Improving Opportunity and Lives: The Clinton Foundation’s Impact Across the United States
By Donna E. Shalala, President, Clinton Foundation
The Clinton Foundation is a complex global charity that works around the world to improve lives. In 70 countries, more than 11.5 million patients have access to lower cost treatment and diagnostics for HIV/AIDS and malaria. In Malawi, Rwanda, and Tanzania, we’re empowering more than 150,000 smallholder farmers by educating them on the latest techniques and technologies for improving their crop yields, and, in turn, their incomes. We’re also working with partners to reduce the impact of carbon emissions by planting more than 2.6 million trees with local farmers — sequestering more than 200,000 tons of CO2. And, across Latin America and the Caribbean, thousands of farmers and entrepreneurs are accessing bigger markets with their products and improving their ability to earn a living.
The Clinton Foundation also works across the United States to improve health and wellness in our schools and communities, give parents the tools to stimulate brain development in early childhood, strengthen our economic competitiveness, provide opportunities to volunteer and give back, and continue President Clinton’s legacy through the Clinton Presidential Center and Library in Little Rock. More than 20 million students in nearly 35,000 U.S. schools are benefitting from improved physical education, health education, and healthier food; we’re working with partners to prevent 10,000 opioid overdose deaths nationwide; more than 835,000 books will be distributed by end of this year to kids and families in our underserved communities; and, we’re spurring investment in our future, generating volunteer opportunities, and at every step, building upon the legacy of President Clinton through our work, together.
This work — and our commitment to improving lives here in the United States and around the world — continues each and every day. Below is a quick look into the Clinton Foundation’s impact nationwide.
Fighting Childhood Obesity & Promoting Healthy Habits for 20 Million Kids
Jean McTavish is the principal at New York City’s West Side High, an alternative school where many students endure serious obstacles that threaten their education. But at 5 a.m., when Jean wakes up, she doesn’t focus on the negatives. She instead turns her students’ attention toward something positive, and maybe a little surprising: spinning. Three days a week, Principal Jean teaches spin classes to students before school.
Jean is one of the thousands of educators across the country working with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, an organization we co-founded with the American Heart Association that works to help kids develop lifelong, healthy habits by ensuring the environments that surround them provide and promote good health.
As a result of the Alliance’s work, nearly 35,000 schools in 50 states provide students with healthier foods and more physical activity in an effort to decrease childhood obesity; more than 20 million students across the U.S. have access to healthier school meals; more than 2.9 million children have expanded access to preventative health care; and there has been a 90 percent decrease in total beverage calories shipped to schools.
President Clinton has previously written about this work and what it means to him for CNN, and you can read more about one of the country’s healthiest schools in this op-ed from American Heart Association Chief Executive Officer Nancy Brown in The Huffington Post.
Addressing a National Epidemic: Prescription Drug Abuse
Every 19 minutes, someone in the United States dies from prescription drug misuse. When an overdose occurs, every second counts. That’s why the Clinton Foundation’s Health Matters Initiative works to make life-saving Naloxone more accessible to those who can respond and intervene quickly in the event of an emergency or overdose.
Health Matters was early in recognizing and beginning to address this national crisis and is working with partners to prevent 10,000 opioid overdose deaths nationwide. Not only have we forged agreements with companies, like Kaléo and Adapt Pharma, Inc., to negotiate a lower price for first responders, as was reported in The New York Times, we’re also partnering with Adapt Pharma, Inc. and the National School Nurses Association to make sure that a free carton of NARCAN® (naloxone hydrochloride) Nasal Spray is accessible to all high schools in the United States, which you can read more about in this story from US News & World Report.
Additionally, we’ve convened researchers and academia to develop concrete recommendations for ways to address the epidemic at scale, a collaboration featured by the John Hopkins School of Public Health Magazine.
Building a Strong Start for Babies & Families
Today, almost 60 percent of children in the United States start kindergarten unprepared, lagging behind their peers in critical language, math, and social-emotional skills.
That’s why Too Small to Fail works to promote the importance of early brain and language development and empower parents with the tools they need to talk, read, and sing with their young children from birth. Through partnerships with pediatricians, hospitals, faith-based leaders, community based organizations, businesses, entertainment industry leaders, and others, Too Small to Fail is meeting parents where they are to help them prepare their children for success in school and beyond.
