Our Story


Browse the story of President Obama’s administration and the Obama family’s time in the White House by chapter, or view a chronological timeline of events below.


On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, completing the remarkable journey that carried him from the South Side of Chicago to the White House. Scroll down to explore the events that led to and defined the Obama family’s time in the White House.

The Record

The Timeline

“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.

Left photo: A young Michelle Obama (née Robinson) with her brother Craig; Right photo: Barack and Michelle Obama with their daughters, Sasha and Malia.

Expand Close


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.

Senator Obama on 71st St. in South Shore, 1995 photo (C) Marc PoKemper
The Roseland neighborhood of Chicago, via Google Maps.

Expand Close

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.”

President Barack Obama whispers into First Lady Michelle Obama’s ear during the White House Cinco de Mayo celebration May 4, 2009. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close

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.

Barack Obama teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago.

Expand Close

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.

Barack and Michelle Obama on their wedding day

Barack and Michelle Obama on their wedding day.

Expand Close

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.

Barack Obama in 1992 back in Chicago, where he ran a voter registration drive.

Expand Close

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.

Senator Obama in New Hampshire, April 2007. (Tim Llewellyn/Obama for America)


Expand Close

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.”

Then Illinois State Senator Barack Obama, 2004
Expand Close

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.

President Candidacy Announcement, Springfield, IL, February 10, 2007. (Obama for America)

Left photo: Barack and Michelle Obama, Pueblo, CO, November 1, 2008 (Obama for America).

Middle photo: Austin Rally, Austin, TX, February 23, 2007 (Mike Nicholson/Obama for America)

Right photo: Democratic Presidential Nominee, Senator Barack Obama speaks in front of the Ohio State Capitol on Sunday, November, 2, 2008. (David Katz/Obama for America)

A Dollar for Every Year
Roosevelt Jackson, the oldest living member of the Negro Leagues at 98 years old, tells his granddaughter Loretta Jackson Brown about growing up in Georgia and waiting his whole life to help elect a black president.

“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.”

President-Elect Barack Obama, November 2008
Expand Close

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.

Election Night 2008 in Grant Park
President-Elect Barack Obama's victory speech in Grant Park, Chicago on November 4, 2008.

Democratic Presidential Nominee, Barack Obama and his family on election night in Chicago, IL on Wednesday, November 5, 2008. (David Katz/Obama for America)

“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.”

Mayor Richard Daley, November 2008
Expand Close


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.

Alex, a six-year-old boy from New York, asks the President to help him provide a home for a refugee in need. September, 2016

Expand Close


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.

President Barack Obama and his daughters, Malia, left, and Sasha, watch on television as First Lady Michelle Obama begins her speech at the Democratic National Convention, in the Treaty Room of the White House, Tuesday night, Sept. 4, 2012. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

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.


Expand Close


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.”
—President Obama

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.

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters Sasha and Malia watch the World Cup soccer game between the U.S. and Japan, from the Treaty Room office in the residence of the White House, Sunday, July 17, 2011. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close

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.

President Barack Obama attends a breakout session, “Creating Jobs Through the Rebuilding of America’s Infrastructure,” during the White House Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Dec. 3, 2009. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close

March 2009

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.

Expand Close


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.

First Lady Michelle Obama harvests vegetables with students in the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn, May 28, 2013. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

“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.”

Michelle Obama, November 2016
Expand Close


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.

President Obama and Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp share a fist bump as they record a GIF in the Old Family Dining Room, prior to a Tumblr Q&A at the White House, June 10, 2014. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

“Government should be collaborative. Collaboration actively engages Americans in the work of their Government.”

President Barack Obama, January 2009
Expand Close

Explore Data.gov

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.”

President Barack Obama, Address to Joint Session of Congress, February, 24, 2009
Expand Close

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.

Expand Close

2009 – 2017

Invested in Education

The Obama Administration catalyzed significant state education reforms to adopt higher academic standards to prepare students for college and careers, which 49 states and the District of Columbia have done. Additionally, the Administration invested in great teachers and leaders, and turned around low-performing schools through $4 billion in Race to the Top competition. Following these reforms, the high school graduation rate reached its highest level ever recorded, dropout rates fell sharply for low-income and minority students, and since 2008, college enrollment for African-Americans and Hispanics has increased by more than one million students.

(Left) President Barack Obama visits a pre-kindergarten classroom at the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center in Decatur, Ga., Feb. 14, 2013.

(Right) President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan visit a classroom at the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) in Brooklyn, N.Y., Oct. 25, 2013.

(Photos courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close

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.

