March 15, 2012
11:30 AM EDT
When you think of great American innovators, you think of names like Edison, Ford, Bell and Jobs. But the world’s next great technological breakthrough might be coming to life at this very moment in the basement of an unknown visionary somewhere in America. According to a recent article in the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, that is exactly how Cornerstone Research Group (CRG) got started in 1997. With the help of NASA and a unique Federal initiative – the Small Business Innovation Research program (SBIR) -- CRG, which specializes in advanced materials, system engineering and manufacturing technologies, has grown from one man’s basement dream to a company with more than 60 employees, three spin-off subsidiaries and annual revenues of more than $10 million.
As President Obama’s Strategy for American Innovation says: “We can create the jobs and industries of the future by doing what America does best – investing in the creativity and imagination of our people.” That is exactly what SBIR does. Established in 1982 and administered by the Small Business Administration, SBIR’s mission is to support scientific excellence and technological innovation through the investment of Federal research funds in critical American priorities to build a strong national economy. Each year, NASA and the 10 other Federal agencies with extramural research and development (R & D) budgets that exceed $100 million are required to allocate 2.5% of their R&D budgets to small businesses. Since its inception, the SBIR program has awarded more than $26.9 billion. And according to the Dayton Daily News, from 2007 to 2010, nearly $93 million in federal SBIR funds went to 55 Dayton-area companies, including CRG.
Ambassador Ron KirkMarch 15, 2012
10:37 AM EDT
As of March 15, 2012, the U.S.-Korea trade agreement – the most commercially significant U.S. trade agreement in nearly two decades -- is now in effect. The opportunities this agreement offers to American manufacturers, service providers, farmers, ranchers, and workers are key components of President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double American exports by the end of 2014 and support additional American jobs.
President Obama insisted that we get this agreement right, working with Congress, stakeholders, and our Korean government counterparts to address outstanding issues and then seal the deal. Now, greater export opportunities will make American businesses of all sizes more competitive in the global economy, and allow them to support more jobs for Americans in sectors ranging from automobile manufacturing to delivery services to agriculture of all kinds. Tariff cuts will increase exports of American goods alone by $10-11 billion, supporting an estimated 70,000 jobs across the country. Export opportunities will also grow as the agreement opens Korea’s $580 billion services market, streamlines customs procedures, reduces red tape, and better protects American intellectual property rights.
March 15, 2012
10:30 AM EDT
On a daily basis, the employees of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) look into the eyes of disaster survivors and convey a calm strength and compassion to assist them on the road to recovery from disasters. Similarly conveying strength and resolve to make our nation stronger are the thousands of Americans who are part of AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).
As a way to capitalize on the strength and compassion, on March 13, the Obama Administration opened a new chapter in the history of national service with the launch of FEMA Corps: AmeriCorps in Action, an innovative cost-saving partnership to strengthen our nation’s disaster response capabilities, while also expanding career opportunities for young people.
This partnership between FEMA and CNCS goes to the heart of the mission for both of these agencies. Through dedicated community service, young Americans will help communities respond to and recover from disasters by assisting survivors, setting up shelters, assessing damage, coordinating volunteers, and many other activities. These efforts have a huge impact on the lives of families and entire communities trying to recover from the tragedy of a natural disaster.
Ten years ago, after losing friends in the 9/11 attacks, Tracey Connelly joined AmeriCorps as a way give back to her community. After two years of service she found her calling in emergency management. Today she works for the city of Seattle, helping underserved communities prepare for natural disasters.
Colleen CurtisMarch 14, 2012
07:26 PM EDT
Guests at tonight's State Dinner honoring David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and his wife Samantha, will enjoy a meal that represents the best of American hospitality and includes playful references to classic British traditions. First Lady Michelle Obama and White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford have put together a menu that features produce harvested yesterday from the White House's Kitchen Garden, including baby lettuces, spring onions and fresh herbs. The dinner will be served in a tent on the White House's South Lawn.
The first course, Crisped Halibut with Potato Crust, will be served on a bed of braised baby kale fresh from the White House garden. The salad features spring garden lettuces with shallot dressing and includes a variety of greens, which are also from the Kitchen Garden.
