The White House Blog: The First Lady

  • States Step Up to Help Veterans and Spouses Get Back to Work

    First Lady Michelle Obama watches Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley sign the Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013, April 17, 2013

    First Lady Michelle Obama watches Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley sign the Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013 during a ceremony at the State House in Annapolis, Md., April 17, 2013. Seated, from left are, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Gov. Martin O'Malley, and House Speaker Michael Busch. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    President Obama and the First Lady are committed to doing everything in their power to assist the brave men and women who have served our country in re-entering civilian life and finding employment. Over the last year and a half, the President has overseen the first re-design of the military’s transition assistance program in twenty years; created new tax credits to spur veteran hiring; expanded re-employment services, including the Veterans Job Bank and the Veterans Gold Card; and launched a series of initiatives to expand the number of veterans that get jobs in healthcare and first responder fields. Additionally, under the great leadership of the First Lady and Dr. Biden, Joining Forces has expanded hiring and training partnerships with the private sector in an effort to help our veterans and their spouses get back to work.

    Yet, our veterans still face major hurdles as they transition out of the military and into the civilian workforce. According to a 2012 survey by Prudential and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, 60 percent of survey respondents said they had trouble translating their military skills into civilian job experience, creating a significant barrier to employment. Many high-demand, good-paying jobs like paramedics, truck drivers, nurses, and welders, require either a national certification or state occupational license to be hired, and currently our national and state systems make it very difficult for service members and veterans to obtain these civilian certifications and licenses that directly translate to their military training. Often times service members and veterans are required to repeat education or training in order to receive these occupational credentials, even though much, and in some cases, all, of their military training and experience overlaps with credential training requirements. And employers, many with significant needs for skilled workers, are left waiting for these military members to complete these, oftentimes lengthy, credentialing training programs – programs that many veterans could have taught themselves.


  • President Obama and Vice President Biden’s 2012 Tax Returns

    Today, the President released his 2012 federal income tax returns. He and the First Lady filed their income tax returns jointly and reported adjusted gross income of $608,611. The Obamas paid $112,214 in total tax. 

    The President and First Lady also reported donating $150,034 – or about 24.6 percent of their adjusted gross income – to 33 different charities. The largest reported gift to charity was $103,871 to the Fisher House Foundation.

    The President’s effective federal income tax rate is 18.4 percent. The President believes we must reform our tax system which is why he has proposed policies like the Buffett Rule that would ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share while protecting families making under $250,000 from seeing their taxes go up. Under the President’s own tax proposals, including limitations on the value of tax preferences for high-income households, he would pay more in taxes while ensuring we cut taxes for the middle class and those trying to get in it.


  • Photo Gallery: Behind the Scenes in March 2013

    The White House Photo Office just released their latest behind-the-scenes photo gallery, which includes images from President Obama’s historic Middle East trip, candid shots with senior advisors, and events around the White House.

    Check out some of the best images below, and see the full set of 36 photos on our Flickr gallery.

    • President Barack Obama signs memorabilia for March of Dimes 2013 National Ambassador Nina Centofanti

      President Obama signs memorabilia for March of Dimes 2013 National Ambassador Nina Centofanti, 8. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • President Barack Obama talks with Vice President Joe Biden in March

      President Barack Obama talks with Vice President Joe Biden in the Oval Office. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • President Barack Obama throws a football with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough

      President Barack Obama throws a football with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • Bo, the Obama family dog, waits for First Lady Michelle Obama on the South Lawn driveway

      Bo, the Obama family dog, waits for First Lady Michelle Obama on the South Lawn driveway. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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    • President Barack Obama visits Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum

      President Barack Obama visits Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, March 22, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk with their daughtersto attend an Easter service

      President Obama and First Lady Obama walk with their daughters Sasha and Malia to attend an Easter service. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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  • West Wing Week: 04/12/13 or “We Choose Love”

    This week, the President, Vice President and First Lady continued to call for action to reduce gun violence, while the President announced the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget, conferred the Medal of Honor, met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and held an Easter Prayer breakfast.


