• SoSideN4Hope

Obama Foundation's Progress on Community Commitments

The Obama Foundation’s Commitment to Neighbors: A Progress Summary

On May 4, 2018,the Obama Foundation pledged a Community Commitment that the Obama Presidential Center will directly benefit neighboring communities. The following summarizes specific commitments relating to jobs, economic development, housing and neighborhood stabilization, youth leadership programs, community resources, and preservation of parkland.

We have sourced this content from the Obama Foundation Website. To read the full document, which the Obama Foundation will update from time to time, click here.


The Obama Presidential Center will serve as a hub on Chicago’s South Side to inspire and train the next generation of civic leaders in underserved neighborhoods across Chicago and around the world. The OPC will serve as an economic engine for the South Sideand will partner with and strengthen existing community-based organizations. It will embrace meaningful diversity and inclusion, focusing on the surrounding community and South and West Side neighbors and other underrepresented populations throughout Chicago.

The OPC will be a resource to nearby communitiesproviding accessible space to gather, educate, socialize and entertain. It willleverage the power of the Obama name to attract additional investment and resources to our community to address comprehensive needs of economic development, including protection against unwanted displacement.

The museum at the OPC will stand as a tribute to the self-determination of the African American journey that led to the election of the first black president.

Economic Impact & Jobs

The OPC is expected to bring $3.1 Billion in economic activity to Chicago and expects to leverage this investment to support local businesses and encourage additional investments in the area.

The OPC will create a new model for diversity and inclusion.

Current Status: Underway

In 2017, the Obama Foundation spent more than $6 million with more than 70 diverse businesses across sectors including legal, digital, insurance, and design among others.A quarter of that—$1.5 million—was with Chicago-based companies. The Foundation is looking to increase that number steadily as it grows. To read the first Obama Foundation Annual Report, published August 2018, click here.

OPC Construction Jobs: Creating the most diverse, local construction workforce in Chicago history.

Current Status: Underway

The Obama Foundation has contracted Lakeside Alliance as their construction managers. They have committed to ensuring that at least 50% of worker- hours-on-the -job are performed by City of Chicago residents. Lakeside will ensure that a minimum of fifty percent of subcontracts for the estimated $300-350 million construction project will go to diverse firms, including at least 35% with minority business enterprises (MBEs), 10% with women business enterprises (WBEs), and no less than 5% with businesses owned by veterans, individuals with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ community.

The Lakeside team will support the establishment of apprenticeship training programs in Washington Park, Woodlawn and South Shore, and other areas in the city where they do not currently exist or could benefit from more robust support.

Lakeside Alliance will aggressively reach out to the available workforce in the community. It will host career, training and apprenticeship opportunity fairs across City College campuses and maintain an active and visible community presence working with trusted partner organizations.

Lakeside Alliance has met, and continues to meet, with hundreds of people at career fairs, job information sessions, and ward meetingsaround Chicagosince it was selected in January 2018. Lakeside has launched a 50-ward road show to meet with residents from all parts of Chicago. Already, its team has engaged with residents in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 20th, 28th, 29th, and 37th wards. To read about more Lakeside community outreach events, click here.

Lakeside Alliance will open a South Side Resource Center, allowing residents storefront access to OPC builders.

Current Status: Complete

Lakeside Alliance, the construction manager for the Obama Presidential Center, officially opened a Resource Center on October 29, 2018, for community members to learn more about job opportunities and updates on the OPC project. The center is located at 1750 E. 71st Street, sharing space with the South Shore Chamber of Commerce.

Obama Foundation will hire a construction diversity monitoring and reporting firm to ensure local, diverse hiring and continued transparency and accountability throughout the development and construction process of the OPC.

Current Status: Complete

The Obama Foundation has hired a construction diversity monitoring and reporting firm.

The Foundation will appoint a Director of Strategic Sourcing to be responsible for ensuring the Foundation has effective systems in place to expand equity and access to opportunity for diverse professional service providers across all industries.

Current Status: Complete

In August 2018, the Obama Foundation hired Eric Foster as Director of Strategic Sourcing & Business Diversity, focused on developing relationships with diverse businesses in order to connect them with opportunities to work with the Obama Foundation.

Economic Development: Strengthening the economic climate of the South Side and ensuring shared prosperity with our neighbors

The Obama Foundation will work with community, business, government, and grassroots leaders to develop and implement a comprehensive economic development plan for the South Side.

The Foundation will support policies, tools and entrepreneurial training that incentivize the development of a strong small, locally-owned business corridor around the OPC and beyond.

Housing: Ensuring Residents of the South Side Continue to call the South Side Home

The Obama Foundation recognizes both the need for economic investment in South Side neighborhoods and the need to make housing affordable for current residents.  The Foundation has committed its support to neighborhood stabilization efforts, assistance with the creation of a strategy around vacant land and responsible affordable housing, and will support policies that ensure residents who wish to stay in the area will be given the tools that allow them to do so.

Civic Engagement

The goal of the Obama Foundation is to make its civic engagement programs accessible to everyone. Civic innovators, young leaders, and everyday citizens will be equipped with the skills and tools needed to create change in their communities.

Youth Programming: Inspiring & Empowering Young People to Change Their World

The Obama Foundation will create space and opportunities to educate and engage young people of the South and West Sides of Chicago and beyond.

The Foundation is partnering with public schools like Hyde Park Academy, and other neighborhood schools, supporting civics education and leadership development.

Current Status: Underway

In December 2018, the Foundation announced a new joint award with Chicago Public Schools to celebrate and honor Chicago students, schools, educators, and community partners who have made a powerful impact in their communities through civic engagement and action.The awards opened for applications in January, and the award recipients will be named toward the end of the 2018-2019 school year.

