This year took us around to Africa, Europe, the Asia Pacific—but as always, our work was rooted right here in Chicago. Take a look at 44 of the incredible moments that your support made possible in 2019.
Oul Salav grins as she hugs Mrs. Obama at the Obama Summit in October. Oul is an alumna of The Harpswell Foundation, an organization supported through the Girls Opportunity Alliance Fund. “I want to be an example for other girls in Cambodia,” Oul said. “If I can go to school, work hard, and achieve my dreams, then maybe they will believe that they can do it too. And they might even get a hug from Michelle Obama along the way.”
Young changemakers arrive for the first day of the Leaders: Asia-Pacific Hawaiʻi Design Workshop in Honolulu.
At the beginning of the year, we invited a group of 21 emerging leaders from 16 countries and territories across the Asia-Pacific region for a hands-on workshop in Hawaiʻi. Together, we explored how to design the Leaders: Asia-Pacific program.
Before launching our Leaders: Asia-Pacific program, we gathered 21 changemakers from 16 countries and territories across the region to hear about the unique challenges and opportunities they face and discuss what they need to accelerate their impact.
President Obama and Steph Curry take the stage at MBK! Rising for a town hall conversation with young men of color from across the country.
At MBK Rising!, we asked a few participants to sit for a portrait and share how they’re working to break down barriers for boys and young men of color. The collection of images is meant to capture the possibility and progress that each of these young men brings to their communities.
MBK Rising! brought together hundreds of young men of color with the leaders working to break down the barriers they face.
Nima Tisdall sits on a dock in the small fishing town in Denmark where she grew up—and where she got hooked on making fish farming fresh and sustainable. Nima co-founded the Blue Lobster, an app that makes it easier and more affordable to buy fresh, locally sourced fish—and joined other European leaders for a discussion about the future of Europe at our Obama Town Hall in Berlin.
Attendees at a town hall in Berlin, eager to discuss the future of Europe with President Obama.
President Obama stands backlit on stage while sharing his thoughts on the importance of leadership to create lasting change across Europe.
Manuel Gutierrez Perez joins President Obama and 10 other rising leaders in Bogotá, Colombia, for a roundtable discussion about the future of their region.
The Soweto Gospel Choir energizes the crowd with song, dance, and emotion during the Leaders: Africa convening. The music fueled inspiration and connection for our 200 emerging leaders.
Portraits of our Leaders: Africa participants showcase their unique personalities. These leaders are a growing network of innovative and ethical changemakers who drive positive change in their communities, the continent, and the world.
At the first-ever Civic Action Recognition Awards in partnership with Chicago Public Schools, we honored students, teachers, and organizations making a difference inside and outside the classroom. Chicago’s own Keke Palmer shares a heartfelt embrace with a student from Phillips Academy High School, whose organization Team TACTICS took home the high school Youth Impact Award.
Two volunteers from the Obama Foundation share a quiet moment during a sunset cleanup of Rainbow Beach in Chicago on Mandela Day. The annual service project honors Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy to make the world a better place.
A group of enthusiastic Obama Scholars raise their phones to capture the beauty of the Chicago skyline during an architectural cruise tour.
Staff and supporters of the Obama Foundation march in the annual Chicago Pride Parade to celebrate a simple fact: love is love.
A room full of Obama Youth Jobs Corps interns get the surprise of a lifetime when President Obama drops in unannounced on their meeting. “When President Obama walked in the room, it was just pure shock and joy,” Urban Alliance intern Adarah Hale reflected.
An Obama Foundation Scholar and a local highschooler get to know each other during an afternoon of service with My Block, My Hood, My City in North Lawndale on the South Side of Chicago.
An Obama Foundation Scholar is moved by a thank you letter from President and Mrs. Obama during Scholar Graduation.
Two Obama Foundation Scholars close out a successful day of service with My Block, My Hood, My City in Chicago.
Preethi Herman, a 2018 Obama Fellow, welcomes the incoming class of Obama Foundation Fellows during a rooftop speech at dusk in Washington, D.C.
Mrs. Obama hugs one of our Obama Foundation Fellows during their inaugural gathering in Washington, D.C.
