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Obama Announces Fall Summit, Civics Programming For Presidential Center

By Sam Cholke | September 13, 2017 8:08am | Updated on September 13, 2017 10:08am

HYDE PARK — Barack Obama on Wednesday announced a series of events to kick off the civics programming for his presidential center before construction starts next year.

In a video posted Wednesday morning, Obama announced a summit that will bring civic leaders from around the world to Chicago on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, a new fellowship and a series of civics training days around the country.

Obama said people have written to him through his foundation and said they are ready to embrace the kind of citizenship that makes democracy work.

“One of the things you told us is how much you want to hear from one another, folks who aren’t like you, who live in different places and are tackling unique challenges of their own,” Obama said. “So that’s why this October we’re bringing together hundreds of leaders from around the world for a hands-on exchange of ideas in my hometown and the future site of the Obama Presidential Center, the city of Chicago.”

Obama is expected to attend, but the details of where the event will be, who will speak or whether it will be open to the public have not been released.

Before that, Obama’s foundation will start a series of three training days starting in Chicago on Oct. 14. The events will teach young people ages 18 to 24 how to put civics into action and how to incorporate their own story into their civic life. The training sessions are being lead by local universities, churches and youth groups.

David Simas, CEO of the Obama Foundation, said the initiatives are a direct result of the feedback the foundation has received from the public over the last several months.

“From leaders who are already making an impact, to people who are interested in becoming more involved, but don’t know where to start, our goal is to make our programs accessible to anyone, anywhere, with any background or level of experience,” Simas said. “This is only the beginning — our programs will grow as we continue to listen and learn.”

The foundation is also taking on 20 fellows, leaders who are community organizers, inventors, artists, entrepreneurs, journalists and others who are considered “rising stars” in civic engagement. The fellows will get two years of training and resources to help amplify their work. 

Information on how people can apply for the fellowships has not been announced.

The foundation also announced that My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, the program to address achievement gaps facing young men of color which Obama helped launch in 2014, will be rolled into the foundation.

More details are expected at a meeting at 5:45 p.m. Thursday at the McCormick Place Hyatt Regency, 2233 S. Martin Luther King Drive.