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The Road to Groundbreaking: Obama Foundation Announces $400M Chicago Fundraising Effort to Build the Obama Presidential Center

April 20, 2021 at 8:00 AM CDT

Dedicated “Hometown Fund” Designates $75M Toward Workforce Development and Youth Related Programming

CHICAGO -- Today the Obama Foundation announced a $400M Chicago Campaign to harness the energy of corporate, philanthropic, and individual leaders from across the city to help bring the Obama Presidential Center to the South Side and invest in the surrounding community. The Hometown Fund, a dedicated initiative that will generate significant investments aimed at strengthening economic opportunities for residents on the South and West sides of Chicago and supporting youth, will designate $75M over five years to fund efforts including:

Inclusive Economic Development

  • Workforce trainings on the South and West side to build a diverse pipeline of talent for construction projects across the city, and provide stable, well-paying careers for many who have been left out of the industry historically;

  • Partnership with Emerald South Economic Development Collaborative and its work to generate community wealth across the South Side;

Investments in Chicago’s Youth

  • Increased access to economic opportunity for high school students providing workforce readiness training and paid work experience at businesses throughout the city through the Obama Youth Jobs Corps in partnership with Urban Alliance;

  • Community programs to expand the impact in Chicago of two initiatives that President and Mrs. Obama launched during the White House and continue as part of the Obama Foundation: The My Brother’s Keeper Alliance to provide critical support to boys and young men of color and the Girls Opportunity Alliance to empower adolescent girls;

  • Civic engagement programs for students in Chicago that will empower more young people to take action to address the issues they care most about in their communities and lives.

“We are seeing significant interest from civic and corporate leaders in Chicago who want to be part of this movement to change the economic trajectory of the South Side of Chicago,” said Valerie Jarrett, President of the Obama Foundation. “We’re proud to be able to convene these leaders and channel investment in ways that will strengthen our community.”

The Obama Foundation is engaging civic and corporate leaders to build the Obama Presidential Center and invest in issues of importance on the South and West sides of Chicago in pursuit of a more inclusive city. Some of President Obama’s closest friends, advisors, and longtime supporters from Chicago are coming together to help bring the Obama Presidential Center to life, leading fundraising and engagement efforts in our hometown. Co-chairs of the Obama Foundation Chicago Committee include: Mellody Hobson, Jim Crown, Rick Waddell, and Valerie Jarrett. Committee Members include: Tarrah Cooper, Gloria Castillo, Helene Gayle, Walter Massey, and Tamar Newberger. The Committee aims to raise $400M from Chicago leaders in the next five years.

A number of companies and foundations with deep ties to Chicago have already signed on as founding corporate partners of the Chicago Campaign, including AT&T, Exelon Corporation, The Boeing Company, HCSC/Blue Cross Blue Shield, Illinois Tool Works, Microsoft Corporation, Nike, Alphawood Foundation, Chicago Community Trust, Joyce Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Robert R. McCormick Foundation and the Fifth Third Chicagoland Foundation.

Bringing the Obama Presidential Center to life is a community-wide effort that will include individuals, foundations, and corporations from across the City of Chicago all joining to deliver historic investments in the community.

The announcement of the Chicago Campaign comes on the heels of the Foundation announcing the Construction Workforce Initiative, a program designed to create a diverse pipeline of talent that can be funneled to construction jobs across the city, including the building of the Obama Presidential Center.

The Obama Presidential Center will break ground in Jackson Park in the fall of this year, with the City of Chicago starting site pre-construction preparatory work later this month. As the Obama Foundation kicks off the Road to Groundbreaking, people from across the City are invited to join a celebration of Chicago and everyone who is helping us make this dream a reality.


Contact: Courtney D. Williams, Obama Foundation, [email protected]