(Left) A member of the audience holds a “Thank You” sign during President Barack Obama’s speech on medicare fraud and health care insurance reform, at St. Charles High School in St. Charles, Mo., March 10, 2010. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library) (Right) President Barack Obama’s signature on the health insurance reform bill at the White House, March 23, 2010.  (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)


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.

Expand Close

August 3, 2010

Fought for a Fairer Criminal Justice System

In August 2010, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduces the disparity in the amounts of powder cocaine and crack cocaine required for the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences and eliminates the mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of crack cocaine. It also increases monetary penalties for major drug traffickers.

Additionally, in July 2015, President Obama visited the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution outside of Oklahoma City, marking the first visit by a sitting President to a federal prison.

“If we are serious about solving this problem, then we’re going to not only have to help the police, we’re going to have to think about what can we do — the rest of us — to make sure that we’re providing early education to these kids; to make sure that we’re reforming our criminal justice system so it’s not just a pipeline from schools to prisons; so that we’re not rendering men in these communities unemployable because of a felony record for a nonviolent drug offense; that we’re making investments so that they can get the training they need to find jobs. … And there’s a bunch of my agenda that would make a difference right now in that.”

President Obama, Tuesday, April 28, 2015
A Second Chance at Life
Alton Mills received a life sentence for a nonviolent crime at age 25. His daughter Danielle Howell talks to him about being a dad in prison, and what his presidential commutation has meant to him.
Expand Close

December 13, 2010

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act updated school meal nutrition standards for the first time in 15 years and increased school meal funding for the first time in 30 years. The law boosted the quality and nutrition of meals for over 50 million children through the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. Its regulations substantially increased offerings of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and reduced the amount of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium.

Mrs. Obama has lunch with students at Parklawn Elementary School in Alexandria, Va., Jan. 25, 2012. Mrs. Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the school to sample a healthy meal that meets the United States Department of Agriculture’s new and improved nutrition standards for school lunches. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

“We can all agree that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, all children should have the basic nutrition they need to learn and grow and to pursue their dreams, because in the end, nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children. Nothing. And our hopes for their future should drive every single decision that we make.”

Michelle Obama, December 13, 2010
Expand Close


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.

The White House Champions of Change hail from all 50 states and D.C., and individually and collectively tell the story of the potential of every citizen across our country to be a force for good. Since 2011, President Obama has honored more than 1,300 Champions at 134 events. Here are just a few citizens who are making a difference.

Expand Close


Improved Veterans’ Service

Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden launched Joining Forces in 2011 and have seen incredible impacts since that time.

Employment: Through the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, more than 82,000 military spouses have been hired by nearly 300 private- and public-sector partners since the program launched, and more than 850,000 veterans and military spouses have been hired through Joining Forces-allied companies. 50 states have enacted legislation removing credentialing impediments for separating service members and 49 states have enacted legislation assisting in license portability for military spouses.

Education: More than 100 colleges and universities have signed on to “Educate the Educators”, the Joining Forces commitment that will help prepare educators to lead classrooms and develop school cultures that are more responsive to the social, emotional, and academic needs of children in military families. All 50 states have signed on to the Military Child Education Compact to support military students and families.

Wellness: Mrs. Obama launched the Campaign to Change Direction, a mental health public awareness campaign, garnering commitments to teach the “5 Signs” to more than 145 million people. Through a network of medical and mental health professional organizations, this campaign has created opportunities to prepare the nation’s current and future healthcare work force to meet the unique health needs of service members, veterans, and their families.

Expand Close

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.

President Barack Obama looks out over the water after arriving aboard Marine One at the Brenton Point landing zone in Newport, R.I., Aug. 29, 2014. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close

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.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011. Seated, from left, are: Brigadier General Marshall B. “Brad” Webb, Assistant Commanding General, Joint Special Operations Command; Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Please note: a classified document seen in this photograph has been obscured. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close

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.

“During photo lines, there’s this routine called ‘push and pull.’ One social aide helps push the next guest towards the President and another helps pull them out of the room. During a photo line to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, Alice Wong, Disability Visibility Project Founder, participated via robot. So after her photograph had been taken, social aides gestured to ‘pull’ her out of the room as the next guest entered.” July 20, 2015 (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close


Bo and Sunny: First Dogs

Bo and Sunny

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.

View the full gallery

Expand Close

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 our 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.”

President Barack Obama, November 2012
Expand Close

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.


President Barack Obama meets the Weithman family: Joe, Rhonda, and their children, Rachel, 9, and Josh, 11, in their home in Columbus, Ohio, Aug. 18, 2010. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close

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.

President Barack Obama meets with Presidential Innovation Fellows in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Jan. 25, 2013. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library).

