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2023 Year in Photos

Stories

December 13, 2023
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As we reflect on the year, we couldn’t be more proud of the work our global network of leaders  are doing to tackle some of the most pressing issues of our time. They’re making a difference every single day, and working collaboratively to bring change home to their communities and strengthen our democratic institutions. 

Check out highlights of our work in 2023 — from hosting our second Democracy Forum, to welcoming the inaugural group of changemakers to our Leaders USA program, and continuing progress on the construction of the Obama Presidential Center on the South Side of Chicago. We couldn’t do this work without you! 

Take a look and revisit some of the moments your support made possible in 2023.

Supporting our Youth

President Obama smiles as he listens to a Black male with a deep skin tone rap from his phone. He is wearing glasses and a neon green cap. Three males an

President Obama made a surprise visit at Guitars Over Guns Opens in a new tab , a Chicago nonprofit that exposes youth in underserved communities to music and mentorship. He sat down with mentors from the program to learn the impact of being a My Brother’s Keeper Alliance Freedom Summer 2022 grant recipient and he even listened to the students' freestyles and beats. Learn More.

On the left, a young boy looks through binoculars as he rides a boat. He is wearing a yellow shirt and a brown and yellow hat. Waves and a skyline is in the background. On the right, a young boy holds a yellow rope. He is wearing a blue and red cap and jersey. Water is the background.

My Brother’s Keeper Alliance Freedom Summer 2023 grant recipient, Chicago Maritime Arts Center, works with young people to offer training in water safety, small boat handling, and introduce them to careers in maritime. Learn More.

Children with a range of light to deep skin tones gather around a wrapped van. The children are holding green plastic bags filled with goodies. The truck in the background reads, “Dion’s Chicago Dream.”

In partnership with the Shah Family Foundation, we ran the Local Lunchbox Opens in a new tab program to connect local restaurants and businesses with youth on the South and West Sides of Chicago to ensure that all youth have access to healthy meals during the summer months. In 2023, we served 82,740 meals to over 1,000 young people across the city.

Brandon Breaux, a Black man with a deep skin tone, stands over five seated students. On the table is an iPad and illustrations. He is wearing a mint beanie. Space art is on the wall in the background. Eva Bradley, a young woman with a light medium skin tone, stands and points at a mural at the site of the Obama Presidential Center. Eva is wearing a flannel t-shirt and has curly brown hair. Valerie Jarrett, a Black woman with a light skin tone and light brown hair, sits at a wooden table talking to a student with a deep skin tone. Her back is the camera. Valerie is wearing blue glasses and a royal blue jacket with a light blue neck scarf. Eva Bradley, a young woman with a light medium skin tone, stands in between two young women with deep skin tones as they examine a cream graphic hoodie.

Artist Brandon Breaux partnered with 15 students at Dyett High School to create a mural on the fence at the site of the Obama Presidential Center that represents the rich culture and community that surrounds Chicago’s South and West sides. Valerie Jarrett, CEO of the Obama Foundation, visited students during the creation process to present them with custom hoodies that featured the mural they created. Learn More.

A young woman with a medium deep skin tone stands in front of an art piece tribute to Breonna Taylor. She is taking pictures of the art. Two other pieces are on the wall. The girl has long box braids and is wearing a navy and khaki uniform.

Futures Series participants took a field trip to Navy Pier for a special series at EXPO Chicago. Students spent time with artists Hebru Brantley and Zanele Muholi to learn about career paths in the arts. Afterwards, they toured an art fair that exposed them to more than 170 exhibitors from 36 countries. The Futures Series exposes young people from Hyde Park Academy—the high school located right across the street from the site of the Obama Presidential Center—to a variety of career pathways through hands-on experiences and intimate conversations with accomplished leaders. Learn More.

On the left, a person spray paints, “The Voyager Scholarship” on a canvas bag using a stencil. The person’s back is to the camera. They are wearing gloves and a green and cream colored top. To the right is a stencil that reads, “Obama Foundation” and graffiti.  On the right, a girl with a deep skin tone lifts up a can of spray paint as she looks at stencils on a table. In the background, people with a range of light to deep skin tones spray graffiti panels. She is wearing gloves and a tan hoodie.

In partnership with Airbnb, 200 Obama-Chesky Voyagers created a mural at the 2023 Fall Convening that reflected the diversity of our Voyager Scholarship recipients and their collective passion and work for social change. Voyagers also spray painted custom tote bags and merchandise to take home with them.

A woman with shoulder length red hair sits at a child’s table with three little ones with deep skin tones. They are wearing navy school uniforms and play with blocks on a table. Art and posters are in the background.

The Obama-Chesky Voyager Scholarship , to support college students who plan to pursue a career in public service. This scholarship gives college students financial aid to alleviate the burden of college debt, meaningful travel experiences to expand their horizons, and a network of mentors and leaders to support them in their journey.