Comerford says the main course, Bison Wellington, is a "great marriage of the two countries" and features a uniquely American protein prepared in a quintessentially British style. For dessert, White House pastry chef William Yosses and his team have prepared a lemon sponge pudding in the British style, which they are serving with Newtown Pippin Apples, a variety that was grown by some of our founding fathers, and was even sent as a gift to Queen Victoria in 1838. You can go behind the scenes with the White House's kitchen team (and a group of chefs from our military branches who were on hand to help with the preparations) in this video:
March 14, 2012
06:23 PM EDT
After the morning's State Arrival ceremony and a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office, President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron took advantage of a beautiful spring day to hold a joint press conference in the White House Rose Garden.
The two leaders answered questions about the global economy, Iran's nuclear program, and the war in Afghanistan. They also touched on a potential cross-cultural sports exchange -- offering the President an introduction to cricket in exchange for the Prime Minister's crash course in bracketology.
Both men emphasized the open communiation and strong relationship between the two countries, with President Obama saying:
"The alliance between our countries is a foundation -- not only for the security and prosperity of our two nations, but for international peace and security as well. David shares my belief that, in a time of rapid change, the leadership of the United States and the United Kingdom is more important than ever. ...The future we seek is only possible if the rights and responsibilities of nations and people are upheld. And that’s a cause that we advanced today."
Prime Minister Cameron echoed these sentiments:
"There are some countries whose alliance is a matter of convenience, but ours is a matter of conviction. Two states... united for freedom and enterprise; working together, day in, day out, to defend those values and advance our shared interests." Later emphasizing that: "the relationship between Britain and America is the strongest that it has ever been. And I believe that’s because we’re working together as closely as at any point in our history. And together, I’m confident that we can help secure the future of our nations and the world for generations to come."
Want to hear how the two answered the questions from reporters? You can jump to the President and Prime Minister's responses by clicking on the links below:
March 14, 2012
04:17 PM EDT
My journey to this moment began almost twenty years ago. I saw a flier in the Black Student Center at Milwaukee Area Technical College promising to make me one of tomorrow’s leaders through an AmeriCorps program, Public Allies. Me? I was a teenage mother stringing together welfare, food stamps, student loans, work-study, and a child-care subsidy. If I failed, I knew, at least, I had tried. Despite these overwhelming challenges, here I am today: an AmeriCorps alumna and Special Assistant to the President of the United States.
The AmeriCorps program offered me hope in a time of economic and personal struggle. It promised to prepare me for leadership through a full-time nonprofit apprenticeship and rigorous leadership training. The program also provided life support, including much needed medical insurance, child care assistance, a tuition stipend, and a livable wage. Most importantly, the program accepted me based on my future potential, not on my life situation at that time. I had not graduated from college. I was not top of my class in high school. I had not played sports, volunteered, or done any “resume-building” extracurricular activities. All I had, and all I needed, was an inclination and a desire to lead through service.
During my time in AmeriCorps, I worked at the Youth Leadership Academy, a support program for African-American boys in grades three through eight. These boys were also not model students. They often had disciplinary problems at home and school. But, they were accepted to the Academy based on their potential to lead. Using a systematic approach, the program would develop their discipline, teamwork, and academic achievement to build self-esteem and lead to more constructive behavior, better grades, and long-term success. These were my first mentees. It was through this experience that I learned to appreciate potential, despite a person’s present circumstance.
Matt ComptonMarch 14, 2012
12:42 PM EDT
In a ceremony steeped in tradition, President Obama -- together with the First Lady, the Vice President and Dr. Biden -- welcomed Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, Samantha, to the White House on behalf of the American people.
The two leaders reviewed the troops assembled as an honor guard for the occasion, acknowledged a few bits of slang each had picked up from the other, and talked about "the rock-solid alliance" between the United States and the United Kingdom.
The President said:
We stand together and we work together and we bleed together and we build together, in good times and in bad, because when we do, our nations are more secure, our people are more prosperous, and the world is a safer and better and more just place. Our alliance is essential -- it is indispensable -- to the security and prosperity that we seek not only for our own citizens, but for people around the world.
That was a sentiment echoed by the Prime Minister:
The partnership between our countries, between our peoples, is the most powerful partnership for progress that the world has ever seen. That is why whenever an American President and a British Prime Minister get together, there is a serious and important agenda to work through. And today is no different. Afghanistan, Iran, the Arab Spring, the need for trade, for growth, for jobs in the world economy, the biggest issues in the world -- that is our agenda today.
Watch video from the ceremony here. And check in throughout the day for more about the official visit.
