UChicago welcomes inaugural class of Obama Foundation Scholars

Twenty-five scholars from across the globe begin program at the Harris School of Public Policy

Today the Obama Foundation and the University of Chicago announced the inaugural class of Obama Foundation Scholars at the Harris School of Public Policy, welcoming 25 emerging leaders from around the globe to the year-long immersive program.

Each of the scholars, who come from Asia, Africa, Latin America, South Asia, the Middle East and Europe, has shown a commitment to finding practical solutions to complex challenges facing society. These change-makers are focused on a variety of global issues ranging from climate change to education to government transparency, and they are committed to reinvesting their newly acquired skills and networks in their communities after the conclusion of the program.

To learn more about the individual scholars, please visit https://harris.uchicago.edu/meet-scholars.

Consistent with the Obama Foundation’s mission, the Scholars’ program brings together 37 emerging leaders from around the globe to New York and Chicago to participate in year-long immersive learning experiences. The scholars at UChicago join the previously announced group of 12 scholars at Columbia University to complete the first cohort.

Beginning today the scholars from both universities are convening in Chicago for a week of Obama Foundation programming to kick off their year-long program. During the orientation, scholars will participate in workshops and conversations focused on building community, storytelling, action planning, and communication. They also will take part in meetings with local community leaders focused on the history of civic work and community development in Chicago and participate in a service project in Englewood.

“At a time of great and urgent need for policy innovation, we are honored that Barack and Michelle Obama have chosen the University of Chicago, and specifically Harris, as one of the sites for this truly extraordinary program,” said Katherine Baicker, dean and Emmett Dedmon Professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. “These exceptional Scholars, who have already made an impact in their careers, will be vibrant members of our Harris community, bringing unique perspectives to our student body and amplifying our impact around the globe.”

“We are thrilled to welcome the inaugural cohort of Obama Foundation Scholars to our hometown, Chicago. We hope that this year at the University of Chicago and Columbia University challenges them to develop greater leadership and community-building skills and that at the end of the year they will be better prepared to tackle challenges and create positive change. We are excited to start this year-long journey together and add this inspiring group of Scholars to our growing global network of people doing extraordinary work in their communities,” said Bernadette Meehan, Chief International Officer at the Obama Foundation.

The 25 scholars at UChicago will participate in a new one-year degree program in which students will earn a Master of Arts in International Development and Policy at the Harris School of Public Policy. The 12 Scholars in New York will work with Columbia World Projects, a new initiative in which faculty and researchers from Columbia University partner with governments, nonprofits, the private sector, and intergovernmental organizations to create tangible solutions to real-world issues.

In addition to coursework at Harris, the Obama Foundation will offer a robust program of leadership development and civic engagement throughout the academic year to help scholars gain the real-world skills, networks, tools, and experiences to expand the impact of their work when they return home. Some of these Foundation activities will include experiences throughout Chicago and the South Side, bringing the scholars’ unique perspectives to Chicago. By engaging with the local community, the Harris scholars will have the opportunity to complement the rigorous, evidence-based policy approaches they will learn in the classroom, further preparing them for future leadership roles.

More information on the Obama Foundation Scholars program can be found at obama.org/scholars.

Emerging leaders interested in applying for the next class of Obama Foundation Scholars at UChicago should visit https://apply-harris.uchicago.edu/apply/.