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Highlights from President Obama’s May 2023 Chicago trip

At the Obama Foundation, we're committed to inspiring, empowering, and connecting the next generation of changemakers in our own backyard in Chicago and around the world. This week, President Obama returned home to see our impact in action.

President Obama visits Chicago to launch Model Communities and surprise MBK participants

During his time back home in Chicago, President Obama heard from some of the inspiring leaders who represent communities within our My Brother’s Keeper Alliance network. They are the individuals who have shifted outcomes for boys and young men of color through educational or violence prevention ecosystems. At the Impact in Action convening, they exchanged best practices and explored ideas on how to keep boys and young men of color happy, safe, and thriving.

President Obama sits on a panel with three men and one woman. They all have a range of light to deep skin tones. A screen in the background reads, “Impact in Action” and “MBK Alliance.”


President Obama listens as Ashley Phillipsen, a Black woman with a deep skin tone, holds a microphone and speaks.


A side profile of President Obama smiling as he holds a microphone.


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At the event, we announced  MBK Model Communities, a new initiative that seeks to expand tangible impact for boys and young men of color across the country. The Model Communities are: Newark, New Jersey; Omaha, Nebraska; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Yonkers, New York.

President Obama moderated a panel with leaders from the four communities on the key factors that have contributed to their community’s success, their strategies for collective impact, and the work that lies ahead.

“Progress is in our reach,” President Obama said during the Impact in Action convening. “Part of what we’re highlighting here today is that with the application of targeted, data-supportive investments, we can make progress in a meaningful time frame. You can actually improve the lives of millions of people that in turn, make our society work better. My main charge to everybody here is to fight cynicism. When work gets hard or something doesn’t work, don’t get discouraged, innovate, and try something new. Be honest about what is working and what isn’t working. Build up trust. Do that internally, but also project that externally to tell the story of your success.”

President Obama stands in the middle of a recording studio. He is surrounded by 15 other young people with a range of light to deep skin tones. President Obama has his arms crossed and is wearing black slacks and a gray button down shirt.


President Obama listens in as a Black male with a deep skin tone raps from his phone. Three others are in the background.


President Obama poses for a photo with Guitars Over Guns participants. He is surrounded by 17 others with a range of light to deep skin tones.


Seven Guitars Over Guns participants laugh with one another. The Black men are a range of ages and medium to deep skin tones.


President Obama shakes the hand of a Black man with a deep skin tone and striped black shirt. Several others stand in the background.


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President Obama’s visit home wouldn’t be complete without connecting with South Side youth. He 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 the mentors of the program to learn how being a  Freedom Summer 2022 grant recipient has afforded them opportunities to create additional programming for Chicago’s youth. He even listened to the students’ freestyles and beats.

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 “”

President Obama participates in a conversation with Dr. Alvin Love and the 2022-2023 Obama Scholars cohort on mentorship and place-based change making at Lilydale Baptist Church in Chicago, IL on May 10, 2023.

President Obama also stopped by the  2023 Obama Scholars graduation to discuss with them the value of place-based changemaking and learn how our Scholars plan to bring change home to their own communities now that they’ve completed their studies. The event was a full circle moment for the president. He returned to the basement of Lilydale First Baptist Church on the South Side—where his organizing career began in 1986—to celebrate with graduates and Pastor Alvin Love.

We’re always excited to support our community and show how the next generation of leaders are already tackling the biggest challenges we’re facing—and President Obama is, too!

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