Read all posts from June 2011
June 14, 2011
03:15 PM EST
Seven years ago, after leading the initial campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, General James Mattis, now the commander of U.S. Central Command, called on the Department of Defense to “unleash us from the tether of fuel.”
Just last week on June 7th, General David Petraeus, echoed that call in a memo to all U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. “Energy is the lifeblood of our warfighting capabilities,” he said, noting that high fuel use means risks for the mission and for each Service member and civilian. “We can and will do better,” he directed.
In the years between those two statements, the Department of Defense has in fact taken steps to improve our use of energy in military operations. But General Petraeus is right: we can and will do better.
And that is why, earlier today, we released “Energy for the Warfighter,” the Department of Defense’s first Operational Energy Strategy. The Strategy sets the overall direction for DoD’s energy use in military operations.
Every military capability, every mission, and every Service member depends on a reliable supply of energy. Last year, that meant the Department consumed some 5 billion gallons of fuel, at a cost of $13 billion. The money we spend on energy not only costs the taxpayer, it costs the warfighter. A dollar spent on increased energy costs is a dollar not spent on other warfighting priorities.
Erin LindsayJune 13, 2011
07:28 PM EST
Watch the Vice President's full remarks here.
Today, the Vice President hosted an event at the White House where he announced that the President has asked him to take on a new role holding the Cabinet accountable for cutting waste in their agencies as part of the Administration’s ongoing effort to make government more accountable to the American people.
“For too long the federal government has allowed billions of taxpayer dollars to be wasted on inefficiencies,” said Vice President Biden. “Over the last two years, we have been slashing waste across government and today we are putting Washington on notice: the President and I are committed to changing the way government works and we are stepping up the hunt for misspent dollars.”
The Vice President was joined for the announcement by Lew, Zients, and chairman of the Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board Earl Devaney, along with several agency Inspectors General, Chief Financial Officers, Deputy Secretaries, and additional Administration officials.
At the event, the Vice President outlined two new steps the government would be taking as part of an Executive Order establishing the Campaign to Cut Waste that the President signed this morning. The Executive Order creates a new Government Accountability and Transparency Board that will bring together the nation’s top waste, fraud and abuse watchdogs to ensure we bring the kind of unprecedented transparency and accountability we saw in the Recovery Act to all federal spending, and secondly it directs Cabinet members to report regularly on their progress in cutting waste and improving effectiveness.
Over the past two years, we have begun to change how Washington does business and saved billions of taxpayer dollars. We’re demanding a better deal for taxpayers by cutting back on no-bid contracts and making businesses compete, going line by line through the budget looking for wasteful or duplicative programs to cut, and stopping billions of government payments from going to the wrong people, including dead people, prisoners, or fraudsters. We’ve also done simple, but common sense things, like saving millions of dollars each year by ending the printing and shipping of Federal Registers that people already read online.
Still, we need to do more. Today, taxpayers foot the bill for thousands of vacant and unneeded federal properties that because of politics and red tape can’t be sold or disposed of. We’ve got a proposal before Congress to change that by setting up an independent commission to cut through the bureaucracy and bring the property to the market, saving taxpayer dollars $15 billion.
Additionally, as one of the campaign’s first steps, the Administration will be targeting duplication and waste among federal websites. There are almost 2,000 separate websites across the Federal Government. With so many separate sites, Americans often do not know where to turn for information. We’re putting a halt to the creation of any new websites, and will eliminate more than half over the next year.
Cutting waste and reforming Washington has been a priority for this Administration since day one, and with today’s announcement we are bringing an unprecedented level of accountability to make the government more efficient and more responsive to the America people.
P.S.: In case you missed it, President Obama and Vice President Biden launched the Campaign to Cut Waste in a joint video messageto the American people.
Erin LindsayJune 13, 2011
07:17 PM EST
Today, President Obama traveled to Durham, NC to meet with the Jobs and Competitiveness Council at the corporate and U.S. manufacturing headquarters of Cree, a leading manufacturer of energy efficient LED lighting. While at Cree, the President toured the company’s LED lighting product assembly facility, met with the Jobs Council and delivered remarks to Cree employees, Jobs Council members, local business owners and representatives from nearby engineering colleges and universities.
The President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness is led by GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt and is composed of representatives from various sectors of the economy andleaders in diverse industries -- people running large and small companies that represent millions of Americans helping the economy run every single day. The Jobs Council held their first meeting at the White House on February 24, 2011. At that time the Council committed to holding their second meeting outside of Washington, DC. Cree’s facility, located in the heart of North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park area, was selected to hold the second meeting.
