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Citizen Obama Wants Your Ideas for the Future

Jan 21, 2017

WantsJust before the inauguration of his successor yesterday, former President Barack Obama unveiled Obama.org, the online home of The Obama Foundation. For now, the site is mainly focused on gathering input from the public about what the Foundation’s, and the outgoing President’s, future priorities should be.

The Obama Foundation will oversee the Obama Presidential Center, to be located on Chicago’s historically black South Side. It will house the Obama Presidential archives, but it will also be the headquarters of the Obama Foundation. As the Obamas laid out in an announcement video yesterday, that will break the mold of staid Presidential libraries of the past.

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One goal of the Foundation will be to “inspire people globally to ‘show up’ for the most important office in any democracy, that of citizen,” and visitors to the Center will “discover real-time opportunities to learn about and get involved with the issues of today.”

As part of that push for engagement, Obama.org is asking visitors to share “your ideas, your hopes, your dreams about what we can achieve together” by submitting them to the new homepage. Users are asked to outline their thoughts about what “makes a good citizen,” and can also share photos with the Foundation for future use.

The Obama Foundation’s early emphasis on citizenship and engagement signals a contrast with the Clinton Foundation. That organization’s focus has largely been international aid and development, which, along with its entanglements with high-profile donors, may have contributed to perceptions that Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was disconnected from the lives of everyday voters.

By contrast, Michelle Obama says that her husband’s new institution “will be your Presidential center just as much as it is ours.”

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