Weekly Wrap Up: “Every kid in this country can make it”

Promise Zones: The President announced on Thursday the first five “Promise Zone” locations, an initiative to partners with local communities and businesses to create jobs, expand access to educational opportunities and spur economic mobility.

President Obama was joined in the East Room by students from Harlem Children’s Zone, an educational undertaking that inspired the Promise Zones, where he spoke about the importance of making sure a child’s path isn’t determined by their zip code, but rather by their hard work and determination. In his speech, the President mentioned how he wasn’t so different from one of the students who has benefitted from the Harlem Children’s Zone.

“If you want to know why I care about this stuff so much, it's because I'm not that different from Roger,” President Obama said.

There was a period of time in my life where I was goofing off. I was raised by a single mom. I didn’t know my dad. The only difference between me and Roger was my environment was more forgiving than his. That’s the only difference. If I screwed up, the consequences weren't quite as great. So if Roger can make it, and if I can make it, if Kiara can make it, every kid in this country can make it. 

The Promise Zones, located in San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, are the first of 20 being launched over the next three years. You can read his full remarks here.

Extending Emergency Unemployment Insurance: On Tuesday, President Obama called on Congress to extend emergency unemployment insurance. Two weeks ago, Congress failed to renew the vital lifeline that temporarily extends insurance for 1.3 million Americans who are currently looking for work. “Now, I've heard the argument that says extending unemployment insurance will somehow hurt the unemployed because it zaps their motivation to get a new job,” the President said.

I really want to go at this for a second. That really sells the American people short...I can't name a time where I met an American who would rather have an unemployment check than the pride of having a job. The long-term unemployed are not lazy. They're not lacking in motivation. They're coping with the aftermath of the worst economic crisis in generations.

The President noted that this insurance is not an abstraction but rather a way to provide a bit of extra security, so that losing your job doesn’t mean you lose everything you’ve worked to build. Make sure to check out his full remarks.

Affordable Care Act: This week, a new report showed that the growth of health care spending is continuing to slow, and Dr. Biden shared her personal connection to the fight against breast cancer to help highlight a new announcement about no-cost chemoprevention medication for women at high risk of the disease. 

Since January 1, Americans across the country who signed up for health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplaces have new access to quality and affordable health coverage. Read one man’s story as well as stories from 10 others who have received coverage and what it means to them. 

We the Geeks: It was a big week for “We the Geeks,” which hosted two Google+ hangouts, one on the future of computing and the other on the polar vortex. Scientists and tech experts answered your pressing questions on computing advancements and climate change. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out this video that explains the polar vortex in two minutes and why climate change means more extreme weather is likely in the future. Want to know about future “We the Geeks” hangouts? Make sure to sign up for email updates here.

Strengthening our Nation’s Energy Infrastructure: On Thursday, the President signed a memorandum that established the first federal government Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) process. Throughout the next four years, the QER will provide a review of federal energy policies and make sure they are keeping up with the changing energy landscape.

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