March 14, 2012
11:30 AM EDT
When Prime Minister Cameron meets President Obama in Washington today it will have been ten months since our two countries signed a new Partnership for Global Development. The partnership outlines specific areas where we are focusing our collective efforts, reaffirming our commitment to saving lives and improving human welfare around the world.
If you needed proof of how much more we can achieve by working together than acting alone, our response to the food crisis in the Horn of Africa demonstrates the transformative impact of our partnership.
Over the last ten months, USAID and the UK's Department for International Development's (DFID) leadership and decisive action in the region has helped avert an even larger catastrophe. As heads of our nations’ respective development agencies, we have both visited the Horn of Africa and seen for ourselves the scale of the crisis, which placed more than 13.3 million people in need of emergency assistance. That is roughly the combined population of London and Washington. (Watch this video of Rajiv Shah and Dr. Jill Biden's visit to the Horn of Africa last year)
While the drought was regional, the crisis only led to famine in southern Somalia, where a governance failure and lack of access obstructed international relief efforts. This underscores the importance of the recent London Conference on Somalia hosted by Prime Minister Cameron that brought together over 50 countries and international organizations to consider how best to support Somalia not only on development but on issues like piracy, the political process and security. DFID led a parallel set of discussions on preventing future humanitarian crises.
Thanks to the generosity of the British and American people, our nations led a significant humanitarian response that helped save hundreds of thousands of lives in Somalia alone, and reached millions of people across the region with food, health care, and water and sanitation services.
But we must do more than provide relief. We must help countries build resilience, so they are prepared for disasters before they hit. USAID’s Famine Early Warning System provided some of the first alerts of the impending crisis, giving us time to pre-position food and health supplies in advance. And many of our programs on the ground have allowed families and smallholder farmers to weather the crisis.
In Ethiopia, for example, farmers receive cash and food in exchange for work on community projects through the government-led Productive Safety Nets Program, which both the U.S. and the UK support. Because of this program, 7.5 million people were able to withstand the drought without seeking emergency aid.
Secretary Hilda SolisMarch 14, 2012
11:00 AM EDT
I think we can all remember our first job, and the sense of dignity and pride that came with that first paycheck.
Summer jobs help teach us about what’s possible, both in terms of careers to explore (and those we’d rather avoid) and also in terms of what we are truly capable of. Summer jobs also provide young people with the skills they need to be successful in the workplace, and inspire them to reach for more… I know mine did.
That’s why in January, President Obama announced the Summer Jobs+ initiative and called on businesses, non-profits and governments to come together to provide 250,000 employment opportunities for low-income and disconnected youth in the summer of 2012.
Across the country, employers big and small -- from Gap Inc., to Southwire, to the Boys & Girls Club of Green Bay -- are working with their communities to provide jobs, internships, mentoring opportunities or other life and work skills development for our young people.
As part of this effort, later this month the Department of Labor will launch the Summer Jobs+ Bank - a brand new online resource for young people to find jobs, internships, mentorship or training opportunities this summer.
Is your company or organization looking to hire young people? Does your organization have mentorship or training opportunities for youth? If so, we want YOU to be a part of the Summer Jobs+ Bank. Adding your opportunities to the Summer Jobs+ Bank is easy and will help you connect with youth in your area looking for opportunities this summer.
Whether you already post jobs on your company website, use a job board like Internships.com or Aftercollege.Com, or are looking to post summer opportunities online for the first time, there’s an easy way to get involved.
March 14, 2012
10:30 AM EDT
In May 2011, President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron announced a partnership between two of the world’s leading volunteer organizations, the Peace Corps and VSO. The partnership leverages the resources of both organizations to improve the lives of poor and marginalized people, and to promote the value of volunteering in global development.
Following the partnership announcement in May, I had the great privilege of signing the Peace Corps-VSO partnership agreement with VSO Chief Executive Marg Mayne at the United Nations headquarters in New York. This landmark event was organized by UN Volunteers as part of the Tenth Anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers and International Volunteer Day (Dec. 5).
We are proud that President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron recognize the contributions our volunteers make around the world with local communities. For more than fifty years, Peace Corps and VSO have been the leading U.S. and U.K. organizations fighting global poverty through volunteering. Collectively, we have more than 10,000 international volunteers working in 95 countries and a network of more than 250,000 former volunteers. Each organization works in complementary ways, providing opportunities to work together to enhance our effectiveness in transforming lives across the world.
