Our Top Stories
Kori SchulmanFebruary 24, 2011
12:05 PM EDT
Tonight, the White House will celebrate Black History Month with a tribute to the legendary Motown Sound. Hosted by the President and First Lady, the program pays tribute to Motown’s fifty year legacy and its distinctive soul-infused pop music sound that solidified its popularity in American culture and influenced American music. You're invited to watch live on WhiteHouse.gov/live.
This is the eighth in a series of evenings celebrating the music that tells the story of America. Since 2009, the President and First Lady have hosted musical tributes to genres including Jazz, Country, Classical, Latin, Music of the Civil Rights Movement and Broadway.
The all-star tribute will include stars from the Motown Records label’s golden age and performances by artists of today who have been influenced by Motown and its powerful legacy. Performers include Smokey Robinson, Natasha Bedingfield, Sheryl Crow, Jamie Foxx, Gloriana, Nick Jonas, Ledisi, John Legend, Amber Riley, Mark Salling, Seal and Jordin Sparks with Greg Phillinganes as the night’s music director. Watch "The Motown Sound: In Performance at the White House" Live at 7:15 p.m. EST.
This afternoon, the First Lady will host high school students from around the country for an educational workshop on the history of Motown. Taught by GRAMMY Museum Executive Director Robert Santelli, “The Sound of Young America” will give students an overview of the history of Motown music and outline the importance the genre had in the integration of African-American artists onto the pop charts. Introduced by the First Lady and moderated by Santelli, the program will also feature Motown founder Berry Gordy and musical legend Smokey Robinson. Watch "The Sound of Young America: The History of Motown" live at 1:30 p.m. EST.
February 24, 2011
10:44 AM EDT
Why am I pursuing a life in public service? What led me to the White House as a Fall Intern in 2010?
I became an intern not because I wanted that “gold” on my resume. I didn’t become an intern because I wanted to simply go through the illustrious gates of the White House. On the day I completed my internship application to the White House, I paused and thought to myself “I want to do this because I want to help.”
I wanted to help people. I wanted to help people like me, who have a disability that significantly impacts their lifestyle. I wanted to help people from all levels of socio-economical backgrounds. I wanted to help all Americans. I wanted to be part of the solution, from my generation. To be the change in the world that I wanted to see happening.
As soon as I got the notification that I was accepted into the program, I swelled with pride and I couldn’t wait to start interning for the White House! When I finally came to the White House on my first day, I was amazed by the level of warmth, generosity, understanding, and passion that I saw in everybody. There are so many admirable people toiling away to do good work at the Executive Office of the President and I gained more and more respect every single day for those in public service.
Austan GoolsbeeFebruary 24, 2011
09:32 AM EDT
Last week, through our new Advise the Advisor program, I asked small businesses and entrepreneurs for their feedback on the challenges and obstacles they’re facing.
We heard from small business owners and entrepreneurs around the country. On Tuesday, during a special live discussion at the Winning the Future Forum on Small Business in Cleveland, I addressed some of the questions and concerns you submitted, and President Obama even dropped by to take a few of your questions as well.
Jesse LeeFebruary 23, 2011
05:36 PM EDT
Speaking from the White House, the President says the violence in Libya is "outrageous" and "unacceptable," and that his Administration is looking at the "full range of options we have to respond to this crisis." His full remarks below:
February 23, 2011
01:33 PM EDT
Yesterday, I was in Cleveland with President Obama, a large contingent of his Cabinet, and about 150 small business owners. The President opened the day by telling the small business owners that the goal was “to hear from you, to gain your counsel, and to talk about how America can help you succeed so that you can keep helping America succeed.”
In my breakout session on Entrepreneurship, we heard from 25 small business owners. The President stopped by and had the chance to talk with a barbecue restaurant owner, a portable microwave manufacturer, a woman-owned construction company, and others.