President Barack Obama tours the manufacturing facilities at Cree, Inc., a leading manufacturer of energy efficient LED lighting, in Durham, N.C. June 13, 2011. With the Presient are: Chuck Swoboda, Chairman and CEO of Cree, Inc., left, and Matthew Rose, Chairman and CEO, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, right. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
In his remarks today, the President commended Cree for exemplifying the potential of American innovation, manufacturing and advanced technology:
Today the small business that a group of N.C. State engineering students founded almost 25 years ago is a global company. It’s got 5,000 employees. Next month, your new production line will begin running 24/7. And soon you’ll add another 400,000 square feet of space on a new site next door. So you’re helping to lead a clean energy revolution. You’re helping lead the comeback of American manufacturing. This is a company where the future will be won.
Sarah BernardJune 13, 2011
06:55 PM EST
Last Wednesday, the White House gathered a group of editors and writers from an array of personal finance and financial news websites for an afternoon of policy briefings and candid dialogue around ways to communicate more effecitvely with citizens online who are feeling their wallets pinched in these economic times.
Much of the afternoon involved a variety of policy briefings from senior officials including CEA Chair Austan Goolsbee adressing the economic recovery, CTO Aneesh Chopra explaining the Startup America Partnership, policy advisor Heather Zichal speaking to gas prices and the Administration's energy policy, Elizabeth Warren providing a consumer protections update, and NEC Director Gene Sperling covering fiscal policy. President Obama surprised the group by dropping by to welcome guests and take a few questions.
President Barack Obama drops by the Personal Finance Online Summit in Room 430 of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, June 8, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
- Gregg Fields, Bankrate.com
- Eric Schurenberg, BNET (CBS Interactive Business Network)
- Courtney Comstock, Business Insider
- Jennifer Liberto, CNNMoney
- Dan Ray, CreditCards.com
- Peter Goodman, DailyFinance (AOL / The Huffington Post)
- Amy Kniss, eHow
- Brian Richards and Ilan Moscovitz, Fool.com
- Janet Novack, Forbes
- Cristen Conger, HowStuffWorks
- Jeff Reeves, InvestorPlace
- David Hogberg, Investors.com
- Douglas Harbrecht, Kiplinger
- Ruth Mantell, MarketWatch (WSJ Digital Network)
- Kevin Depew, Minyanville
- Ken Chandler and Steve Coz, Moneynews (Newsmax)
- Theo Francis, Morningstar
- John Flinn, MSN Money
- Meg Marco, The Consumerist
- Ryan Avent, The Economist
- Dan Gross and Aaraon Task, Yahoo! Finance (and The Daily Ticker)
- Stephen Reitmeister, Zacks
June 13, 2011
06:45 PM EST
June 15th, 2011 marks the 6th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. This is an important opportunity for Americans and people around the world to recommit ourselves to ending elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
Elder abuse, like domestic violence and child abuse, is a public health crisis that crosses all socio-economic lines. Millions of older Americans are abused, neglected, or exploited each year – often by someone they know – and an estimated 84 percent of these incidents are not reported.
Elder abuse and exploitation is an issue that must be addressed. As Americans enjoy longer lives and the senior population continues to grow, abuse will likely grow with it. And, sadly, during hard economic times the prevalence of financial exploitation increases.
June 13, 2011
06:05 PM EST
President Obama has made clear that as part of his commitment to “restore science to its rightful place” the United States needs to do more to engage young people and underrepresented groups in the pursuit of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and careers.
Although women represent a majority of college graduates in the United States, they still constitute a significant minority of those receiving STEM degrees. The Obama Administration is committed to increasing their participation by encouraging, supporting, and retaining women who will play a driving role in advancing the science and technologies of the future.
Tomorrow, the White House will invite 16 women scientists representing a number of countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and South America to participate in a dialogue with senior women scientists from across the Administration on increasing the number of Women in STEM fields. Having traveled from various parts of the globe to take part in the State Department’s Changing Mindsets Symposium, these visiting scientists will share their experiences and impressions on best practices for engaging women and girls in this critical arena.
