We asked, and you answered.

I’m asking you to believe. Not in my ability to make change, but in yours.

– President Barack Obama

In his Farewell Address as President, Barack Obama made this ask of us as fellow citizens.

It was not the first time President Obama invited us to believe in ourselves as changemakers. It was, as the President said, “the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago,” in his first Inaugural Address — his very first moments as President.

This belief, this faith in the ability for each one of us to make a difference in our world, has been the guiding principle of President and Mrs. Obama’s two decades in public service: that the hard work of democracy begins not with government, or with parties, or with any one politician, but within each one of us.

This same belief is the North Star of the Obama Foundation.

The Obama Foundation is a working, living center for citizenship. Our goal is to develop the next generation of citizens, to shape what it means to be an engaged and active citizen in the 21st Century.

That’s exactly why, with the launch of obama.org last month, President and Mrs. Obama invited all of you to join them in building this Foundation. As Mrs. Obama put it, “This will be your Foundation as much as it is ours.”

So, we’re walking the walk. Since Day 1, we have asked you take the mic and add your voice, to tell us what good citizenship means to you and what you want this Foundation to be.

We asked, and you answered.

Through email, social media, and the feedback forms on our website, we’ve received hundreds of thousands of your ideas, photos, stories of citizenship, and suggestions for working together on building this Foundation.

Here are some of the themes we’ve seen emerging, along with just a few inspiring examples of what you’ve sent along.

The importance of information and education to healthy citizenship.

Thousands of your submissions emphasized the importance of staying informed on issues, both local and global, affecting your world. Many of you explored the roles of both traditional and social media in democracy.

Hope and fear in a complex world.

Many submissions focused on attitudes that inform good citizenship: hope, optimism, pragmatism — and how to manage and channel worries and fears in a complicated and changing world.

An understanding that citizenship is bigger than any one person.

Another consistent theme in your submissions was the importance of looking beyond your own interests to support those in need. You told us how you respect those who approach our country’s problems with an attitude that we’re all in this together.

This is just the beginning of our dialogue with all of you. As we continue to ramp up, you’ll see us highlight more and more of your ideas, whether on our social media channels or the website itself, as well as provide both high-level and more detailed statistical analysis of what we’re hearing.

So: thank you, and keep it up! Your ideas will inform how we focus our efforts, how obama.org works and looks, and what course this great project of citizenship takes from here.


David Simas
CEO, Obama Foundation

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