2022 - 2024 Voyager Genevieve Depke 

Summer Voyage: Lusaka, Zambia

Genevieve Depke: “I left Zambia and Healthy Learners with a better sense of the profound impacts of health care access, as well as with new considerations about implementing change back home in the healthcare field.”

Eight Black young men with a range of medium and deep skin tones stand behind a table and hold up the focaccia bread they baked. Six of the eight are wearing blue aprons. All are standing in a kitchen.

Eight students baked their own focaccia bread as part of the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance Culinary Careers Accelerator at Martha’s Vineyard. The six-week program immersed young men in life on the Vineyard and exposed them to what it takes to build a successful career in the hospitality industry. Learn More Opens in a new tab .

A young man with a deep skin tone smiles as he crouches in front of two brown and white goats. They are in an open field. The young man is wearing all black, a backpack, and glasses.

As part of the Culinary Careers Accelerator at Martha’s Vineyard, young men toured  Slough Farm Opens in a new tab .

A group of young girls sit on green chairs in a classroom. They are a range of medium and deep skin tones and they are wearing white and blue uniforms. Many girls wear glasses and have low haircuts.

Michelle Obama, Melinda French Gates, and Amal Clooney visit Malawi and South Africa as part of the collaboration between the Girls Opportunity Alliance, Gates Foundation, and Clooney Foundation for Justice to help end child marriage and to empower girls around the world. Learn More Opens in a new tab .

Mrs. Obama smiles as she embraces a young girl with a deep skin tone. They are in a classroom and surrounded by students sitting in green chairs. Mrs. Obama is wearing a patterned dress and a colorful headband and bracelet made by the students.

“Every girl deserves a chance to live a life worthy of her dreams.” —Michelle Obama

Empowering Leaders Around the World
President Obama sits next to Pastor Alvin Love, a Black man with a deep skin tone, as he points at several 2023 Obama Scholars. The scholars' backs are to the camera. Behind President Obama is a sign that reads, “Obama Foundation Scholars” and “Obama.org.”

President Obama participates in a conversation with Dr. Alvin Love and the 2022-2023 Obama Scholars on mentorship and place-based change making  in Chicago at Lilydale Baptist Church. Lilydale Baptist Church is where President Obama began his organizing career in 1986. Learn More.

Two women embrace. One woman, facing the camera, has a medium skin tone and is smiling as she embraces a woman with a deep skin tone and brown locs. People are blurred in the background.

Over 100 changemakers from across Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe joined President Obama for a week-long leadership and cultural experience in Athens, Greece. Learn More.

A group of people hold hands and form a circle to participate in a traditional Greek dance. Six men and women of varying skin tones are visible. They are wearing red, black, and green skirts in a range of vibrant colors.

Leaders from our programs around the world were welcomed with traditional greek dancers during a cultural dinner at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center’s Lighthouse in Athens, Greece. Throughout the week, our Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe leaders exchanged ideas, workshopped solutions, and built meaningful connections.

On the right, President Obama smiles as he extends his hand to greet a Black woman with a light skin tone. She is wearing glasses and a leopard top. She stands next to a Black man with a deep skin tone who is wearing a tan jacket and navy shirt, a Black woman with a deep skin tone who is wearing a colorful patterned sweatered and locs, and another Black woman with a deep skin tone who is wearing a red leopard jacket and gold glasses.

Leaders Africa participants connect with President Obama in Athens to share how their work is advancing solutions to shared challenges and discuss opportunities to advance and scale their changemaking. Learn More.

Michelle Obama sits in a circle with women with a range of light to deep skin tones and Michael Strautmanis. Mrs. Obama is wearing a multicolored dress and sits with her legs crossed.  A sign in the background reads, “Obama Leadership Network.”

Mrs. Obama participated in a roundtable conversation in Cape Town with 15 South Africans who were a part of previous classes of the Obama Foundation Leaders and Scholars program and are now a part of the Obama Leadership Network. Together they discussed sustainability and personal resilience for lifelong values-based leadership.

A Black woman with a deep skin tone and curly hair asks President Obama a question from the audience. She is wearing a mustard yellow suit. People sit in the audience in the background. President Obama’s back is facing the camera. He is holding a microphone and wearing a gray button up.

In intimate sessions with President Obama, Obama Foundation United States Leaders asked questions and got advice on how to accelerate change in their communities.

Defending Democracy
President Obama sits next to three people with a range of light to deep skin tones at a wooden table. He is pointing at a young woman wearing a light blue blazer who looks at him smiling.

President Obama engages with alumni in our Obama Leadership Network during a roundtable conversation in Berlin to discuss their successes, challenges, and opportunities for collaboration as the Obama Foundation supports their work on the frontlines to strengthen democracy. Learn More.