Moderated by Sherburne Abbott, Associate Director for Environment, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the discussion will also feature insights from the following U.S. officials:
- Dr. Marcia McNutt, Director, US Geological Survey, Department of the Interior
- Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services
- Dr. Cora Marrett, Deputy Director, National Science Foundation
- Dr. Machi Dilworth, Director, Office of International Science and Engineering, National Science Foundation
You too can participate in this discussion. Before the event, tweet your questions for participants using the tag #WHwomeninscience, then watch the conversation live tomorrow, June 14th at 11 a.m. on WhiteHouse.gov/Live for a chance to see your questions answered.
June 13, 2011
05:50 PM EST
Ed. Note: Champions of Change is a weekly initiative to highlight Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping our country rise to meet the many challenges of the 21st century.
Watch the video on the week's Champions of Change here.
Last week, we gathered fourteen inspirational citizens to hear about their tireless efforts to renew and strengthen their communities through service and innovation. We met in New Orleans, the host city for the 2011 National Conference on Volunteering and Service, an annual convening of over 4,000 people working to make a difference in the lives of others. President Barack Obama has called New Orleans a “symbol of resilience and community”—and what better place to highlight these Champions of Change than the Crescent City and the living laboratory for social innovation and civic participation that it has become.
Each of this week’s Champions exemplifies our Administration’s firm belief that the best ideas really do come from outside of Washington—from local communities across the country where, everyday, individuals are taking on our most pressing social challenges and developing solutions that work. From a twelve-year old environmental activist to established and highly regarded non-profit leaders, these Champions are making an extraordinary impact in communities, in schools, and in the workplace. They are building homes, creating opportunities for young people, veterans, and immigrants, and helping disaster victims rebuild their lives. Through their actions, they demonstrate that citizen leadership is critical to “winning the future.” They are redefining civic participation in the 21st century.
Our Administration is investing in these community solutions. Many of the Champions of Change are recipients of Social Innovation Fund grants—YouthBuild USA, the Delta Workforce Funding Collaborative, and iMentor—and we are so excited by the work that they are doing on the ground. Others are partnering with national service programs like VISTA and AmeriCorps, and delivering critical services to help communities recover and rebuild from disasters and to support the reintegration of veterans in our society—Equal Justice Works, Alabama State Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, and the Washington Commission for National and Community Service.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the St. Bernard Project. This New Orleans non-profit has drawn volunteers from across the country to rebuild hundreds of homes throughout St. Bernard Parish and the Lower Ninth Ward. It’s been quite an extraordinary example of “shared responsibility” and the possibilities that can come from citizens pulling together around a common goal. The President once noted that he saw in the St. Bernard Project “the symbol that this city has become.” And, indeed, the work of each of these Champions has such resonance.
Please visit the Champions of Change website to learn more about these individuals and their work.
We hope these Champions and their causes will inspire and energize you to make a difference in your own communities, and, by doing so, to win the future.
Marta Urquilla is the Senior Policy Advisor to the White House Domestic Policy Council’s Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation.
Macon PhillipsJune 13, 2011
02:50 PM EST
As the President points out in this video, our government doesn’t need a website dedicated to foresters who play the fiddle. We also don’t need multiple sites dealing with invasive plants (here and here). And I‘m pretty sure the website dedicated to the Centennial of Flight can come down... particularly since the Centennial was in 2003.
As President Obama has said, we can’t win the future with a government of the past. How our government uses the internet to communicate and deliver services is an obvious and critical part of this modernization effort.
Today, there are nearly 2,000 top-level federal .gov domains (this means a top-level url, [WEBSITENAME].gov, that links to a distinct website). This includes WhiteHouse.gov, as well as others like USDA.gov, USASpending.gov, NOAA.gov and USA.gov. Under many of these domains are smaller sub-sites and microsites resulting in an estimated 24,000 websites of varying purpose, design, navigation, usability, and accessibility.
While many government websites each deliver value to the taxpayer through easy-to-use services and information, an overall online landscape of literally thousands of websites – each focusing on a specific topic or organization – can create confusion and inefficiency.
Katelyn SabochikJune 13, 2011
01:44 PM EST
Today, Vice President Joe Biden sent the email below to the White House email list announcing the new Campaign to Cut Waste - an effort to root out wasteful spending at every agency and department in the Federal Government.
If you didn't get the email, be sure to sign up for the White House email list.
Did you know that the government spends millions to maintain buildings that have sat vacant for years? Or that your tax dollars pay to needlessly ship copies of the Federal Register to thousands of government offices across the country even though the same information is available online?
And I bet you didn't know that your tax dollars pay for a website dedicated to the Desert Tortoise. I'm sure it's a wonderful species, but we can't afford to have a standalone site devoted to every member of the animal kingdom. It's just one of hundreds of government websites that should be consolidated or eliminated.