Because of Too Small to Fail’s partnerships and programs, more than 835,000 books will be distributed by the end of 2016 to encourage reading to babies from birth; nine television shows and counting (including Orange is the New Black, Law & Order SVU, The Fosters, Jane the Virgin, and Doc McStuffins) have incorporated messaging about early language development into their storylines; more than 125,000 moms receive research-based tips about the importance of talking, reading, and singing to their newborn children through Text4Baby, (learn more from Chelsea Clinton and Elmo in this story from PEOPLE); 12 playgrounds have been designed to incorporate “Talking is Teaching” messaging (like this one in Oakland); and we’re providing 5,000 laundromats in underserved communities with resources to make even the most mundane task — laundry — an opportunity to talk, read, sing, and bond with your baby.
Convening Leaders to Spur U.S. Economic Competitiveness
From 2011–2016, CGI America brought together leaders in business, philanthropy, government, and nonprofits to develop solutions that encourage continued economic growth, support long-term competitiveness, and increase social mobility in the United States. CGI America participants have made more than 550 Commitments to Action, which have improved the lives of more than 4.9 million people.
CGI America commitments are investing in American infrastructure, brain power, and economic sustainability — you can read more about it in this piece from President Clinton and CGI commitment-makers in Bloomberg Businessweek. For example, a commitment by the AFL-CIO has resulted in more than $16 billion allocated — $12.4 billion of which has been deployed — to U.S. infrastructure investments, creating at least 100,000 jobs (read more about it from The Washington Post). Another commitment, this one by Carnegie Corporation, originally aimed to recruit and train 20,000 STEM teachers, and has since expanded its scope to reach 100,000 STEM teachers as an extension of President Obama’s call for “100Kin10.” Another commitment by the Community Reinvestment Fund and its local, state, and national partners to launch the Detroit Home Mortgage will provide $40 million in second mortgages for 1,000 homebuyers in Detroit — you can read about it from Next City, “There’s a New Plan to Fix Detroit’s Broken Homebuying System.”
Creating Service Opportunities to Give Back to Our Communities
This past June, we partnered with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to bring together volunteers for a Day of Action that promoted access to healthy foods and environments throughout the city of Atlanta. We planted trees, sorted fresh fruits and vegetables, and gardened in communal lots, as was covered locally by NBC.
This is one example of the more than 30 Days of Action, or service opportunities, that the Clinton Foundation has held in the U.S. and abroad. Since it was first founded by Chelsea Clinton in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Clinton Foundation Day of Action program has mobilized more than 6,500 volunteers donating more than 27,000 volunteer hours.
Continuing President Clinton’s Legacy through the Clinton Presidential Center
This past summer, I went down to the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock to attend the second graduation of the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, a bipartisan educational partnership with the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation, and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation, with the goal of cultivating leadership strengths emboldening them with the practical skills needed to drive solution-oriented action in their communities. Learn more about the program as told by the George W. Bush Institute in the Huffington Post, and hear directly from some of its graduates, including Casey Gerald, Holly Gordon, and Jake Harriman.
The Clinton Presidential Center is a world-class educational and cultural venue offering a variety of educational programs, special events, exhibitions, and lectures, presenting a unique perspective of the work — past, present, and future — of the 42nd President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton. Not only is it home to the Little Rock offices of the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, it is also the first institution in the nation to offer a Master of Public Service (MPS) degree through the Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas.
Since 2004, the Clinton Presidential Center has welcomed more than 4 million visitors from all over the world to its grounds, including more than 315,000 students who have visited free of charge. The Center was the first LEED-certified Presidential Center in the nation, providing an energy efficient space for 78 million pages of official records, 20 million emails, thousands of objects, and, to date, 43 temporary exhibits. And, an October 2014 study by the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce found that the Center has helped catalyze $3.3 billion in economic impact in the Little Rock community.
In summary, I couldn’t be more proud of the impact the Clinton Foundation programs have had on communities here in the United States. Each and every day we come to work with the goal of making kids and communities healthier, strengthening our children’s chances for a strong start in life, and providing opportunities to build upon President Clinton’s incredible legacy of service.