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…”

President Barack Obama, January 2013
Expand Close

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.

(Left) “After the BP oil spill, the President made several trips to the Gulf Coast. Here he walks along the beach with Florida Gov. Charlie Crist near the Pensacola Gulf Pier in Pensacola. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library) (Right) U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen, left, who is serving as the National Incident Commander, and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, right, brief President Barack Obama about the situation along the Gulf Coast following the BP oil spill, at the Coast Guard Venice Center, in Venice, La., Sunday, May 2, 2010. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close

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.

Dec. 28, 2012
“After returning early from his Christmas vacation, the President with the Vice President meets in the Oval Office with the leadership of Congress to discuss the fiscal cliff.” (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close

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.

President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton listen as Gary Le Francois, Senior Vice President and Director of Engineering, leads them on a tour of the Transwestern Building in Washington, D.C., Dec. 2, 2011. The 240,000 square foot office building is undergoing renovations to the façade and internal systems that are expected to raise their ENERGY STAR rating to 95 (out of 100). (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close

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.

President Barack Obama participates in a Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection with business leaders at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., Feb. 13, 2015. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close

May 2013

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.

Expand Close

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.

Bad news: Carbon pollution in our atmosphere is higher than at any point in human history.

The good news? America is leading global efforts to combat climate change. More than 180 countries representing nearly 95% of global emissions have recently announced their own climate targets to reduce carbon emissions.

Expand Close


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.

Love in the Time of Obamacare
Regina Jimenez tells her husband Edgardo about her struggle with life-threatening illnesses since age 12. She worked 60-hour weeks to pay her medical bills until the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010.
Expand Close


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.

(Left) President Barack Obama meets with Economic Recovery Advisory Board Chair Paul Volcker in the Oval Office, Jan. 21, 2010.

(Right) President Barack Obama meets with heads of financial regulatory agencies in the Roosevelt Room of the White House to receive an update on implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, July 18, 2011.

(Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)​

Expand Close

February 27, 2014

Launched “My Brother’s Keeper”

On February 27, 2014, the President launched “My Brother’s Keeper” (MBK) and issued a powerful call to action to close opportunity gaps still faced by too many young people, and often by boys and young men of color in particular. The President’s announcement encouraged candid dialogues around the country and a greater sense of responsibility among community leaders, and young people themselves to put all youth in a position to thrive, regardless of their race, gender, or socioeconomic status.

More than $500 million in non-federal grants and in-kind resources and $1 billion in independently committed financing have aligned with objectives of the MBK initiative.

“That’s what ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ is all about. Helping more of our young people stay on track. Providing the support they need to think more broadly about their future. Building on what works – when it works, in those critical life-changing moments.”

President Barack Obama, February 27, 2014

President Barack Obama meets with My Brother’s Keeper mentees during lunch in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Feb. 27, 2015. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close


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.

(Left) President Barack Obama delivers his first major speech stating a commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons in front of thousands in Prague, Czech Republic, April 5, 2009.

(Right) President Barack Obama talks with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran during a phone call in the Oval Office, Sept. 27, 2013.

(Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close

2009 – 2017

Fought for Fair Pay for All Genders

President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, empowering workers to recover wages lost to discrimination by extending the time period for parties to bring pay discrimination claims, and took other steps helping to shrink the gender pay gap by more than 10 percent.

Additionally, he signed an April 2014 Executive Order that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against employees who choose to discuss their compensation, further strengthening equal pay laws.

Lilly Ledbetter Remembers
Lilly Ledbetter filed a wage discrimination suit against the Goodyear Tire Company upon discovering she was making 40% less than male peers. Her unsuccessful suit led to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.

President Barack Obama signs executive actions to strengthen enforcement of equal pay laws for women, at an event marking Equal Pay Day in the East Room of the White House, April 8, 2014. The President signs the Presidential Memorandum — Advancing Pay Equality Through Compensation Data Collection, and an Executive Order regarding Non-Retaliation for Disclosure of Compensation Information. Lilly Ledbetter stands to the left of the signing table. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close

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.

President Barack Obama shares a laugh with participants prior to an Affordable Care Act implementation meeting with Vice President Joe Biden in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Sept. 22, 2014. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library).

“…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…”

President Barack Obama, March 2016
Expand Close


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.

Expand Close

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.