Because of this innovative partnership, the Peace Corps and VSO are expanding collaboration in areas where both organizations work. Peace Corps and VSO are addressing urgent development challenges in education, health, HIV/AIDS, youth development,gender, climate change and citizen participation by sharing knowledge, resources, and training capabilities to further enhance each organization’s current programming and training. In Tanzania, for example, Peace Corps and VSO collaborate closely to improve the English capability of Tanzanian teachers, and share materials and resources to improve in-country training for volunteers. This video below shows Peace Corps and VSO volunteers working side by side on the Project for Improving English in Pemba, Tanzania.
Matt ComptonMarch 14, 2012
10:00 AM EDT
Yesterday, President Obama took some time to fill out his brackets for the 2012 NCAA men and women's basketball tournaments, and for the fourth time, ESPN was on hand to share his predictions with the country.
Last night, he even had the opportunity to watch bit of the early round action in person when he traveled to Dayton, Ohio with British Prime Minister David Cameron to watch Brigham Young University take on Iona and Western Kentucky play Mississippi Valley State.
The President has the North Carolina Tar Heels, the Kentucky Wildcats, the Ohio State Buckeyes, and the Mizzou Tigers in the Final Four.
His National Champion? The Tar Heels.
Download the full predictions here. And check back on Friday, when we’ll share the President’s pick for the women’s tournament.
Update: Check out President Obama's predictions for the 2012 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament here.
March 14, 2012
08:45 AM EDT
Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office released updated cost estimates for some parts of the Affordable Care Act. In this update, CBO projects that net spending on several parts of the health care law are about $50 billion less than it projected last year. That partly reflects CBO’s confirmation of a trend we’ve been following – slower growth in health insurance premiums. CBO said:
“By 2021, premiums are now estimated to be about 8 percent lower than CBO estimated in March 2011. That change reduces the estimated costs of the coverage provisions of the ACA.”
This suggests that taxpayers will save $50 billion more, on net, through 2021 and Americans will pay even less for private insurance than CBO previously projected – which is good news.
It is also important to be clear about what the CBO report does not say.
The CBO update does not provide new estimates of the entire cost of the Affordable Care Act. That’s because the new report looks at how much the government will spend on discrete elements of the new law, but not how much the government will save due to other parts of the law such as efforts to slow Medicare cost growth and reduce fraud.
Colleen CurtisMarch 14, 2012
08:00 AM EDT
This morning, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will welcome Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, Samantha Cameron, to the White House with a formal arrival ceremony at 9 am ET (watch it here) and a State Dinner to follow this evening. Visits from U.K. leaders are always a special occasion, and an opportunity to highlight the special relationship between our countries and the depth of the friendship between the American people and the people of the United Kingdom. This particular visit is also a testament to the strong personal bond that has developed between the Obamas and the Camerons.
To mark the occasion, and to celebrate our long-standing partnership, the White House Historical Association has gone through their archives and put together a fascinating look back at some of the other special visits British leaders have made to the White House since the end of WW2.
March 13, 2012
07:02 PM EDT
Ed. note: The Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation is commemorating AmeriCorps Week to celebrate the remarkable individuals who have served and their contributions to our country. This blog post introduces readers to Rhonda Ulmer, who works to educate parents so they can better help their students.
I began my AmeriCorps journey when I was recruited into the program by the Community Action Agency in Annapolis, MD. My first job was to create a mentoring system for families of Head Start students. The next year, I continued serving in the program by training others in mentoring as a regional coordinator, and I returned for a third year with AmeriCorps to lead the program as a state coordinator with Volunteer Maryland.
After my term ended, I began working at Johns Hopkins Health Care LLC, first as a Community Relations Coordinator and later as a Community Health Educator. But soon I would receive a call that would put me on another path. My children’s school, Van Bokkelen Elementary in Severn, MD, was in danger of a State takeover due to poor test performance and high student population turnover.
A Parent Helping Parents
Upon hearing about the school’s difficulties, I went to Rose Tasker, the Principal, and asked what I could do to help. She told me that challenges with parental involvement at the school were a major part of the problem. I found that not only were many of the children struggling, but that the parents were too. Many had a hard time supplying daily needs such as food, health care, and clothing for their families.
When I learned this, I took a bigger role with the school’s PTA and began developing a strategy to improve the involvement of other parents. In doing so, I took everything I learned from AmeriCorps: first you get a plan, and then you find the key players involved. Throughout the project, I drew from the experiences of my first year of AmeriCorps service.