Valerie Jarrett sits on a panel alongside Maryland Governor Wes Moore, a Black man with a medium skin tone and no hair, and Ian Bassin, a man with a light skin tone who wears glasses. The screen behind them reads, “Obama Foundation Democracy Forum” in white text against a cyan background.

Obama Foundation CEO Valerie Jarrett moderates a panel conversation on ways to strengthen trust in institutions with Maryland Governor Wes Moore of and Ian Bassin, co-founder and executive director of Protect Democracy at the 2023 Democracy Forum. Learn More.

With their backs to the camera, President and Mrs. Obama stand in front of a large audience in a low lit auditorium at the 2008 Election Night Anniversary celebration. To the left of them is a small stage and podium.

The 2023 Obama Foundation Democracy Forum focused on building a more inclusive economy, reinvigorating institutions to encourage active citizenship, challenges that innovations like AI pose to economic and social inclusion, and promoting democratic culture.

A Black woman with a deep skin tone smiles at the camera. She is wearing a red sequin top and a hat that reads, “Obama, change we can believe in.” A blue lanyard on her neck reads, “Obama Foundation Democracy Forum.”

Thousands of changemakers, activists, and thought leaders from around the world convened in Chicago for the 2023 Democracy Forum.

On the left, with their backs to the camera, President and Mrs. Obama stand in front of a large audience in a low lit auditorium at the 2008 Election Night Anniversary celebration. To the left of them is a small stage and podium. On the right, four women stand in an audience. On the left, a woman with a deep skin tone holds up her phone as another woman smiles as she looks to the stage. Next to her, a woman with a medium skin tone holds a sign that reads, “change.” She has clear glasses, red lipstick, and a closed lipped smile. On the right, a woman in a red and black floral blouse smiles big. All women are wearing neck lanyards. People stand holding their phones in the background.

This year’s Forum coincided with the 15th anniversary of President Obama’s historic 2008 presidential election. To celebrate, thousands of Obama campaign and administration alumni gathered in Chicago for a special program and reception to mark the lasting impact and sense of community that was formed during the campaign.

Bringing Change Home at the Obama Presidential Center
An aerial photo of the Obama Presidential Center construction site. A concrete structure with scaffolding is in the middle with the Museum of Science and Industry, lagoon, Jackson Park, and Lake Michigan in the background, and the east end of Midway Plaisance to the left.

The Obama Presidential Center is the physical home of our mission to inspire, empower, and connect people to bring change home. It also represents a historic opportunity to build a world-class institution that celebrates democracy and our nation’s first African American President and First Lady in Jackson Park. Learn More.

President Obama stands in the middle of the Obama Presidential Center construction site. He is holding a cup of coffee and wearing an orange safety vest and a white hard hat with the Obama Foundation rising sun logo. Behind him are three Black men with deep skin tones. They are smiling and wearing orange safety vests and white and orange hard hats.

In 2024, crews will continue construction of the Obama Presidential Center—a landmark campus on the South Side of Chicago. President Obama has routinely visited the site to see updates and thank the talented workers bringing the campus to life. Donate.

On a sunny day, people with a range of light to deep skin tones gather at a community garden. In the foreground, a  young girl with a deep skin tone plays with bubbles and a young boy with a deep skin tone holds a bucket and jump rope. In the background are several flower beds and people working in the garden.

To help our neighbors get a feel for the kinds of activities and spaces they will enjoy when the Obama Presidential Center opens, over the summer we hosted a series of interactive roadshows. From hands-on planting and gardening to model the Eleanor Roosevelt Fruit & Vegetable Garden, to wellness information and training based on Teaching Kitchen, the events were an opportunity for us to put our commitment to sustainability, community, health, and wellness into action.

A low angle shot of five girls and women jumping double dutch. A young girl with a light skin tone jumps in the middle. Two Black women with deep skin tones hold the rope. A Black woman with a deep skin tone watches on the sidelines. Another woman with a deep skin tone watches from a distance. A yellow sign in the background reads, “jump rope.”

Community members jump rope at one of the Obama Presidential Center roadshows.

A black tablet, folded orange safety vest, gloves, a white hart hat with the Obama Foundation rising sun logo, a navy beanie with the rising sun logo, a sign that reads, “P44,” and chestnut work boots sit on top of a table at the site of the Obama Presidential Center construction site.

In November, President Obama toured the site one more time to take in construction progress ahead of a busy winter.

President Obama wears sunglasses, an orange safety vest, white hard hat and holds a cup of tea as he stands in front of a structure at the site of the Obama Presidential Center. A cloudy sky is in the background.

As we wrap up the year, we take great pride in our work to empower people around the world to create positive change not only in their communities, but also right here at home. We are excited for continued progress at the Obama Presidential Center and the impactful work that awaits us in 2024. We hope you’ll be a part of it.

Empower leaders and changemakers

The Barack Obama Foundation is registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization (EIN 46-4950751).