Several topics came up. We talked about how access to capital is still a big problem for too many entrepreneurs and small business owners. We discussed the importance of the small business tax cuts that the President has already signed into law. We talked about promoting more high-growth entrepreneurship through efforts like Startup America. And we discussed ways to identify and remove barriers to entrepreneurship, including a new series of roundtables in entrepreneurial communities that will be kicked off next week in Durham, North Carolina.
We need to do everything we can to support those small business owners – and others across America – because they’re the ones that are working every day to out-innovate, out-build, and out-compete the rest of the world.
Moving forward, we’ll continue to support regional economies like Northeast Ohio as they work to create good jobs. The SBA, for example, has helped support a clustering effort led by a local high-tech economic development organization called NorTech, which the President discussed in his closing remarks. And we’re also expanding a successful and intensive entrepreneur training program to nearby Youngstown, Ohio.
And all of us throughout the Administration will continue to listen to the needs of entrepreneurs and small business owners, using their feedback and insights to ensure that we’re supporting them as they grow our economy and create jobs.
Katelyn SabochikFebruary 23, 2011
10:58 AM EDT
The Race to the Top Commencement Challenge is offering schools and students the chance of a lifetime. We’re asking that public high schools tell us how they’re preparing students for college and a career, and one lucky school will have President Obama as a commencement speaker.
The deadline for the Commencement Challenge has been extended to March 11, 2011, and applying is easy. To be considered for this opportunity, your school just needs to submit three essays and some data about student achievement that should be readily accessible. Visit WhiteHouse.gov/Commencement to get started!
Yesterday, Melody Barnes, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, was on BET’s 106 & Park to discuss the Commencement Challenge. Check out the video on BET.com.
February 23, 2011
09:48 AM EDT
Ed. Note: This post is part of the Celebrating Black History Month series, which highlights African Americans from across the Administration whose work contributes to the President's goals for winning the future.
As Surgeon General, I am privileged to serve as “America’s Doctor,” providing the public with the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and the health of the nation. I also oversee the operational command of 6,500 uniformed health officers in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service. These officers serve in locations around the world to promote, protect, and advance the health of the American People.
I grew up in Daphne, Alabama, and graduated from high school in the nearby town of Fairhope. I received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Xavier University in New Orleans and attended Morehouse School of Medicine before receiving my medical degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I later obtained a masters’ degree in business administration from Tulane University in New Orleans. After completing my family medicine residency in Macon, Georgia, I established a clinic in a small fishing village in Alabama to help its many uninsured residents. That clinic in Bayou La Batre is still operating today, despite being destroyed by Hurricane Georges in 1998, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and a devastating fire in 2006. President Obama nominated me for the Surgeon General’s post in July 2009, and I was confirmed by the Senate for that position in November of the same year.
Prevention is the foundation of public health, and prevention is the foundation of my work as Surgeon General. If we want to truly reform health care in this country, we need to prevent people from getting sick in the first place, and stop disease before it starts. In the health reform law that was enacted in 2010, Congress created a commission to develop the first-ever national prevention strategy, and named me to chair the commission. The panel, made up of the heads of 17 federal departments and agencies, is providing coordination and leadership at the federal level to ensure that the government is focused on prevention.
Before becoming Surgeon General, I served on the Sullivan Commission, a blue-ribbon panel that looked for ways to diversify the health care workforce. The commission found that, while 25 percent of the nation’s population is minority, only 6 percent of physicians are minorities. That is the same percentage that existed when a similar report was issued in 1910–100 years earlier. Meanwhile, less than 9 percent of nurses are minorities.
Although the nation’s minority populations are increasing, in recent years there has been a downward trend in minority enrollment at our nation’s medical, dental and nursing schools. Unless current trends are quickly reversed, our nation faces a growing ethnic and racial disconnect between those who seek care and those who provide that excellent care.
Dr. Regina Benjamin is the Surgeon General of the United States.
Jesse LeeFebruary 22, 2011
03:26 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Click play below to jump straight to the President's portion of the online forum, rewind to watch the full session with CEA Chairman Austan Goolsbee.
