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Kicking Off the Road to Groundbreaking for the Obama Presidential Center

By Valerie Jarrett, President, The Obama Foundation

The City of Chicago is beginning its pre-construction work on Jackson Park, getting it ready for the Obama Presidential Center’s official groundbreaking later this fall. This prep work officially kicks off our Road to Groundbreaking—a celebration of Chicago and everyone who is helping us make this dream a reality. I hope you’ll join us on what I suspect will be an exciting and inspiring journey for all of us.

As we celebrate this milestone, we recognize that getting to this point would not have been possible without the leadership of Mayor Lightfoot, the City of Chicago, Emerald South, and the many community voices—residents, organizers, and leaders from every sector—who have been involved in the process along the way and are helping bring a historic investment to the South Side.

When I joined the Obama Foundation as President this past February, I arrived just as the robust federal regulatory review process concluded—a long-awaited moment that cleared the way for our plans to break ground on the Obama Presidential Center this fall. Since then, our team’s work in the community and on the Center has been thrust into high gear.

For us, this project is not just about bringing a new world class destination to the South Side—it’s about investing in the surrounding community. We’ve committed to awarding 50 percent of the subcontracting packages for the Center to diverse vendors and in March, we announced the Obama Presidential Center Construction Workforce Initiative in partnership with We Can Build It because we believe the people building the Center should look like the community it calls home. We Can Build It is a group of Chicago-based organizations that have a proven track record of helping residents on the South and West Sides develop successful careers in construction.

The program will create a construction workforce that is not only trained with the skills to build the Center, but will become part of a diverse pipeline of talent that can work on construction projects across the city. Overall, the Center is estimated to generate thousands of direct and indirect jobs during and after construction.

The Road to Groundbreaking will include updates on our innovative workforce initiative and other community programming, from the Obama Youth Jobs Corps to our work in Chicago through the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. The celebration will also feature wonderful community events and even more Obama Presidential Center special announcements and first looks, like our reveal of the text that will appear on the exterior of the Obama Presidential Center Museum—the video still gives me goosebumps!

Again, I hope you’ll join us on this exciting journey, and I—and everyone at the Obama Foundation—can’t wait to see you along the way.

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