equivalent of taking nearly 5.5 million cars off the road for a year.
Meeting People Where They Are: on SnapChat, Instagram and more
President Obama is the first “social media president”: the first to have @POTUS on Twitter, the first to go live on Facebook from the Oval Office, the first to answer questions from citizens on YouTube, the first to use a filter on Snapchat. Over the past eight years, the President, Vice President, First Lady, and the White House have used social media and technology to engage with people around the country and the world on the most important issues of our time (while having some fun along the way).
2009 – 2015
Preserved Open Spaces and Endangered Species
Early in his tenure, President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, the most extensive expansion of land and water conservation in more than a generation, which designated more than 2 million acres of Federal wilderness and protected thousands of miles of trails and more than one thousand miles of rivers.
Committed to giving every kid the chance to explore America’s great outdoors and unique history, President Obama also launched an “Every Kid in a Park” initiative that provided all fourth-grade students and their families free admission to all Federal lands and waters for a full year.
October 5, 2015
Negotiated the Trans-Pacific Partnership
The Obama Administration negotiated and concluded the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-country agreement representing nearly 40 percent of global economic output, to increase American trade with the fastest growing region in the world, based on an open, transparent, and level playing field.
December 12, 2015
Led the Paris Agreement
The Obama Administration led a global effort to achieve the Paris Agreement among 196 countries to take real action on climate change that calls for strong transparency, ensuring countries adhere to ambitious emissions reduction goals, and setting the world on a course to cut carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases.
2015 – 2017
Responded to Ebola
The Obama Administration developed a comprehensive, intergovernmental strategy to combat outbreaks of the flu (H1N1), Ebola, and other infectious diseases.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa grew into the deadliest one the world has ever seen — and the President committed to treating and tackling Ebola as both a national security priority, and an example of American leadership.
The U.S. built, coordinated, and led a worldwide response to the Ebola outbreak while strengthening our preparedness here at home. And thanks to the hard work of our military members, civilian responders, and health care workers, we dramatically bent the curve of the epidemic. Cases went down 80 percent from peak levels.
2013 – 2017
Removed Discrimination from Health Care
The Affordable Care Act prohibited coverage denials and reduced benefits due to pre-existing conditions. Today, as many as 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied health coverage.
The ACA also prohibited charging more for women to receive coverage. Since September of 2013, the uninsured rate for women has dropped nearly 50 percent, meaning that about 9.5 million adult women have gained coverage.
The Affordable Care Act also contained many important benefits for American Indians and Alaska Natives. First and foremost, it includes the permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, ensuring that the IHS is here to stay. It also improved benefits and protections for American Indians and Alaska Natives who have insurance, whether they receive care inside or outside the IHS. And it gives them more choices for health coverage, including Medicaid and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
2013 – 2017
Formed a Coalition to Degrade and Destroy ISIL
The terrorist group known as ISIL was formerly al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq. Though it calls itself the “Islamic State,” it is neither Islamic nor a state. It is a terrorist organization that has perverted a religion into a dangerous ideology.
On September 10, 2014, President Obama announced the formation of a broad international coalition to defeat ISIL. Since then, the United States has led 66 international partners in a global coalition to counter ISIL with a focus on liberating ISIL-controlled territory in Iraq and Syria. The mission was aimed at striking ISIL at its core, degrading its networks, and constraining its prospects for expansion.
October 3, 2016
SXSL: South by South Lawn
In March 2016, President Obama traveled to South by Southwest® for a conversation on civic engagement. In Austin, he called on creative thinkers and entrepreneurs from across the country to help tackle our toughest challenges. On October 3, 2016, we celebrated that spirit of innovation at South by South Lawn, a White House festival of ideas, art, and action.
At SXSL, we celebrated the inspiring work that so many Americans have already accomplished—called on everyone to roll up their sleeves and discover their own way to make a positive difference in our country.
