Former President Barack Obama and his wife, former First Lady Michelle, recently announced that they plan to donate $2 million of their own money to support summer jobs for the youth of Chicago. According to the Huffington Post, Obama made the announcement while presenting preliminary plans for his presidential library and center in Chicago’s Jackson Park neighborhood.
Speaking directly about why the couple decided to donate, Obama stated, “We don’t want to wait for a building,” he said. “One of the things that we will be starting this year is Michelle and I personally are going to donate $2 million to our summer jobs programs here in the community, so that right away, young people can get to work and we can start providing opportunities to all of them.”
He went further to explain exactly why the need for his presidential center is so important for the youth of Chicago, who are at high risk of violence and gangs. Obama firmly said, “We’ll be working with the city, we’ll be working with the county, we’ll be working with businesses, because part of what we want to do is reach young people who might be at risk if they don’t have something to do during the summers,” he said. “But part of what we also want to do is to reach older youth who may be prepared for apprenticeships because one of the things that this project is going to do is generate jobs. We want to make sure that some of those young people can get trained so people don’t say, ‘Why didn’t you hire anybody from the neighborhood?’”
Obama ended his statement noting the considerable benefits the presidential center would bring to Chicago, including 200 to 300 permanent jobs, and 1,400 to 1,500 jobs during construction. Additionally, economic development as a result of the library would produce an additional 2,000 jobs.