A room filled with 100 young people from all over Chicago embark on a six-month journey in the Community Leadership Corps during a day of training in June.
A group of young leaders enthusiastically kicks off the Community Leadership Corps in Hartford, Connecticut. The program is designed to empower young people to make a difference in their communities.
President Obama shares a lighthearted moment with TIME Person of the Year Greta Thunberg after sitting down to hear about her fight against a changing climate. “You and me, we’re a team,” President Obama told the sixteen-year-old before giving her a fist bump.
Architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien demonstrate how the design of the Obama Presidential Center Museum is inspired by four hands coming together.
Like these hands, each facade of the four-sided Museum tower will be a little different from the next.
Architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien point to features of the Obama Presidential Center as President Obama, Obama Foundation President Wally Adeyemo and Executive Director Robbin Cohen take in the future world-class campus.
Louise Bernard, Obama Presidential Center Museum Director, reacts to supporters of President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns as they share artifacts and stories during a collection event in Iowa.
Obama supporters of all ages show off their Obama keepsakes during community collection events in Chicago and Iowa. From t-shirts to signs to nesting dolls, these mementos help tell the story of the Obama presidency.
Two of our neighbors peer into the windows of the Obama Presidential Center model at a community reception in Chicago.
Ahead of the 2019 Obama Foundation Summit, we asked five Obama Foundation program participants to tell us about the place that shaped who they are. Then we travelled—from as far away as Africa to right here in Chicago—to photograph them in that place and tell us how it revealed their purpose.
Alana Feldman Soler stands on the porch of her family compound in Loíza, Puerto Rico, while her mother and their dog rest on a hammock. Through her work at the Loíza Alliance for Peace, an MBK Alliance Impact Community, Alana advocates for boys and young men of color, many of whom face unemployment and discrimination—and gives back to the community that shaped who she became.
“I feel more comfortable in community settings than I feel in academic or business settings. Poor communities are what I understand and what I know and have experienced. I grew up on a family compound where my childcare was my grandmother and everyone on the street was related to me.”
Community Leadership Corps member Oluwaseyi Adeleke shares with us a place that revealed his purpose—the DuSable Museum. That’s where he rediscovered a passion for art and storytelling that he now channels it into a clothing line with purpose.
“By having access to creative spaces like DuSable, Chicago became this playground to connect with people in a meaningful way. The little kid growing up in Glenwood, IL manifested itself in the college student.”
Leaders: Africa participant Nkemdilim Uwaje Begho shows us the the Computer Village in Lagos, Nigeria—a place that shaped who she is. This is where she engages young people digital skills to combat youth unemployment.
Girls Opportunity Alliance beneficiary Ancelma Ortiz holds hands with her five-year-old daughter in Santiago Sacatepéquez, Guatemala. “I want to create a better world for girls in Guatemala like my daughter,” Ancelma said. “At the Obama Summit, I met so many other leaders who share my dream to empower girls and who believe in the power of education. I feel more ready than ever to create change.”
As some of Chicago’s premier local chefs helped us celebrate the place we call home during our Obama Summit Community Dinner, President Obama took the mic to share what Chicago means to him—and how the city gave him his start.
Mrs. Obama gives a knowing smile to her older brother, Craig Robinson, as the two take the stage at the 2019 Obama Summit. The siblings discussed how Chicago shaped them—and how they hope the Obama Presidential Center will shape the journeys of others.
President Obama listens as Yara Shahidi moderates a discussion on leadership, grassroots change, and the power of place with several young leaders from around the world at the 2019 Summit.
Mrs. Obama and Julia Roberts share their selfs portraits with a group of young women who have overcome so much to pursue their education.
Mrs. Obama greets a group of resilient young women at Cần Giuộc High School in Vietnam who are determined to get an education—and committed to helping other girls do the same.
President Obama meets the Leaders: Asia-Pacific class of 2019 during a five-day convening in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
President and Mrs. Obama work together to build furniture for a school during the Leaders: Asia-Pacific convening in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in December.
President Obama takes in images of the future Obama Presidential Center during the 2019 Summit. The world-class museum and public gathering space is expected to break ground in 2020, pending federal approvals.