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COLUMN: Why the Obama Foundation is ingenious

Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 aren’t just Halloween and All Souls Day. This year, they also mark the days of the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago.

This capstone event features famous speakers such as Michelle Obama and Prince Harry and will end with a concert featuring acts Chance the Rapper and Gloria Estefan. 

However, what happens in between all the star-studded activities is truly deserving of some recognition. 

Big thinkers, project starters and those dedicated to improving civic life are meeting in person and online to network and help each other build a more promising future. 

This summit and foundation are phenomenal, modern ways to think about empowering leaders in the 21st century.

The Obama Foundation’s mission is to “inspire and empower people to change their world.” 

Through fellowships, community work in the south side of Chicago and this annual summit, the organization’s goal is to empower young leaders to take the vital next step they need to launch something that will help improve their communities, countries and world. 

Every step of the way the Obama Foundation has utilized technology and community in a positive way. They are used to unite people from different backgrounds to share ideas, disagree respectfully and build lasting cross-continental relationships.

For the summit, people can tune in from around the world via webcast to watch speakers and breakout sessions. Participants are encouraged to interact with the event on Twitter. The Obama Foundation encourages a free flow of ideas and information. 

What is perhaps most striking about the summit attendees this week is that they come from over 60 countries, and various religious creeds and political backgrounds. President Obama’s vision for the foundation is to build a global community regardless of those cultural, religious or ideological differences. 

“Real change comes from persuasion and openness to others,” said Obama at his opening remarks of the summit Wednesday.

The foundation also encourages people who are “at that critical next step.” This refers to people who are talented but not connected enough to take their initiative to the next level. 

Creating a community of those committed to empowering one another to help others is a promising mission for our generation of young leaders. 

“Everybody has a story in them that is sacred,"  said Obama. And turning those personal experiences into impactful initiatives, programs and movements is the pay-it-forward model that anchors the Obama Foundation. 

Although it is in its first year, the Obama Foundation has the potential to be long lasting and a prestigious honor. 

Empowering leaders to help others is a 21st century concept that will not go out of style any time soon.


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