The White House Blog: The First Lady

  • West Wing Week 07/04/14 or, “Cynicism is a Choice… Hope is a Better Choice”

    This week, the President wrapped up a trip to Minneapolis, nominated a new VA Secretary, and caught some World Cup fever. 


  • Experience the White House Kitchen Garden!

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the Let's Move blog. See the original post here.

    In keeping with the President and First Lady's commitment to open the People's House to as many people as possible, tours of the White House Kitchen Garden are back and now available to community organizations as well as school groups with an interest in gardening and healthy eating. Come smell the beautiful, brightly colored fruits and vegetables in the Kitchen Garden, including herbs grown from Thomas Jefferson's garden at Monticello; see the vibrant flowers in the Pollinator Garden; and hear the bees buzzing around the White House Beehive.

    Nestled on the White House South Lawn, the Kitchen Garden is home to different fruits, vegetables, and herbs each growing season. The First Lady planted the White House Kitchen Garden in 2009 to initiate a national conversation around the health and wellbeing of our nation and to serve as an inspiration for schools and community groups across the country to plant gardens of their own. Now nearly five years later, the Kitchen Garden is as healthy as ever and is an example of just how easy it is to plant a garden in your backyard, school, or community space.

    So if you haven’t already started your own garden, click here to check out the Let’s Move! Gardening Guide, which has all the information you need to get planting!


  • First Lady Michelle Obama to DC-CAP Graduates: "Despite It All, You Chose to Succeed"

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks during DC College Access Program graduation celebration

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks during the DC College Access Program graduation celebration of former DC-CAP students who received college degrees this spring, in Washington D.C., June 19, 2014. DC-CAP is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping D.C. high school students prepare for, enroll in, and graduate from college. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    Rhia Hardman, whose father and stepmother were both crack addicts, had to survive sometimes as a child without water or electricity. And Rashema Melson, whose family has been homeless for years, experienced times when she didn't have clean clothes to wear to school.

    But today, Rhia is a graduate with honors from Virginia State University. And Rashema, who just graduated as the valedictorian of her class, is attending Georgetown University this fall on a full scholarship.

    And as the First Lady said at last night's DC College Access Program graduation celebration, Rhia and Rashema aren't the only ones with similar stories of struggle and success.

    "So many of you have stories just like these," Mrs. Obama told the graduates. "Stories of families who couldn’t support you, of communities where you weren’t safe, schools that maybe didn’t always live up to your promise. But ultimately, despite it all, you chose to succeed."


  • Recognizing the Importance of Summer Learning Day

    Ed. note: This is posted on the U.S. Department of Education's blog. See the original post here.

    Today we join hundreds of communities and programs across the country in celebrating National Summer Learning Day, a recognized national advocacy day to spread awareness about the importance of summer learning to our nation’s youth—specifically, in helping close the achievement gap and supporting healthy development.

    Summer learning is everywhere; it’s happening in cities and towns all across the country. Today in Fayetteville, NC, the local university is opening its doors to local youth to learn about its College Readiness Summer Institute and how they can participate. In Louisville, KY, Mayor Greg Fischer joined other prominent local figures to kick off Every 1 Learns, a citywide summer learning effort designed to provide access to academic support and meaningful work experience for Louisville youth.

    Find more summer learning opportunities across the country on our interactive Summer Learning Day Map.

    Last month, I blogged on HomeRoom about how families can keep their teens learning and preparing for college and careers this summer. A few weeks later, First Lady Michelle Obama joined students in San Antonio to highlight her college access initiative Reach Higher. She is supporting President Obama’s “North Star” goal of returning the U.S. to being the leader in college graduates by 2020. One of the core solutions in achieving that goal is summer learning. The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) is excited to partner with the First Lady in helping teens “Reach Higher” all summer long and beyond.

    Today it is a true honor to share the stage with the First Lady at the U.S. Department of Education to celebrate National Summer Learning Day. Bringing together high school students and education leaders from across the country, our event highlights the critical role summer learning plays in preparing young people for successful college entry and completion.

    The First Lady and other guests will see and hear from young people about the incredible things they learned last summer, like how to write a personal statement, teach and mentor younger youth, dance, cook healthy meals, apply for financial aid, and even dissect a sheep brain.

    The 100 youth joining us today have the opportunity of a lifetime to participate in exemplary programs, and we hope to extend that opportunity to all young people who need and want that experience. Across the country, we’re beginning to see school districts partner with institutions of higher education and other nonprofits to offer rigorous coursework, counseling, and meaningful work experience for young people in the summer, and it’s changing lives.

    There’s great reason to believe that summer learning opportunities can increase college access and completion among first generation college students. We’re thrilled that Mrs. Obama has taken notice of the importance of summer learning, and we’re honored to work with her on such an important issue for our nation’s youth.

