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An update on how we’re responding in this time of need


Along with the release of our 2019 Annual Report, Obama Foundation Chief Executive Officer David Simas and Obama Foundation President Wally Adeyemo shared the update below on how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the Foundation's work. You can read the full Annual Report, including a message from President Obama, here.

Dear Friends,

With the release of our 2019 Annual Report, we wanted to thank you for all the work you’ve made possible. Thanks to your support, we’ve built a global network of leaders numbering in the thousands, whose work fills these pages. And we’ve continued to make progress on our vision for the Obama Presidential Center on the South Side of Chicago.

Even as we reflect on our progress in 2019, we wanted to give you a brief update on the impact COVID-19 is having on the Foundation. Similar to many other organizations, the COVID-19 pandemic upended our normal way of life and doing business. We have taken a number of important steps to protect the health and safety of our staff, program participants, and community members—our first and most important priority during this time.

We are also focused on supporting the young leaders around the world who are calling for an end to systemic racism. The Foundation has challenged mayors, city councils, and police oversight bodies to pledge to address police use of force policies in collaboration with those in their communities calling for reform. Our work in support of the movement for Black lives is consistent with the Foundation’s goal of cultivating and accelerating the development of a diverse network of emerging leaders dedicated to changing the world, even if how we do this work has changed in light of COVID-19.

In many ways, COVID-19 has simply accelerated changes that were already taking place in society—including the use of technology to connect and convene. As our teams have settled into what could be a long period of physical disruption and social distancing, we are proud of the way we have shifted our programming to suit a world of virtual engagement and continue our mission to inspire, empower, and connect young leaders.

While we expect to continue in-person gatherings and trainings in the future, our default for now will be digital. This approach will put us in the best position to continue our work in a world where COVID-19 may prevent large gatherings for the foreseeable future, while aligning with President Obama’s legacy as our first digital president. We are far from immune to the economic realities that our world faces. Like many nonprofits, our revenues have decreased significantly in 2020. We are taking financially prudent steps to ensure that our organization is well-positioned to deliver against our mission now and in the future. Our most senior executives have voluntarily taken a 20 percent pay cut, we have paused all hiring without essential need, and we have paused or renegotiated many of our contracts.

In addition to these steps, we are prepared to take additional measures to put ourselves in a position to meet our long-term goals and emerge from what could be a prolonged period of uncertainty on stable footing. As we continue to adapt to our new reality and transition our programs to respond to the needs of this period, we are grateful to our supporters for continued partnership on our path ahead.

Thank you for being a part of this work,

Signature of CEO David Simas
Signature of Wally Adeyemo