Office of Public Engagement

Celebrating a Year of Champions of Change – President Obama Meets with 12 Champions Who Are Making a Difference in Their Communities

President Obama Speaks with Champions of Change Alumni

President Barack Obama meets with Champions of Change alumni in the Map Room of the White House, April 26, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

A little over a year ago, the White House created the Champions of Change program to recognize ordinary Americans across the country who are doing extraordinary work in their communities. During the last year we have held more than 40 Champions of Change events, honoring over 500 Champions from all 50 states.

These are people who are working to end youth and domestic violence, to green our cities, and to renew and strengthen communities through service and innovation. They are working to promote immigrant integration, to provide housing counseling, and to establish broadband access in rural areas of the country. As President Obama said, “By making their communities better places to live, our Champions are helping to ensure that our country’s best days lie ahead.”

To celebrate the program’s one-year anniversary, yesterday President Obama met with a handful of Champions of Change. He learned about the work they are doing in their communities and asked what being a Champion of Change means to them.

Each one of them had a unique answer. Andrew Yang, who founded a non-profit fellowship program that sends top college graduates to start-up companies, met people through the Champions program that helped him grow his organization. Ted Lasser, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, said being recognized as a Champion showed him that he had chosen the right path in life. And Myrdin Thompson, a “Parents on Education” Champion, told the President how proud her kids were to learn that he thought their mother was “awesome.”

As the President has often said, change doesn’t happen from the top down and it doesn’t always come from Washington. It happens from the bottom up, and it is driven by people like the 12 remarkable individuals who came to the White House yesterday.

I’m already excited to meet the next group of Champions.

To learn more about the Champions of Change program, visit www.whitehouse.gov/champions.

Jon Carson is the Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

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