The President joined some of his top economic advisors in Cleveland today for a "Winning the Future" Forum on Small Business -- after some opening remarks and stopping by a couple of the breakout sessions, he also stopped by an online session with CEA Chairman Austan Goolsbee where he explained a bit about why he was there:
Well, Cleveland I think is a great example of cities all across the country, but especially in the Midwest, who are starting to reinvent themselves. These are typically manufacturing cities. They were built on the auto industry, on heavy manufacturing, steel. And as manufacturing has become much more productive, fewer workers are in manufacturing -- even though manufacturing continues to contribute a lot to the economy -- and so these regions are having to think what’s going to be the businesses of the future that end up employing more people and providing more opportunity. And small businesses are going to be the ones that I think are going to be making the biggest impact on regions like this one -- a lot of risk-takers, a lot of entrepreneurs here.
What we wanted to do is make sure that we listen to small businesses, hear from them, find out what kind of barriers they’re meeting -- whether it’s capital, or finding the right workforce, or how do they partner with larger companies. And so far we've already gotten some terrific ideas.
The first question the President took was on a topic that came up a lot both in the course of the summit, and in response to our "Advise the Advisor" series that Goolsbee led over the last week:
Macon PhillipsFebruary 22, 2011
03:15 PM EDTViewing this video requires Adobe Flash Player 8 or higher. Download the free player.
The HealthCare.gov family on Facebook is growing. Today, the Department of Health and Human Services launched a new page dedicated to making sure that young adults and their parents know the steps they need to take to stay insured. The new facebook page contains step-by-step instructions on how young adults can stay on their parents’ plan and features a video with Kalpen Modi, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.
Doug RandFebruary 22, 2011
09:36 AM EDT
Ed. Note: Watch the White House Winning the Future Forum on Small Business live starting at 11:35AM EST. The President will give opening remarks at 11:35, CEA Chairman Austan Goolsbee will hold a special live discussion at 1:00, and the President will close with remarks on what he heard at 1:55.
Northeast Ohio has staked its future on high-growth entrepreneurship. That’s why today, President Obama is bringing five Cabinet secretaries and his top economic advisors to Cleveland for a White House Winning the Future Forum on Small Business. In special sessions on high-growth entrepreneurship, access to capital, workforce development, boosting exports, and cleantech innovation, they’ll hear entrepreneurs from across the region address the real challenges and opportunities facing small and growing businesses every day.
One of these companies is ABSMaterials, based in Wooster, Ohio. It developed and patented super-absorbent material called “Osorb” that soaks up organic contaminants like a sponge. This innovative, reusable technology can help clean up oil spills, polluted waterways, and contaminated drinking water. In just the last two years, ABSMaterials has brought this technology from a novel idea to a revenue-generating product. The company has raised $3.5 million from private investors, and is creating jobs.
The growth of ABSMaterials did not happen in a vacuum. Northeast Ohio has spent well over a decade growing the kind of entrepreneurial ecosystem that allows innovative startups to thrive. Some of the growth capital for ABSMaterials came from JumpStart, a regional economic development network that’s been so successful, it recently announced that it will be scaling the model across the country—a major private-sector commitment to U.S. entrepreneurship in response to the President’s Startup America call to action.
Marie JohnsFebruary 21, 2011
03:29 PM EDT
Ed. Note: This post is part of the Celebrating Black History Month series, which highlights African Americans from across the Administration whose work contributes to the President's vision for winning the future.
I come from a family of small business owners and have seen firsthand how important they are to strengthening our communities and our economy. My grandfather owned a landscaping company in my hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana. As one of the first African-American owned business in Indiana to win a statewide contract, his company maintained the land around state highways. After my uncle earned his degree in pharmaceutical science at Howard University, my grandfather helped him start his own pharmacy, which served the city’s African-American community. Their spirit of entrepreneurship has always inspired me. Following a 21 year career in the telecommunications industry, I founded my own small business: an organizational effectiveness and public policy consulting practice.
