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UChicago-Obama Foundation launch scholars programme for promising civic leaders

SOURCE: JIM YOUNG / AFP
Former President Barak Obama and former FLOTUS Michelle Obama have worked with the University of Chicago, its faculty members, and students for many years.


By Shekinah Kannan 

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Here’s some welcome news for current University of Chicago (UChicago) students entering their final year of their master’s studies: UChicago and the Obama Foundation are launching a newly designed University of Chicago Obama Foundation Scholars Program, a joint initiative for promising civic leaders from around the US and the world who have demonstrated the potential to make an impact on pressing issues facing their communities.

In a statement released on June 16, the university said the programme will enable a diverse group of current graduate students to gain the education, skills, relationships, and perspective needed to address pressing societal challenges faced by communities around the world. 

The programme will be exclusive to students in the Booth School of Business, the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, or the Harris School of Public Policy

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What does the University of Chicago Obama Foundation Scholars Programme entail?

The one-year, co-curricular programme will provide scholars access to a robust set of supplemental programming to complement the final year of their core degree requirements within their respective schools. 

Thanks to co-curricular programming by the university and leadership development programmes by the Obama Foundation, students can also expect to build an interdisciplinary approach to advancing social change in a range of settings.

The new initiative builds on the Obama Foundation Scholars pilot program that was established in 2018 in partnership with the Harris School of Public Policy.

It aims to emphasise on urban challenges facing the South Side, Chicago and communities around the world. In the process, it will support a set of emerging leaders across several graduate schools on campus — with future careers spanning government agencies, non-profit organisations, and social enterprises.

Scholars will have various opportunities to experience and examine how engaging with partners on the South Side of Chicago can lead to new policies. These will provide solutions to pervasive challenges around the world. 

This will equip them with the skills to address complex social challenges in their community and committed to continuing along their path of service.

The golden ticket to an expansive network

Obama Foundation Scholars will be part of a global network. The network includes current and prior Obama Scholars cohorts at the University of Chicago and Columbia University — based on their areas of focus. They could also opt to join an active group of community leaders across the network.

“The University of Chicago has always meant a lot to Michelle and me, and we are excited to work with them to help lift up a new generation of leaders,” said former President Barack Obama. 

“As we prepare to break ground on the Obama Presidential Center, this programme will also spotlight the important work being done on civic leadership here in Chicago. Our hope is to inspire our scholars to take the lessons they learn here back to their own communities and keep making a difference.”

The programme begins in early September 2021, and applications for the 2021-22 academic year will be due June 27, 2021 by 11:59 p.m. CT. For more information on eligibility criteria and an application guide, click here.