In early 2018, the Obama Foundation also announced its inaugural Obama Foundation Fellow, Dominique Jordan Turner, President and CEO of Chicago Scholars, a local non-profit organization that is committed to college access, success, and leadership development for Chicago’s youth.

The Foundation will build a partnership with the Chicago Public Library to create a free and open 21st-Century library experience on the campus of the OPC.

Current Status: Complete

In May 2018, the Obama Foundation, the City of Chicago and the Chicago Public Library announced that a new public library branch will be located at the future Obama Presidential Center,bringing a new neighborhood anchor and the best of Chicago Public Library programming and resources to surrounding South Side communities.

The Foundation, in partnership with Urban Alliance, will continue to expand the Obama Youth Job Corps to provide professional internships and workforce training for local high school students.

Current Status: Underway

The Obama Foundation is proud to continue partnering with Urban Alliance for our second year. Obama Youth Job Corps begins workforce readiness training starting in the 10th grade. By the time students are in the 12th grade, they will get to participate in a 10-month, paid, professional internship through UA’s flagship High School Internship Program, which combines work experience with job skills training, one-on-one mentoring, and comprehensive support services during and after the internship.

The Foundation will continue the efforts begun in 2017 to provide free civic leadership training opportunities to the young emerging leaders of Chicago.

Current Status: Underway

In the summer of 2018, the Obama Foundation launched the Community Leadership Corps, a program designed to help young people aged 18-25 create the world they want to live in by working to address an issue in their community.The Foundation held in-person trainings and gatherings in Chicago in June, August, and November 2018.

The Foundation will continue the work of My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, particularly as it relates to mentoring and youth violence prevention.

Current Status: Underway

The Foundation will initially invest $1 million in Chicago for staffing, training, and financial support to assist local organizationsthat are doing the most innovative work improving the lives of young men of color. 

Current Status: Complete

The MBK Alliance Community Challenge Competition invested $1 million in Chicago to assist organizations supporting boys and young men of color.

In November 2018, MBK Alliance announced the selection of five Chicago organizations as part of a national competition called the Community Challenge, to accelerate impact for boys and young men of color partly through working with communities on mentorship and youth violence prevention programs.

Global Connections: Convening leaders from Chicago and around the world to exchange ideas and explore creative solutions to common problems

Current Status: Underway

The Obama Foundation will create a global network connecting leaders from the South and West sides to influencers from around the world. The Foundation will bring global programming to Chicagoandpilot programs on the South Side that facilitate positive change by giving local residents lifelong learning resources and business training.

In August 2018, the Foundation hosted 37 Obama Foundation Scholars in Chicago for a week. The Scholars learned about the city’s rich history and met with local community leaders focused on the history of civic work and community development in Chicago. For visit details, click here.

Twenty-five of the Obama Foundation Scholars are based at University of Chicago and will have continual opportunities for meaningful service and to learn from leaders across Chicago during their year on the South Side.

Building a Community Resource

In 1871, famed landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux said the park they envisioned was intended for everyone, but in particular for the “thousands of the very class of citizens whose convenience most needs to be considered…the toiling population of Chicago.” The landscape architects believed that urban parks were also democratic and cultural places for all classes of people to interact.

Preserving Parkland: Designed to honor Olmsted’s democratic idea of a park as a gathering place open and accessible to all.

The Obama Presidential Center landscape will embrace the design principles of Olmsted and Vaux and honor the rich history of the park. The OPC will sit on 19.3 acres of Jackson Park’s 540-acre park, continuing Chicago’s rich tradition of museums in the parks.

The footprints of the OPC’s four buildings total only 2.6 acres of the 19.3-acre site. Of those 2.6 acres, 1.6 acres worth of “roof” area is covered by totally accessible open space. The remaining 16.7 acres will remain completely open and publicly accessible, including landscaped active and passive areas and a one acre plaza.

Together with the road improvements and our design to preserve parkland for the public, there will be a net gain of parkland in Jackson Park.

The parkland at the OPC will give South Side residents a world-class park, with lush gardens, varied topography, beautiful walking paths along the lagoon, children’s play areas, and a great lawn that can be used for quiet relaxation, special events, or just everyday fun.  The landscape will also include upwards of 400 new trees to be planted across the site and will include natural vegetation that attracts a broad range of birds.

The OPC design will make improvements to enhance access to the Women’s Garden and will also retain the historic comfort station. Continuing President Obama’s commitment to protecting the earth’s resources, the OPC will be, at a minimum, LEED v4 platinum certified.

Obama Presidential Center Campus: Reinvesting in Historic Jackson Park to Create a Hub of Life and Vibrancy for South Siders

The OPC will be designed as an open, engaging community center that offers an auditorium for performing arts, a restaurant with a test kitchen for community programming, and a recording studio – all available to the public without an admission fee.

The OPC will offer space to community organizations and schools for education, after-school or summer activities ranging from use of the Athletic Center to space in the Forum free of charge.

Programming at the OPC will include public lectures, cultural activities, and civic engagement opportunities that will be open to all of our neighbors.

The OPC campus will lead with universal design principles, providing a place that is equally welcoming for all visitors.

The OPC will connect OPC visitors to the community attractions, creating pathways for guests to explore the neighborhood that raised Mrs. Obama and brought President Obama to Chicago.

The OPC Museum will celebrate the nation’s first African American president and first family through an understanding of progressive movementsand American history — including the unique legacy of the South Side. It will be affordable to local residents.

The OPC will work closely with fellow members of the South Museum Campus to bring more visitors and create collaborations and synergies with institutions like the Du Sable Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry.

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