This kind of waste is just unacceptable. Particularly at a time when we’re facing tough decisions about reducing our deficit, it's a no-brainer to stop spending taxpayer dollars on things that benefit nobody.
That’s why President Obama asked me to head up the Campaign to Cut Waste—a new effort to root out wasteful spending at every agency and department in the Federal Government.
Like millions of American families, the Federal Government has to take a hard look at spending and live within its means. Most of these cuts we’re going to make are small. They won’t close our deficit or solve all of our fiscal problems. However, no amount of waste is acceptable, and these cuts will add up over time. This year alone we’ve found $33 billion in savings, but we know there’s a lot more work to be done.
When we passed the Recovery Act back in 2009, President Obama insisted that we use that program to set a new standard in government transparency and accountability. And he appointed me as “Sheriff Joe” to make sure the job gets done.
Now, there were a lot of naysayers back then who said that there was no way we could implement the Recovery Act without massive waste, fraud and abuse.
You know what? They were wrong. Thanks to our diligence (and some help from advanced computer models and sophisticated data analysis), the Recovery Act has had an unprecedentedly low level of fraud, with less than 0.6% of all awards experiencing any waste or abuse.
There’s absolutely no reason why we can’t apply these same principles and techniques to all government spending.
And that’s exactly what I intend to do with the help of a new Government Accountability and Transparency Board, a group composed of independent inspectors general and high-level agency officials who will help me root out waste, fraud and abuse across the government. Helping me ensure that your tax dollars are being spent on things that matter, like investments in education, innovation and improving our infrastructure.
So, folks, we’re changing the way your government does business (and spends your hard-earned tax dollars), and I think you’re going to like the results.
Vice President Joe Biden
P.S. If you’re interested in keeping up with our progress in hunting down wasteful spending, you can sign up for regular email updates.
June 13, 2011
09:57 AM EST
Earlier this year, President Obama made clear in his State of the Union address that his focus is on winning the future – getting our economy going after the worst recession since the Great Depression, while laying the foundation for long-term economic growth and job creation.
Some might wonder how an international development agency like the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) fits into this vision. America has always been a generous nation, and our moral leadership is reflected in MCC’s goal of reducing poverty through economic growth in developing countries. But MCC’s investments not only benefit poor people overseas, they are critically important to our future prosperity here at home.
June 13, 2011
09:37 AM EST
Today, President Obama will travel to Durham, NC to meet with the Jobs and Competitiveness Council at the corporate and U.S. manufacturing headquarters of Cree, a leading manufacturer of energy efficient LED lighting. The President will tour Cree’s manufacturing facilities, deliver remarks and meet with the Jobs Council to discuss initiatives and policies to spur economic growth, promote job creation and accelerate hiring across the nation.
The President’s Jobs and Competitiveness Council, led by GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt, is a group of business leaders from around the country that was created to provide non-partisan advice to the President on ways to strengthen the economy and ensure the competitiveness of the United States.
Since its creation three months ago, the Jobs Council has worked on recommendations to address short-term, medium-term and long-term economic growth and job creation with a focus on high-growth sectors, areas of concentrated unemployment, and immediate impact opportunities, including manufacturing, construction, clean energy, healthcare, and tourism.
The Jobs Council held their first meeting at the White House on February 24th, focusing on finding new ways to promote growth, encourage hiring, to educate and train our workers to compete globally, and attract the best jobs and businesses to the United States.
Today, the Jobs Council will present their ideas to the President.
You can watch the President’s meeting with the Jobs and Competitiveness Council live on www.WhiteHouse.gov/Live at 11:40 AM EDT.
Kori SchulmanJune 13, 2011
09:21 AM EST
Ed. Note: At 11:00 AM, the Vice President will make an announcement regarding the Administration’s ongoing effort to make government more accountable to the American people. Watch the event live at www.whitehouse.gov/live.
In a video message, President Obama and Vice President Biden launched the Campaign to Cut Waste today, which will hunt down and eliminate misspent tax dollars in every agency and department across the federal government. “Targeting waste and making government more efficient have been a priority for my administration since day one. But as we work to tackle the budget deficit, we need to step up our game,” said the President in the video, “No amount of waste is acceptable – not when it’s your money; not at a time when so many families are already cutting back.”