October 12, 2016
Tech Leadership in Popular Culture: Keynoting SXSW & Guest-editing Wired
President Obama traveled to South by Southwest in March 2016 — the first sitting President to do so. In Austin, he made the case for people “from all walks of life, working inside or outside of government, to help us make this democracy even stronger.”
When it comes to tech, the President has had many firsts: the first “Social Media President;” the first President to appoint a Chief Technology Officer; the first President whose White House had built an online civic engagement platform, We The People; the first President with his own tech startups in the United States Digital Service (USDS), 18F, and the Presidential Innovation Fellows. But this Administration’s use of technology is not about novelty. Instead it is rooted in the President’s broader vision about citizenship and service.
In the November 2016 issue of WIRED, guest-editor President Obama explored the theme of “Frontiers” that will shape the coming decades.
2014 – 2017
Made Homes More Efficient
President Obama was committed to taking responsible steps to slow the effects of climate change so we leave behind a cleaner, more stable environment for future generations.
In September 2014, the Administration announced new private sector commitments and executive actions to reduce emissions of hydroflourocarbons (HFCs), powerful greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. The commitments made in 2014 would reduce cumulative global consumption of these greenhouse gases by the equivalent of 700 million metric tons of carbon dioxide through 2025, equivalent to 1.5% of the world’s 2010 greenhouse gas emissions and the same as taking nearly 15 million cars off the road for 10 years. New energy efficiency standards for appliances and equipment also cut consumers’ electricity bills by hundreds of billions of dollars,
Additionally, President Obama led an international coalition of countries to secure an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFCs, potent greenhouse gases. The amendment, which had strong support from U.S. industry, would avoid more than 80 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2050 — equivalent to more than a decade of emissions from the entire U.S. economy — and could avoid up to 0.5°C of warming by the end of the century.
December 20, 2016
Worked with Canada to Protect the Arctic
On December 20, 2016, in partnership with our neighbors and allies in Canada, the Obama Administration took historic steps to build a strong Arctic economy, preserve a healthy Arctic ecosystem and protect the United States’ fragile Arctic waters, including designating the bulk of our Arctic water and certain areas in the Atlantic Ocean as indefinitely off limits to future oil and gas leasing.
The White House Student Film Festival
Nearly 50 years ago, the American Film Institute (AFI) was born in the White House Rose Garden. Standing just outside the Oval Office, President Lyndon Johnson spoke to the need to bring together “leading artists of the film industry, outstanding educators, and young men and women who wish to pursue the 20th century art form as their life’s work.”
Since that day, new tools and platforms have allowed remarkable voices of a new generation to speak with this art form, and the AFI partnered with the White House in encouraging the young people of America to tell their inspiring tales.
“In this country, if we give all of our kids the best opportunities and technology and resources, there’s no telling what they’ll create — now and the years ahead.”
2009 – 2017
Reduced Unemployment Among Veterans
In August 2011, President Obama called on Congress to enact tax credits that will help get veterans back to work. The Returning Heroes Tax Credit provides businesses that hire unemployed veterans with a maximum credit of $5,600 per veteran, and the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit offers businesses that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities with a maximum credit of $9,600 per veteran.
These tax credits were included in the American Jobs Act and were signed into law by President Obama on November 21, 2011.
Celebrations at the Obama White House
State Dinners Throughout the Years
In the nineteenth century, the term “State Dinner” was used to denote any affair that honored the President’s Cabinet, Congress, or other dignitaries. However, President Ulysses S. Grant changed the meaning of the term when he welcomed King David Kalakua of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1874. Now, State Dinners are grand affairs hosted by the President to welcome a visiting head of state.
A State Dinner requires at minimum, six months of preparation. From the guest list and invitations, to the menus and seating arrangements, all require the careful attention of the First Lady, State Department, and White House Social Secretary.
Musical and Arts Performances at the White House
Musical performances at the White House ranged in form, genre, and style. Artists such as Beyoncé, Mick Jagger, Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, and the Mount Ennon Baptist Church Children’s Chorus performed during President Obama’s time in office.
January 10, 2017
President Obama Delivered His Farewell Address
January 12, 2017