    Sarah Pitcock is CEO of the National Summer Learning Association.


  • The First Lady Welcomes 50 New Americans at the National Archives

    Watch on YouTube

    This morning, First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed 50 new Americans in a naturalization ceremony at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

    "This is an exciting day," the First Lady said in her remarks, "and it's just wonderful that I can be among the first to congratulate you on becoming American citizens."

    Only a few feet from where she spoke was the Declaration of Independence -- and as she noted, none of the 56 Founders who signed the Declaration were born American, "they became American."


  • You're Invited: White House Summit on Working Families

    We're excited to announce our next White House Social event -- an opportunity for our followers on Twitter and Instagram to attend the White House Summit on Working Families.

    On Monday, June 23, 2014, this day-long event will feature remarks by the President, the First Lady, the Vice President, and Dr. Jill Biden, as they participate in a national conversation about how we can create 21st-century workplaces that work for all Americans.

    Interested? Sign up for your chance to join other White House social media followers for the White House Summit on Working Families at WhiteHouse.gov/WH-Social-Working-Families. After you sign up, spread the word and tell your friends about the event by using the hashtag #WHSocial.

    Working Families Summit Social Invite


  • West Wing Week 06/13/14 or, "I Am Hip to All These Things"

    This week, the President commemorated the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, hosted his first-ever Tumblr Q&A, and spoke to graduates of Worcester Technical High School.

    Watch on YouTube


  • In Case You Missed It: #LunchWithFLOTUS Twitter Q&A on Healthy School Lunches

    First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a Twitter chat to discuss school nutrition and the White House Kitchen Garden

    First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a Twitter chat to discuss school nutrition and the White House Kitchen Garden, in the First Lady's Office in the East Wing of the White House, June 12, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

    Millions of kids across America are eating healthier school meals because of new nutrition standards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

    Today at 2:30 p.m. ET, the First Lady held a Twitter Q&A to help raise awareness around the importance of our kids eating healthy and getting the nutrition they need.

    Check out the First Lady’s answers to your questions on school nutrition here or at Storify.gov/FLOTUS, and learn more about the First Lady's initiative to encourage healthy eating at Letsmove.gov/eat-healthy.


  • #LunchWithFLOTUS: The First Lady's Twitter Q&A on Healthy School Lunches

    Today, millions of kids across America are eating better school meals because of healthier lunch standards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Thanks to the hard work of school chefs and food service workers around the country, 90 percent of our schools are now meeting modern nutrition standards -- and the USDA is working to provide greater flexibility and more assistance to help the remaining schools catch up.

    As part of her Let's Move! initiative, First Lady Michelle Obama has helped raise awareness around the importance of our kids eating healthy and getting the nutrition they need -- and now she's taking to Twitter to answer your questions.

    Tomorrow, Thursday, June 12, at 2:30 p.m. ET, join the First Lady for a Twitter Q&A on school nutrition and healthy school lunches on her Twitter handle, @FLOTUS.

    Here are the details:

    • Ask your questions now and during the live event on Twitter with the hashtag #LunchWithFLOTUS
    • Follow the Q&A live through the @FLOTUS Twitter handle
    • If you miss the live Q&A, the full session will be posted on WhiteHouse.gov and Storify.com/whitehouse

    Learn more about the First Lady's initiative to encourage healthy eating at Letsmove.gov/eat-healthy, and then join the First Lady for a Twitter chat on @FLOTUS on Thursday, June 12 at 2:30 p.m. ET.


  • My College Story Can Be Yours

    Ed. note: The full version of this op-ed is posted at Education Week. Read the full version here.

    As first lady, I've spent a lot of time talking with young people all across the country about education. I've heard about their hopes of going to college, getting good jobs, and one day starting families of their own. And I've also heard about the challenges they're facing—the rising costs of tuition, their overstretched school counselors, and the insecurities and fears that come along with being first-generation college students.

    My message to these young people is that while all of us adults—teachers, administrators, and policymakers—have to do a better job of giving them the best schools and opportunities for their future, at the end of the day, they also need to step up and take responsibility for their education themselves.

    That means going to class every day, setting their goals high, and working like crazy to achieve them. That's been the story of my life and my husband's life, so when I talk to these young people, my hope is that they see that our story can be their story, too—as long as they're willing to dedicate themselves to their education.

    Early last month, I officially gave this effort a name and an aspiration—my Reach Higher initiative. And that's really the goal: to inspire young people to reach higher to complete their education beyond high school so that they can own their futures. We're focusing on things like financial aid, college counseling, academic and summer planning, and college visits. Our objective is to ensure that every student in this country understands how to pursue and complete their education, whether it's at a traditional four-year college or a community college, or via a professional certificate or degree.

    Read the First Lady's full op-ed here.