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2008-2011

The Obama Administration

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Barack, Sasha and Malia Obama wave to out-of-focus onlookers. They wear hats and scarves.

The 2008 Campaign: Yes We Can

January 1, 2008

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.

Candidate Obama with daughters

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

Barack and Michelle Obama hug onstage in November 2008.
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Barack Obama at a rally in Austin, TX
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Senator Barack Obama speaks in front of the Ohio State Capitol
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Barack and Michelle Obama, Pueblo, CO, November 1, 2008 (Obama for America).

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

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

Senator Barack Obama speaks in front of the Ohio State Capitol

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

An Historic Night in Grant Park

November 4, 2008

On November 4, 2008, President-elect Barack Obama gave a victory speech to remember at Grant Park before an estimated crowd of 240,000.

Barack Obama and his family
Barack Obama and his family
Barack Obama and his family on election night
“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

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.

A young boy with a light skin tone sits at a table drawing. The drawing reads ¨Dear President Obama, remember the boy who was picked up by the ambulance- in syria?¨

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

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

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.

President Barack Obama greets players during a Wounded Warrior basketball game

President Barack Obama greets players during a Wounded Warrior basketball game on the White House Basketball Court, July 26, 2011.(Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

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

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)

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 Obama meets with a roundtable of people with various skin tones.

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)

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.

President Obama stands on a yellow truck speaking to ralliers.
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President Barack Obama delivers remarks at General Motors Auto Plant in Hamtramck, Mich., July 30, 2010. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

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

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

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

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

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

Helped Kids Get Fit with “Let’s Move!”

February 9th, 2010

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.

Mrs.Obama plays tug-a-war with a man with a light skin tone in the oval office.
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Mrs. Obama participates in a tug of war with Jimmy Fallon in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House during a “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” taping for the second anniversary of the "Let’s Move!" initiative.

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.

President Barack Obama, wearing a light blue button-up shirt and a blue tie with white specks, holds a black magnifying glass and looking toward a young girl with a light skin tone. There is a young boy sitting on the left hand side of President Barack Obama with a deep skin tone and a blue shirt with gray sleeves holds a blue and clear magnifying glass looking toward toys that are sitting on the table in front of them. There are other young individuals of a variety of skin tones blurred out in the photo.
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President Obama wearing a light blue button-up shirt, a dark blue tie, and black pants stands with his arms folded and laughs in a room with other individuals of a variety of skin tones. There is a wooden table with a laptop, cardboard, straws, and other craft materials on top. In the background are a white-board, books, and other posters on top of a blue and yellow wall in what appears to be a school classroom.
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President Barack Obama visits a pre-kindergarten classroom at the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center in Decatur, Ga., Feb. 14, 2013. (Photos courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

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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)

Secured Affordable Health Care for All Americans

March 23, 2010

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.

A woman with a deep skin tone wearing a white sweater holding a blue sign that says "thank you". There is a crowd of people of a variety of skin tones blurred out surrounding her. The ceiling is beige with a diamond pattern.
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A paper marked "APPROVED" at the top with the text "MAR 2 3 2010" below it in slightly smaller letters. Farther below this text is President Barack Obama's signature signed largely.
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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)

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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.

Fought for a Fairer Criminal Justice System

August 3, 2010

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

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act

December 13, 2010

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.

First Lady Michelle Obama, wearing a tan, red, and black patterned sweater and blue pants, reaches over a lunch table and touches the head of a young boy with a deep skin tone. Also sitting at the table are three young individuals with light-medium skin tones. There are a variety of young individuals sitting in the background blurred out.

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

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.

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.

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.

President Obama wearing a brown jacket and khaki pants leans over and fistbumps another man with a light skin tone wearing a black jacket. There is a crowd full of people with a variety of skin tones. They are all sitting outside.
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President Barack Obama greets veterans before the Carrier Classic basketball game between the University of North Carolina Tar Heels and Michigan State Spartans on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson, docked at North Island Naval Station in San Diego, Calif., Nov. 11, 2011. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Protected the Health of America’s Waters

April 27, 2011

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 Obama looks out over the water

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)

Dismantled Al Qaeda’s Leadership

May 2, 2011

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 wearing a navy blue jacket and a white polo shirt sits in a room with other individuals of a light skin tone. There is a brown table in front of them with four laptops and papers on it.

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)

Investment in Robotics

June 24, 2011
A GIF of President Barack Obama kicking a gray ball back and forth with a Honda Asimo robot that is all white with a black shield over its "face". There are playing on a shiny white floor. There is a crowd watching them.

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.

One social aide helps push the next guest towards the President and another helps pull them out of the room.

"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)

Bo and Sunny: First Dogs

A video features two black dogs, one sitting ong grass while the other runs wagging its tounge.

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.

The Obama Administration by Year