Nikki SuttonJune 11, 2011
05:00 AM EST
June 10, 2011
05:15 PM EST
Yesterday, the First Lady was the keynote speaker at the 40th anniversary gala for the National Partnership for Women and Families, where she spoke about the Administration’s commitment to women and children, and the Partnership’s many accomplishments.
First Lady Michelle Obama speaks at the 40th anniversary of the National Partnership for Women & Families at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C., June 9, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
June 10, 2011
04:23 PM EST
When First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden launched their initiative, Joining Forces, to support our nation’s military families, American citizens, communities, and businesses answered the call. Recently, Walmart and NASCAR came together to create a public service announcement campaign to recognize the sacrifices and challenges that military families face across the United States.
These PSAs, featuring some of NASCAR’s best known drivers, will be shown in hundreds of Walmart locations around the country. Check out the video with NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon and First Lady Michelle Obama:
Erin LindsayJune 10, 2011
11:15 AM EST
Over the past few months, we’ve been working to improve the White House’s social media presence to provide our Facebook fans and Twitter followers with timely, relevant and interesting updates about what’s happening at the White House and around the Administration.
We’ve recently conducted surveys of the White House’s Facebook fans and Twitter followers asking for their feedback on our online programs. Between the two surveys, we received thousands of responses and thought we’d share some of the results.
This wasn’t a scientific survey. The results reflect the opinions of those who took the time to respond to our posts and tweets and to complete the survey, and this kind of feedback is really helpful. We’ll be using this information to help improve and guide the efforts of our online program in the upcoming weeks and months.
Here are a few interesting things we’ve learned:
50% of Facebook survey respondents were over the age of 50, with another 35% between 35 and 49. Our Twitter audience is younger, with only 32% of respondents over the age of 50. A combined 62% are over the age of 35.
62% reported visiting our Facebook page at least once a week. However, 93% say they read tweets from us at least once a week.
A much larger percentage of our Twitter survey respondents are active on Facebook (80% of Twitter followers use Facebook weekly) than our Facebook respondents reported being active on Twitter (30% of Facebook fans use Twitter weekly).
Over 50% of respondents from both surveys reported never using Flickr, LinkedIn and social bookmarking sites (such as Digg, Reddit, and Delicious).
64% said that the frequency of our Facebook posts is “About Right,” with 31% wanting more, and only 5% saying that it’s “Too Much.”
61% of the Twitter survey respondents report that the frequency of posting is “About Right,” with an additional 35% saying it’s “Not Enough,” and only 4% saying that it’s “Too Much.”
Over 56% share White House Facebook posts on a monthly basis and 78% have shared at least once. However, only 35% of responders report retweeting @Whitehouse on at least a monthly basis, with only 58% having retweeted us at least once.
- The top requested content includes news-oriented posts (Breaking News, the latest news from the Administration), interactive posts (ways to engage with Administration officials, announcement of live streams, quotes from major speeches as they happen) and the Photo of the Day.
Most people are happy with the White House Facebook page and Twitter feed, but we received numerous useful suggestions.
- 50% of Facebook survey respondents were over the age of 50, with another 35% between 35 and 49. Our Twitter audience is younger, with only 32% of respondents over the age of 50. A combined 62% are over the age of 35.
Amy DudleyJune 10, 2011
09:33 AM EST
On Friday, June 3rd, His Holiness Benedict XVI received Vice President Joe Biden at the Vatican.
Kori SchulmanJune 10, 2011
12:03 AM EST
This week, President Obama traveled to a Chrysler plant in Toledo, Ohio, to congratulate workers on the turnaround they helped bring about at Chrysler and the impact that saving the company had on the community. The President also announced new initiatives that will improve our manufacturing workforce, and welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House for an Official Visit. That's June 3rd to June 9th, or "Way to Get Our Money Back."
Watch West Wing Week here.
Find out more about the topics covered in this West Wing Week:
Friday, June 3rd, 2011
- President Obama at Toledo Chrysler Plant: “I Placed My Bet on You”
- Infographic: The Resurgence of the American Automotive Industry
- Weekly Address: Growing Manufacturing with the Auto Industry Turnaround
Monday, June 6th, 2011
Tuesday, June 7th, 2011
- President Obama on the Germany Official Visit: "A Partnership Between Our Peoples"
- Inside the White House Kitchen: Preparing the State Dinner for Germany
- Ambassador Capricia Penavic Marshall on Official Visit of Germany
Wednesday, June 8th, 2011
Stephanie ValenciaJune 09, 2011
06:56 PM EST
In the evening of June 2, The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) hosted more than 300 people at its 25th anniversary celebration. ICIRR is a state-wide coalition of 138 organizations dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social, and political life of our diverse society. Director Mayorkas was honored with ICIRR’s Golden Door Award for his leadership of USCIS in its efforts to ensure that United States citizenship remains a valued and accessible benefit to all who are eligible. ICIRR singled out the Obama Administration’s decision in 2010 to keep the naturalization fee flat despite required cost-based increases in other immigration benefit categories. This was ICIRR’s inauguration of its Golden Door Award.