“This photograph was from the annual White House Science Fair. It shows the President posing with Girl Scout Troop 2612 from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I think the eight-year-old girls–Avery Dodson, Natalie Hurley, Miriam Schaffer, Claire Winton and Lucy Claire Sharp–are called ‘Brownies’. They had just shown the President their exhibit: a Lego flood proof bridge project. The fair celebrated the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions from across the country.” (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

From High School to IBM
Radcliffe Saddler tells his brother Theodore about attending P-Tech High School in Brooklyn. Radcliffe was selected to introduce President Obama when he came to visit the school in October 2013.
Expand Close

November 25, 2014

Reformed Our Immigration System

On November 21, 2014, the President established the White House Task Force on New Americans—a government-wide effort tasked with better integrating immigrants and refugees into American communities.

In June of 2012 the President implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy for young undocumented people who came to the U.S. as children in an effort to better focus enforcement resources. Since its establishment, the Department of Homeland Security has approved close to 740,000 DACA requests on a case-by-case basis. More than 526,000 individuals have also successfully renewed DACA.

Dreaming of Deferred Action
Jaime Rangel tells his youth pastor Zab Mendez about discovering his undocumented status in high school and what it meant for him to get his Deferred Action for Children Arrivals (DACA) certification.
Expand Close

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.

Going Home to Cuba
Maday Martinez talks with her friend Marvin Centeno about fleeing Cuba as a baby, and returning 22 years later once diplomatic relations were restored under President Obama.
Expand Close


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

“The President talks with students and law enforcement officials about community relations and programs that build trust between youth and the police in Camden, N.J. Earlier that day, we had toured police headquarters with the Chief of Police J. Scott Thomson. Several months later I was giving some friends a tour of the West Wing when I ran into Chief Thomson, who was on the same tour with another White House employee, and I told him how much the visit to Camden had meant to the President.” (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library).

Expand Close

December 19, 2014

Expanded Opportunities for Those with Disabilities

On December 19, 2014, President Obama signed into law the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, which allows individuals with disabilities receiving benefits to earn assets without risk of losing needed health benefits and income assistance

On February 10, 2015, Vice President Biden hosted an event at the White House with Members of Congress to highlight the benefits and achievements of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. The Act creates a new savings account for families with people with disabilities.


Expand Close

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.

President Barack Obama tours MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network) at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio, March 18, 2015. Tom Lix, the CEO and founder of Cleveland Whiskey gives an overview of the company during a workshop with employees Ethan Snyder, left, and Jim Waltz. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close

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.

First Lady Michelle Obama joins children for a group photo during a visit to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2014. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close

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.

(Left) “The President tours Kenai Fjords National Park by boat. The trip to Alaska may have been the best domestic trip of his Presidency. Being on a boat on a picturesque day certainly helped.” (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library) (Right) “‘He was just excited to see you,’ one of the salmon fisherwoman exclaimed after a salmon spawned on the President’s feet at Kanakanak Beach in Bristol Bay, Alaska.” (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close

March 7, 2015

Race and the Presidency, from Ferguson to Selma

On March 7, 2015, the First Family traveled to Selma, Alabama to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the marches from Selma to Montgomery.

“We honor those who walked so we could run. We must run so our children soar. And we will not grow weary.”

President Barack Obama, March 7, 2015

President Barack Obama and Mrs. Obama join hands with Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. as they lead the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches, in Selma, Ala., March 7, 2015. Malia and Sasha Obama join hands with their grandmother, Marian Robinson. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close


Invested in Neighborhoods and Communities

On April 30, 2010, the U.S. Department of Education launched the Promise Neighborhood program and designated 22 Promise Zones across the country to revitalize communities by attracting private investment, creating jobs, improving access to affordable housing, expanding educational opportunities, and partnering with local leaders to navigate federal programs.

In July 2011, the Obama Administration launched Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative (SC2), a partnership between the federal government and mayors of chronically distressed cities that have faced significant long-term challenges in developing and implementing their economic strategies. As part of the President’s priority to strengthen the middle class, create jobs, and build ladders of opportunity as communities regain their economic footing, SC2 named 14 locations to receive technical advice and expertise from federal inter-agency teams.

In 2015, the White House launched “Rural Impact,” a cross-agency effort led by the White House Rural Council to combat poverty and improve upward mobility in rural and tribal places by innovating program delivery in key programs, including designating ten rural communities for a demonstration that will provide targeted technical assistance to help communities adopt a two-generation approach to programs, policies, and systems to better meet the needs of low-income kids and parents.

Expand Close

June 2015

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.

Expand Close

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.

Expand Close

2009 – 2017

Ensured Equality for LGBT Americans

In December 2010, the President signed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 into law, allowing gay men and women to serve openly and with integrity in the U.S. military.

In February 2011, the Administration announced it would cease legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act’s provision defining marriage as only between a man and woman, leading to the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions holding the Act unconstitutional.