Matt ComptonMarch 13, 2012
05:20 PM EDT
Outside the White House, the Union Jack is flying alongside the flags of the United States and the District of Columbia on street lamps down Pennsylvania Avenue -- in preparation for a visit from British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Tonight, President Obama and the Prime Minister will travel to Dayton, Ohio -- where they'll take in an NCAA tournament game together. Tomorrow, the White House will host the arrival ceremony for the official visit. Later that night, the President and First Lady Michelle Obama will welcome the Prime Minister and his wife, Samantha Cameron, at a state dinner. In between, the day will be packed with events and policy meetings.
The United States has long had a special relationship with the United Kingdom -- as historian David Reynolds details on the Prime Minister's website.
But nowhere is that today more evident than in Afghanistan.
Matt ComptonMarch 13, 2012
02:41 PM EDT
Two weeks ago, President Obama formed the Trade Enforcement Unit to investigate unfair economic practices by other countries.
But even as that organization comes online, the President is taking additional steps to ensure that American products are competing on a level playing field with the rest of the world.
That's why he made an announcement this morning in the White House Rose Garden:
We’re bringing a new trade case against China -- and we’re being joined by Japan and some of our European allies. This case involves something called rare earth materials, which are used by American manufacturers to make high-tech products like advanced batteries that power everything from hybrid cars to cell phones.
We want our companies building those products right here in America. But to do that, American manufacturers need to have access to rare earth materials -- which China supplies. Now, if China would simply let the market work on its own, we’d have no objections. But their policies currently are preventing that from happening. And they go against the very rules that China agreed to follow.
The reasoning behind this effort is simple: President Obama believes that it's too important for American manufacturers to be able to compete in these growing industries for the U.S. government to stand by and do nothing.
"We're going to make sure that this isn’t a country that’s just known for what we consume," the President said. "America needs to get back to doing what it's always done best -- a country that builds and sells products all over the world that are stamped with the proud words: 'Made in America.' "
Matt ComptonMarch 13, 2012
07:45 AM EDT
Later today, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate, and Robert Velasco, the acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, will announce a new partnership between FEMA and CNCS designed to strengthen the nation's ability to respond to and recover from disasters.
They'll be joined by Cecilia Muñoz, the Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, and Walter Maddox, the mayor of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
You can watch live right here at 11:00 am ET.
Matt ComptonMarch 12, 2012
05:53 PM EDT
As gas prices rise, oil companies just watch their profits increase. And yet, they're still subsidized by Congress to the tune of $4 billion a year.
That's about $7,610 every minute.
To learn more about why gas prices are on the rise and President Obama's strategy to take control of our energy future and avoid gas spike prices in the future, check out our new infographic.
Want to know more about President Obama’s blueprint for an America built on homegrown energy? Here’s everything you need to know.
March 12, 2012
05:02 PM EDT
National service is one of America’s most hallowed traditions. As Alexis De Tocqueville noted in 1835, we are a nation of joiners. Ours is a country where people take collective action for the good of all.
Since the early 1900s, government has created conditions that make it easier for people to join and give back. For example, President Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s that put people to work and contributed to “future national wealth.” President Kennedy called on young people to serve, domestically through VISTA and internationally through the Peace Corps. In 1994, President Clinton created AmeriCorps to bring together disparate national service opportunities and to scale our ability to strengthen communities through civic participation. Today, AmeriCorps is our nation’s most expansive service program.
Since its founding, more than 706,000 men and women have joined AmeriCorps and pledged to “get things done for America.” Across the nation, AmeriCorps service members have demonstrated commitment to strengthening our communities by joining programs such as Teach for America, City Year, Habitat for Humanity, Public Allies, and Youth Build. All of these are AmeriCorps initiatives. The selfless and caring citizens that join AmeriCorps confirm the adage that tomorrow can be better than today if we each extend a helping hand to our neighbors.
Kodiak StarrMarch 12, 2012
04:55 PM EDT
Here are the facts: The United States produced more than 2 billion barrels of crude oil in 2011. Domestic oil production has climbed every year since President Obama took office, and our dependence on foreign oil is at its lowest level since the 1990s. But even as we drill more, gas prices continue to rise.
If you want to know why President Obama says that pursuing an all-of-the-above strategy is only way to secure our energy future, check out our infographic that explains the President's plan and its relationship to gas prices.
A unique view of 2012