A proud graduate of Indiana University, I worked my way up from a first level manager position at Verizon Washington, and as an African-American, became the first woman to lead the company. Whether serving as president of a major telecom provider or chairing the DC Chamber of Commerce, I have been committed to Main Street and underserved communities throughout my professional life. I created Students Educated for Economic Development Success (SEEDS), a mentoring program that prepared over 200 high school dropouts for entry-level jobs in the telecommunications industry. I also served as the founding chair of the Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science.
Now, as Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), I have the privilege of supporting the small businesses that are innovating, growing the economy, and creating jobs every day. I am especially focused on helping the SBA reach businesses in underserved markets, such as African-American communities. These businesses often have a harder time getting the tools and financing they need in order to compete and thrive. Our loan programs help banks lend more to small businesses everywhere, and our counselors reach millions of entrepreneurs and small business owners each year.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit with several minority-owned businesses in Columbia, South Carolina. Like small companies throughout the country, these businesses have struggled, but they are poised for growth. Their message was abundantly clear: give us the tools we need to innovate and grow, and not only will we survive these tough economic times, but we will prosper for years to come.
I am honored to serve a President who truly understands how important small businesses are to our nation and who is dedicated to ensuring that they have access to the resources they need to flourish.
Marie Johns is the Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Administration
Kori SchulmanFebruary 18, 2011
08:11 PM EDT
A quick look at the week of February 14, 2011:
A Budget for Winning the Future: The President unveils his 2012 Budget. Find out more about what's in it, explore an interactive breakdown of where your tax dollar go, and learn how it puts America back on a track to fiscal discipline while still investing in the future.
White House White Board: OMB Director Jack Lew discusses the tough choices made in the 2012 Budget.
Race to the Top: The deadline to apply for the Race to the Top Commencement Challenge, and to have President Obama speak at your high school's commencement, is February 25th. See what happened last year when the President surprised graduating seniors at Kalamazoo Central High School, the winners of last year's Commencement Challenge.
February 18, 2011
02:39 PM EDT
Last week, Vice President Joe Biden paid a visit to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky to meet with the Fort Campbell High School Football Team, whose notable success in recent years has come despite the many challenges they face. While the high school is public and receives government funding just like many others, its students all have one thing in common; parents who serve at Fort Campbell. Fort Campbell is home to the famous 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), as well as two prestigious Special Operations Command units, the 5th Special Forces Group and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. So in addition to coping with the day to day stresses of high school and the demands of elite athletics, many of the players also have to deal with the reality of having a parent in one of the Army’s most deployed contingency forces.
Maureen Tracey-MooneyFebruary 18, 2011
12:33 PM EDT
School reform is often portrayed as an unavoidable conflict between labor (teachers) and management (superintendents and principals). Well, earlier this week I joined a conference of local teachers’ union presidents, school district superintendents and school board presidents that are working together to make important inroads against that conventional wisdom.
These educators represent 150 school districts, and they came together to talk about how to use labor-management collaboration to improve student achievement and transform schools. Each participating district was required to bring each of these kinds of leaders, so that all the decision makers were at the table. Even more, in order to be selected each team had to commit to continuing this work beyond just a few days in Denver, pledging to address tough issues like evaluation, professional development and top to bottom accountability.
February 18, 2011
12:20 PM EDT
Ed. Note: This post is part of the Celebrating Black History Month series, which highlights African Americans from across the Administration whose work contributes to the President's goals for winning the future.
From North Carolina to Washington, D. C., my career spans over thirty years with the Department of Agriculture. I grew up in Farmville, a small southern town in North Carolina, and attended a segregated elementary and high school. My parents instilled in me a strong work ethic and commitment to service. The foundation laid by my parents empowered me to succeed in earning three degrees. I earned a Doctorate and Masters of Science from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the Bachelor’s of Science from North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina. I have worked at the local, state and national levels. For me, it has been a long journey from the segregated south to the nation’s capital, but I am proud to serve in this historic Administration.