Throughout his presidency, President Obama advocated in favor of a Constitutional guarantee of marriage equality for same-sex couples—a position the Supreme Court vindicated in its historic decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015.

Love, Death, and Taxes
Edie Windsor talks to her lawyer Roberta Kaplan about how the 2009 death of Edie’s long-time partner, Thea Spyer, led to their landmark Supreme Court case which secured marriage equality nationwide.

“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it has guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall… That is our generation’s task — to make these words, these rights, these values of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness real for every American.”

President Barack Obama, Second Inaugural Address, January 21, 2013
Two Marines, in Love
Michael Rudulph and his partner Neil Rafferty talk about their service as gay Marines under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy, which President Obama later repealed in 2010.
Expand Close

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.

Expand Close

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.


Expand Close

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).

President Barack Obama tours the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center with Lew Hey, chairman and CEO of FPL Group, left, and Greg Bove, FPL construction manager, in Arcadia, Fla., Oct. 27, 2009. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close


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.

Expand Close

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.

Expand Close


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).

Expand Close

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.

President Barack Obama looks at the Grand Canyon in Arizona on Aug. 16, 2009. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close

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.

President Barack Obama attends the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) meeting at the ASEAN Summit at Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 20, 2012. Taking part in the meeting, clockwise from the President, are; Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah; Prime Minister Mohammed Najib Abdul Razak of Malaysia; Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand; Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore; Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam; and Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close

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.

President Barack Obama briefs European leaders, including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Union Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, and Danish Prime Minister Lars L. Rasmussen, following a multilateral meeting at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, Dec. 18, 2009. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close

January 4, 2016

Took Action on Gun Violence

Gun violence has taken a heartbreaking toll on too many communities across the country. Over the past decade in America, more than 100,000 people have been killed as a result of gun violence—and millions more have been the victim of assaults, robberies, and other crimes involving a gun. Many of these crimes were committed by people who never should have been able to purchase a gun in the first place.

President Obama and Vice President Biden were committed to using every tool at the Administration’s disposal to reduce gun violence.

The Obama Administration directed an overhaul of the background check system to make it more efficient and effective. The Administration clarified that it doesn’t matter where you conduct your business—from a store, at gun shows, or over the Internet: If you’re in the business of selling firearms, you must get a license and conduct background checks. The Administration also ensured States are providing records to the background check system, and work cooperatively with jurisdictions to improve reporting.

Additionally, the Administration issued a memo directing every U.S. Attorney’s Office to renew domestic violence outreach efforts, and called for significant new resources to increase access to mental health care.

Expand Close

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.

Expand Close

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.


Expand Close

2009 – 2017

Supported the FCC’s Net Neutrality Decision

President Obama supported the FCC’s “net neutrality” decision to adopt the strongest rules possible to ensure Internet Service Providers (ISPs) cannot become gatekeepers to the Internet’s content or create paid fast lanes for access to the best services.

Expand Close

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.

(Left) President Barack Obama convenes a meeting with Arab coalition leaders in the fight against the terrorist group ISIL in Iraq and Syria, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, N.Y., Sept. 23, 2014.

(Center) Attendees take notes during President Barack Obama’s briefing on the campaign against the terrorist group ISIL in Iraq and Syria, held at U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., Sept. 17, 2014.

(Right) President Barack Obama participates in a briefing on the campaign against the terrorist group ISIL in Iraq and Syria, held at U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., Sept. 17, 2014. The President is seated next to Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, Commander, U.S. Central Command.

(Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close

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.

Expand Close

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.

President Barack Obama fist bumps a middle-school student participating in an “Hour of Code” event to honor Computer Science Education Week in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Dec. 8, 2014. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

WIRED Magazine cover November 2016

In the November 2016 issue of WIRED, guest-editor President Obama explored the theme of “Frontiers” that will shape the coming decades.

Expand Close

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.

Expand Close

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.

Expand Close


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.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the White House Student Film Festival in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 28, 2014. The event highlights the Administration’s commitment to expanding high-speed Internet connectivity and educational technology in classrooms. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

“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.”

President Obama, March 2015
Expand Close

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.

President Barack Obama greets Ramone Davis, a veteran who served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and now works at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant where the President spoke in Wayne, Mich., Jan. 7, 2015. The President mentioned Ramone during his speech. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Expand Close


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.

Expand Close


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.

Expand Close


Celebrations at the Obama White House

Expand Close

January 10, 2017

President Obama Delivered His Farewell Address

Expand Close

January 12, 2017

Surprised Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Expand Close

Browse by Chapter