Earlier in the day, as part of the Obama Administration’s initiative to elevate the debate around immigration reform, Director Mayorkas joined Chicago area business leaders to discuss the need and advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. The roundtable discussion drew leaders from all sectors of the community, including the Chamber of Commerce, the Illinois Restaurant Association, and representatives from financial services, building development, non-profits, and the clergy. The roundtable’s participants shared with Director Mayorkas the need for comprehensive immigration reform, ideas for further engagement and mobilization, and the Chicago community’s plans to promote the needed reforms.
On May 10th, President Obama issued a call to action to fix our broken immigration system so that it works for our 21st economic and national security needs. And over the past three weeks, just like the roundtable Director Mayorkas had in Chicago, we’ve had hundreds of Americans in all parts of the country and all walks of life participate in conversations about realistic solutions to fixing our broken immigration system. Click here to read a blog post sampling of how everyday Americans are elevating the debate around fixing our broken immigration system and add your voice to the conversation by hosting a roundtable in your community by visiting www.whitehouse.gov/immigrationaction.
Stephanie ValenciaJune 09, 2011
06:43 PM EST
Director Mayorkas joined Chicago area business leaders As I travel across the country to meet with various higher education organizations, I have also had the opportunity to meet with Latino community leaders to share with them the Administration’s initiatives and to hear about their concerns and accomplishments. I have been struck by their dedication to their communities, their commitment to our country, and their determination to provide a better future for their children. The President’s 2020 education goal is deeply resonant with them and with the communities that they serve.
In a suburb of San Diego, Gary and Kathleen Acosta graciously opened their home to me and about a dozen colleagues and friends from the real estate industry, the arts, and academia so I could share with them the President’s agenda for the Hispanic community. Gary is an officer of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, and through his leadership, that organization has embraced improving the educational level of the Latino community as one of its goals. The group was keenly interested in what the Department of Education is doing to improve teacher effectiveness. Experiences with the occasional teacher who is a poor performer but is allowed to continue to shortchange students was a particular concern of several of Gary’s guests who have school-age children.
In Miami, White House Initiative Director Juan Sepulveda, Deputy Director Jose Rico, and Miami-Dade College president Eduardo Padrón (mi tocayo, as he always says) put together an all-star cast of the leading Latino figures in business and government. Miami is a vibrant community that has been transformed by the Cuban-American community into the U.S. gateway to Latin America, and the individuals assembled at Miami-Dade are the movers and shakers that are making it happen. Again, I was struck by the enthusiasm, optimism, entrepreneurialism, and dedication of these admirable men and women. A particular concern of this group was the improvement of the link between postsecondary education and the business community, so that career-oriented programs can be nimbly developed in response to the emerging jobs of the 21st century economy.
Finally, in Chicago I met with nearly twenty community leaders that were convened by Juan Salgado, the head of the Instituto del Progreso Latino. This community-based organization provides a wide range of services to the low-income Latino community in the South Side of Chicago, centered around their charter school. They take a holistic approach, assisting not only the students, but their parents, with career services, financial advice, as well as education for the whole family. This comprehensive approach dramatically improves persistence, retention, and graduation. Once again, their approach is optimistic and entrepreneurial: concerned with education as the critical link to the future prosperity of those served, I spoke with the staff and the clients served at Instituto with a sense of pride about what this Administration is doing to promote that very aim.
Throughout all of these interactions, I sensed an energy, harmony, and resounding sense of community as I spoke with Latino leaders from all three of these cities, and it fills me with optimism about the future of the Latino community in the United States. To rebuild our economy and put a down payment on the future of all Americans, we need a more educated workforce, which will require the efforts of every community, especially Latinos. Graduating from college is part of the path to a better job, a higher income and a more secure future for Latinos and all Americans in today’s global society and 21st century economy. It is clear, through my travels and through meeting so many dedicated Latino leaders, that in our community the American Dream is alive and well and that the Latino community is at the forefront of helping our country Win the Future.