My personal and professional goals have always been to positively impact the lives of people through education to ensure they are empowered to reach their full potential. Over my career, I often served as the first African-American or female in the positions I held. After the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act, I worked to integrate USDA county offices and took the first group of black 4-H youth to compete in a state completion. This was an exciting opportunity. Previously, 4-H competitions were segregated and did not recognize black 4-H groups. I later became the first African American to hold a senior executive position in USDA’s Extension Service. Agriculture is typically a male-dominated career, so it was significant when I was selected as the first woman to serve as an Extension Administrator at Tennessee State University. In that position, I provided support for research, education, and extension programs to increase the prosperity, security, and sustainability of America’s families, farms and ranches, business firms, and communities. The experience allowed me to become the first female Dean in Agriculture at Virginia State University. There, I was responsible for providing leadership for agriculture, human ecology, research, and cooperative extension.
In my current position as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration, I am leading efforts to transform the culture of USDA and carry out Secretary Vilsack’s vision to transform USDA into a model organization, positioned to meet the present and future needs of its employees and customers. During the State of the Union Address, the President laid out a plan to win the future by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building the rest of the world. Through education and outreach programs, we are reforming and transforming our government so that it’s leaner and smarter for the 21st century. It is an honor to be a key player as we improve management and transparency and ensure equal access to departmental programs at USDA.
Dr. Alma Hobbs is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Jesse LeeFebruary 18, 2011
11:02 AM EDT
Today the President is in Hillsboro, Oregon to visit the Intel campus, where he’ll get to see the world’s most advanced semiconductor manufacturing facility with Intel CEO Paul Otellini. The President will also learn more about Intel’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education programs and check out student demonstrations by Intel Science Talent Search finalists.
It’s a perfect demonstration of the importance of out-educating our competitors in order to win the future, and that’s what the President will talk about afterwards – watch the live stream here at 2:35PM EST, 11:35AM PST:
UPDATE: This event has now concluded, check WhiteHouse.gov/video later for the recording.
Elizabeth WarrenFebruary 18, 2011
11:00 AM EDT
A couple weeks ago, we asked you to submit your suggestions on building an effective new consumer bureau. Since then, we’ve been taking some of these suggestions and asking members of our team to record video responses. Some of them are pretty camera shy – and some aren’t – but once they started talking about what they do and what the consumer bureau is up to, everybody was ready to jump in.
In just those couple weeks we received hundreds of suggestions on Twitter, YouTube, and our website, ConsumerFinance.gov – and we’ve read or listened to every single one – most of them more than once.
Katelyn SabochikFebruary 18, 2011
09:40 AM EDT
UPDATE: The deadline for the Race to the Top Commencement Challenge has been extended to March 11, 2011. This post has been updated to reflect that change. Apply now!
Ed. Note: The Race to the Top Commencement Challenge is back! Applications for the 2011 Commencement Challenge are open until March 11. To learn more about the Commencement Challenge and submit your application visit WhiteHouse.gov/Commencement.
Every wondered what would happen if the President of the United States walked into an auditorium full of unsuspecting high school seniors?
That’s exactly what happened on June 7, 2010 when President Obama surprised the graduating class at Kalamazoo Central High School, the winners of the 2010 Race to the Top Commencement Challenge.
Last year, President Obama delivered the commencement address at Kalamazoo Central High School and he could deliver the commencement address at your school this year – but only if you apply before March 11, 2011.
Arun ChaudharyFebruary 18, 2011
12:00 AM EDT
Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, President Obama released his federal budget, discussing the need to take responsibility for our deficits while investing in education, to prepare our children to be competitive in the global economy and win the future. He also responded to the situation in Egypt, chatted with some Boy Scouts, and honored some of our greatest Americans.