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The Obama Foundation turns 5!

President and Mrs. Obama hug a group of program participants at the Obama Foundation Summit.

Celebrating our first five years with five ways we’re making a difference.

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the Obama Foundation. That’s five years of inspiring, empowering, and connecting people to change their world for the better. It’s a vision President and Mrs. Obama shared as they left the White House in 2017. They asked all of us to help shape it. And together, we’ve been able to accomplish so much.

What's Next from Barack and Michelle Obama

That’s why today, we’re celebrating five key ways we’re making a difference. More than a look back, this is the living foundation for our next five years and beyond. So take a moment to celebrate along with us. Then  sign up to receive email updates as we train the next generation of leaders and bring the Obama Presidential Center to life.


1. We’re inspiring and empowering the next generation

From the beginning, our focus has been on giving emerging leaders the tools they need to be successful. Five years later, we’ve launched nine leadership programs and served thousands of changemakers around the world. We’ve brought the  My Brother’s Keeper Alliance and the  Girls Opportunity Alliance into the fold, building on President Obama’s call to serve and nurture boys and young men of color and expanding Mrs. Obama’s work to ensure that 98 million adolescent girls get the education they deserve.

Young Men - Service project
A woman with light skin and brown hair gestures while speaking to the man next to her. She is not wearing a mask, but the other people in the photo looking at her are wearing masks.

2. We’re connecting leaders across borders

Beyond training, one of the biggest assets we offer young leaders is a network of peers that gives them the opportunity to learn from each other. Through our regional Leaders programs in  Europe Africa, and  Asia Pacific, we’ve connected 600 emerging leaders from around the world. And as they learn from each other, we’re also learning from them. President Obama has met with hundreds of our leaders and joined them for small roundtable conversations to hear first hand how the Foundation can support their work.

Obama Foundation Leaders Program

In partnership with the University of Chicago and Columbia University, we’ve also designed the innovative  Scholars program, which offers leaders from around the world leadership development, networking activities, and trainings throughout the academic year.

Two women and one male who are neutral light skin tone wearing formal clothing, sitting next to each other in room with a blue and white wall that say "Obama foundation scholars"
A rendering depiction of the Plaza at the Obama Presidential Center.

3. We’re building a new world-class destination on the South Side

In September 2021,  we broke ground on the Obama Presidential Center in historic Jackson Park. Reaching that milestone wouldn’t have been possible without the vibrant local businesses, organizations, and community leaders that make this city such a great place to call home. Together, they raised their voices and gave their time in support of our mission.

The Obama Presidential Center: A Place to Get Active and Take Action

As construction continues, our team will keep working with city agencies and partner organizations to create jobs through our  Workforce Initiative, drive economic opportunity, and unlock the potential that has always existed on the South Side.

Mrs. Obama hugs an attendee as President Obama stands in the background.

President Obama, Michelle Obama, Sasha Obama, and Malia Obama all march with a large crowd of people ranging from young to old and light to deep skin tones in the middle of a city

4. We’re honoring those on whose shoulders we stand

We know that President Obama’s story wouldn’t have been possible without the contributions of fearless activists that came before him. That’s why the Obama Presidential Center experience will celebrate the people and movements that defined his presidency, from Selma to the March on Washington. By preserving their legacy, generations of visitors will find new inspiration to pick up the baton and put their own change into the world.

Special Reveal: See the text that will appear on the Obama Presidential Center Museum

President Obama sitting in a chair, wearing formal clothes infront of three men all medium brown skin, one of the men have dreads looking at the guy next to him with a man bun wearing a black and white shirt

5. We’re moving people from hope to action

In President Obama’s farewell speech he asked us all to believe “not in my ability to bring about change, but in yours.” Because when everyday people show up, dive in and take action, the world gets better. Whether it’s  natural disasters, the  COVID-19 pandemic, or  protests for equality and justice, we’re providing resources to inspire and empower hundreds of thousands of people to transform their hopes and dreams—and even anguish—into action. And moving people to action is the ultimate measure of our work.

Activists In Chicago Protest Police Brutality In Death Of George Floyd

Chris Dilts, 2020

3D rendering of the Obama Presidential Center Plaza

Follow Along

Sign up for our new Obama Presidential Center Explorer email series and come along for the journey as we build the Center. We’ll have exclusive updates and previews all the way through our Grand Opening in 2025.