  • First Lady Michelle Obama Challenges Chicago Leaders to Create Opportunity for all Children

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks on youth empowerment in Chicago, Ill., April 10, 2013.

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks on youth empowerment at a “Joint Luncheon Meeting: Working Together to Address Youth Violence in Chicago,” hosted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in Chicago, Ill., April 10, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    First Lady Michelle Obama today brought a room filled with Chicago business and community leaders to tears as she challenged them to commit to the most important unfinished work of our lifetime -- widening the circle of opportunity for every last one of our children.

    Mrs. Obama was in Chicago to address the Public Safety Action Committee, a new private-sector effort launched by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to address the violent crime that is taking a terrible toll on the youth of the great city she and I both call home.

    As the First Lady pointed out, thousands of Chicago children are now living in neighborhoods where a funeral for a teenager is considered unfortunate, but not unusual; where wandering onto the wrong block or even just standing on your own front porch can mean putting yourself at risk.

    This needs to change. In Chicago and across the country, we need to create ladders of opportunity for our young people. We need to give our children mentors who push them and nurture them. We need to teach them the life-skills they need to succeed. We need to give them alternatives to gangs and drugs – safe places where they can learn something and stay out of trouble. Every single child -- in cities like Chicago and all across America -- has boundless promise, no matter where he or she lives. 


  • First Lady Michelle Obama Hosts a Student Workshop Celebrating "Memphis Soul"

    Ed note: You can watch a livestream of "In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul" on whitehouse.gov/live tonight at 6:55 pm ET.
     
    First Lady Michelle Obama Hosts Memphis Soul Student Workshop, April 9, 2013

    First Lady Michelle Obama hosts an interactive student workshop event: “Soulsville, USA: The History of Memphis Soul,” in the State Dining Room of the White House, April 9, 2013. Joining the First Lady on stage, from left, are: Sam Moore, Mavis Staples, Justin Timberlake, Charlie Musselwhite and Ben Harper. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    As First Lady Michelle Obama noted earlier today, "You never know what's going to happen at the White House!"

    Mrs. Obama was talking to a group of students who had come from California, Tennessee, New York, Florida, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C to participate in an interactive workshop called “Soulsville, USA: The History of Memphis Soul.” And while her guests were excited to be in the State Dining Room for the event, the presence of Justin Timberlake on the panel increased their enthusiasm. 

    Timberlake, Sam Moore, Mavis Staples, Charlie Musselwhite and Ben Harper are all participating in the "In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul" event later tonight, and the First Lady invited them to join the students for a conversation about this truly American art form, and the hard work involved in being a successful musician or artist. 


  • West Wing Week: 04/05/13 or “The Scientist-in-Chief”

    This week, the President spoke on the importance of investing in infrastructure at Port Miami, and on reducing gun violence while at the Denver Police Academy. He hosted the Prime Minister of Singapore and Kid President, unveiled the BRAIN initiative, and rolled, read, and relaxed with some of the thousands of visitors to the 135th annual White House Easter Egg Roll.


  • Students Join First Lady Michelle Obama to Plant the White House Kitchen Garden

    Ed. Note: This is a cross post from LetsMove.gov. You can find the original post here.

    First Lady Michelle Obama invited students from across the country to join her today on the South Lawn for what has become a favorite tradition: planting the White House Kitchen Garden. For the fifth year in a row, Mrs. Obama and Let's Move Executive Director Sam Kass got their hands dirty as they planted the vegetables that will be harvested this summer and enjoyed by the First Family and White House guests, and donated to local charities. 

    This year, the First Lady was joined by students from schools that have made exceptional improvements to their school lunches through the implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. At the Benjamin David Gullett Elementary School in Bradenton, Florida teachers use gardening as a learning opportunity for students, and the school’s food and nutrition program teaches students about planting, growing, and tasting vegetables to give them a better understanding of nutritious food.


