You Can Apply To Be Honored As A "Young Leader" By Obama's Foundation

by Joseph D. Lyons

If you're longing for a sober video of former President Barack Obama motivating you to change the world, the wait is over. Obama returned to YouTube Wednesday to sell some of the new initiatives that the Obama Foundation is launching this year including a summit that will be held on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 in Chicago.

Obama introduced the idea himself in the video, noting that he's been asking the public (or at least his fans) the same thing since 2008. "I asked you to believe not in my ability to bring change, but in yours," he explains to those watching. Now, in order to help young leaders do just that, Obama, through his foundation, is finding ways to support them and build networks.

"We're bringing together hundreds of leaders from all around the world for a hands-on exchange of ideas in my hometown," Obama says in the video, which was posted to YouTube Wednesday and then added to the foundation's website and emailed to followers. He explained more in a letter about the foundation's next steps:

This Summit will be a place to share your stories, learn from one another, and then go back to your communities to lead others in the hard work of change. It will also help guide our Foundation as we continue to design programs that connect and support the next generation of young leaders here in the United States and around the globe.

There are plenty of people whom the organization is inviting personally, but if you'd like to attend, it's not to late to let them know. You can apply online by Sep. 27, and they will consider extending you an invitation.

"We’re saving a handful of spots for applicants through," the group explains on their website. "We’re inviting incredible young leaders who are passionate about social change and civic engagement to apply to attend."

"The ideal candidate is active in their community, and will bring a unique perspective to share with other attendees," the foundation goes on to explain. "No matter if you’re from a rural town or a big city, we want to hear about the positive impact you’re having in your community, and why you should join us in Chicago." If that sounds like they're talking to you, pop in an application.

Obama explained that the summit, and all of the group's initiatives, come in response to a call from the organization to young people to see what would be the most empowering, to help them "embrace the kind of active citizenship that makes our democracy work." He explains that he met with people around the world to get ideas and then went about implementing with the foundation staff. One of those was that young leaders wanted to meet each other, hence the summit.

Other initiatives, include the Obama Foundation Fellowship, which will "support outstanding civic innovators" through "hands-on training, resources, and leadership development." The 20 fellows named in 2017 will also meet to further their work with help from the Obama Foundation. The idea is to find people who are doing the work but not already supported by traditional networks of NGOs and funders.

Another new way that the foundation plans to reach out is through training days. Open to 150 young people, aged 18 to 24, the training days in Boston, Chicago, and Tempe, Arizona, will allow explore diverse areas of study. They're partnering with groups "from universities to churches to opportunity youth organizations" in each city to lead and teach the trainings.

Obama, in his letter of introduction for the foundation's new programs takes a positive note, one that many of you may have missed since January. But he's not worried. "I’ve never been more certain that we’ll rise to the occasion — together," he signs off in his note. Maybe you're one of the people he's talking about. Consider submitting an application.