  • Hey Kids, Let's Get Cooking!

    Ed. Note: This is a cross post from LetsMove.gov. You can find the original post here.

    First Lady Michelle Obama is once again challenging America’s most creative junior chefs to put their talents to good use and whip up some delicious lunchtime recipes.

    Epicurious Kids’ State Dinner Place Setting

    A booklet of the winning lunch recipes is provided with the place setting at the Kids’ State Dinner in the East Room of the White House, Aug. 20, 2012. First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the luncheon for 54 children from all over the United States who were asked to create an original lunch recipe that was healthy and affordable. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

    Let's Move! is thrilled to announce the Second Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ State Dinner, a nationwide recipe challenge that originated to promote healthy eating among America’s youth, sponsored by The White House, the U.S. Department of Education, and Epicurious.

    “Last year’s Kids' State Dinner was one of my favorite events we’ve ever done for Let’s Move! because it perfectly captured how young people, parents, community leaders and businesses can come together for innovative, healthy solutions,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “Last year’s young chefs impressed and inspired me with their creativity, and I can’t wait to welcome a whole new group to the White House this summer and taste their creations. So kids, let’s get cooking!”

    The second Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids' “State Dinner” invites parents or guardians and their kids, ages 8-12, to create and submit an original lunch recipe that is healthy, affordable, and tasty. Each recipe must adhere to the guidance that supports USDA’s MyPlate to ensure that the criteria of a healthy meal are met. Entries must represent each of the food groups, either in one dish or as parts of a lunch meal, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy foods, with fruits and veggies making up roughly half the plate or recipe.

    Fifty-six children and their parent/guardian (one pair from each of the 50 states, plus the U.S. Territories, D.C., and Puerto Rico) will be flown to Washington, DC where they will have the opportunity to attend a Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House this summer, hosted by Mrs. Obama. A selection of the winning healthy recipes will be served.

    President Barack Obama Drops by the Epicurious Kids’ State Dinner

    President Barack Obama drops by the Kids’ State Dinner in the East Room of the White House, Aug. 20, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Recipes can be submitted April 3 through May 12 online at recipechallenge.epicurious.com, or via mail at “The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge c/o Epicurious.com,” 1166 Avenue of the Americas, 15thFloor, New York, NY 10036.


    Learn more:


  • First Lady Michelle Obama Hosts a "42" Movie Workshop for Students

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks during the "42" film workshop, April 2, 2013

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks during the "42" film workshop in the State Dining Room of the White House, April 2, 2013. Workshop participants included, from left, Brian Helgeland, Chad Boseman, Harrison Ford, Rachel Robinson, and moderator Paulette Aniskoff. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    First Lady Michelle Obama today hosted 80 high school and college students from across the country for a screening of "42," followed by an interactive workshop with the cast and crew of the movie. "42" tells the story of Jackie Robinson, the very first African American to play major league baseball. The panel was moderated by Paulette Aniskoff, Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, and featured Harrison Ford, Chadwick Boseman and Brian Helgeland.

    The discussion focused on the inspirational themes from Robinson's life that students -- who came from Thurgood Marshall Academy in Washington, DC; Watkins Mill High School in Gaithersburg, MD; TC Williams High School in Alexandria, VA and Amino Jackie Robinson Charter High School in Los Angeles, CA -- can apply to their own.  

    Also joining the conversation was Rachel Robinson, Jackie Robinson's widow and his partner throughout his incredible life's journey. And as Mrs. Obama explained to the young crowd, Mrs. Robinson's example can be their guide. "Jackie and Rachel Robinson weren't destined for greatness -- they prepared themselves for greatness, which meant that they could make a difference outside of baseball, as well. And that is the only thing that is important for you to understand. You can be great in your profession, you can earn a lot of money, you can be famous, but the question is what are you doing for others."