Engage and Connect

President Obama is committed to making this the most open and participatory administration in history. That begins with taking your questions and comments, inviting you to join online events with White House officials, and giving you a way to engage with your government on the issues that matter the most.

Thumbnail from a video where a boy and a man are sitting together.

Latest News

  • Best Practices in Engaging the LGBT Community on the Affordable Care Act

    Across America, the Affordable Care Act is having a tremendous, positive impact on the health, wellbeing, and economic security of millions of Americans, including LGBT people and their families. Many members of the LGBT community face limited access to health care and insurance, and are less likely to get the preventive care they need to stay healthy. The Affordable Care Act directly addresses some of these needs. That’s why, during the first open enrollment period -- from October 1, 2013 to March 30, 2014 -- LGBT leaders and organizations at the national, state, and local level worked hard to raise awareness of the Affordable Care Act and get members of their communities covered. (Need examples? Click here.)

    But our work is not yet done. November 15, 2014 marks the start of a second open enrollment period – another critically important 3-month period to get LGBT people access to quality, affordable health care. And in the meantime, some members of the community (including young people who were #Bornin88) can still sign up for coverage through Special Enrollment Periods.

    To prepare for this important work, last week, the White House Office of Public Engagement and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services hosted a briefing for LGBT, HIV/AIDS, and health advocates to discuss best practices, innovative strategies, and new resources to help LGBT communities get covered. The briefing also included the release of a new report from the Out2Enroll campaign, which looked in-depth at LGBT community engagement efforts from the first open enrollment period. The report assesses promising practices, identifies remaining concerns, and offers concrete recommendations to help the marketplaces and other stakeholders effectively connect LGBT people with their new coverage options. Click here to read Out2Enroll’s report.

    Further Resources:

  • Second Made in Rural America Regional Forum Highlights Resources for Rural Delta Businesses

    U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker with Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill

    U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker joins Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill to discuss the opportunities for exporting goods from Rural America to the global economy. (Photo courtesy of Delta Regional Authority)

    Last week, the White House Rural Council convened the second Made in Rural America Regional Forum to bring together local, state, and federal export-related resources for businesses and community leaders throughout the Mississippi River Delta Region.

    The Delta Regional Authority and its state and local partners from Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas hosted the forum at Southwest Tennessee Community College in Northeast Memphis. The Delta region, with its entrepreneurial history, available land, and accessible waterways and transportation network, is primed to reap the benefits of increased exports and participation in exporting.

    More than 240 small business owners, industry representatives, community lenders, economic development officials, and community leaders attended the day-long forum. The forum offered business-to-business advice and best practices on expanding into international markets, highlighted financing resources, and facilitated discussion among regional leaders about how to incorporate exports into long-term economic development strategies.

  • Expanding Opportunities for Tribal Communities

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

    Since Labor Secretary Tom Perez arrived one year ago this week, he has referred to the Department of Labor as the “Department of Opportunity.” He believes it’s our mission to expand opportunities by ensuring that all Americans are treated fairly at work, that they are safe while on the job, and that they have access to the training and employment resources to achieve their goals. And he’s made this a priority for Native Americans and Alaska Natives, who often face unacceptably high levels of unemployment in their communities and tribal nations.

    Earlier this week, Secretary Perez traveled to Alaska to meet with leaders from the Cook Inlet Tribal Council to see how our investments − through grants from the department’s Division of Indian and Native American Programs − are creating opportunity for native peoples. Gloria O’Neill, who has served as president of the council since 1998, shared how the funding has helped expand social services for her community: Today, more than 12,000 individuals benefit annually from a wide array of programs, including child and family services, education, employment and training services, and programs helping formerly incarcerated individuals successfully transition back into their community.

  • President Obama Engages Native Youth at My Brother’s Keeper Town Hall

    Today, President Obama hosted a town hall session where he gave remarks to announce new commitments in support of the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) initiative and engaged in dialogue with young boys and men of color. Youth from the Center for Native American Youth’s Champions for Change program, the Native American Political Leadership Institute’s INSPIRE Initiative, and the Navajo Nation attended the town hall and asked the President about the Administration’s work to support Native American language and cultural preservation. The President reaffirmed his commitment to Native American youth and the importance of honoring one’s roots. Recalling his trip to the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation in June, he applauded the tribe’s work on Lakota language revitalization and the powerful stories he heard from the tribe’s young people.

    In his remarks, President Obama thanked the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and their partners for committing to establish an MBK task force for Native American boys and men. NCAI will form the task force in partnership with the Center for Native American Youth, the Native American Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the National Indian Child Welfare Association, the National Indian Education Association, and UNITY Inc. NCAI stated in a press release that the task force will “coordinate and serve as the central point for sharing important work, opportunities, and resources for our youth."

    The President also announced that Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Deloitte CEO Joe Echevarria will launch the National Convening Council (NCC), an independent private-sector initiative bringing together leaders from business, philanthropy and the faith, youth and nonprofit communities to combine their efforts to have a positive impact on boys and young men of color. 

    "My Brother’s Keeper isn't some new, big government program. It's actually a team effort,” said President Obama. “It’s all about a whole bunch of folks -- educators, business leaders, faith leaders, foundations, government -- all working together to give boys and young men of color the tools that they need to succeed and make sure that every young person can reach their potential."

    Raina Thiele is Associate Director in the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

  • Pride and Opportunity

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

    President Obama signs an executive order on further amendments to EO 11478

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks before he signs an executive order regarding further amendments to Executive Order 11478, Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government, and Executive Order 11246, Equal Employment Opportunity, to protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination, in the East Room of the White House, July 21, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

    A few weeks ago during Pride Month, I wrote about my belief that the nation and the workforce are strongest when we fully embrace diversity. Everyone, no matter whom they love, should have the opportunity to achieve their highest and best dreams. And the idea that you could be fired for no other reason than your sexual orientation does violence to our values.

    That’s what President Obama believes. So today, he signed an executive order extending workplace protections to LGBT employees of federal contractors and of the federal government.

    “Thanks to your passion and advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of your cause,” the President said to advocates gathered in the East Room at the White House, “our government – government of the people, by the people and for the people – will become just a little bit fairer.”

  • President Obama Signs a New Executive Order to Protect LGBT Workers

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the White House Blog. See the original post here.

    Watch on YouTube

    "Many of you have worked for a long time to see this day coming."

    Those were President Obama's words to the audience in the East Room of the White House this morning, before he signed an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

    At the signing, the President explained how, because of their "passionate advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of [their] cause, our government -- government of the people, by the people, and for the people -- will become just a little bit fairer."

  • Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience Announces Tribal Climate Resilience Program

    Today, at the fourth and final meeting of the White House State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, the Administration announced the new Tribal Climate Resilience Program to help tribes prepare for climate change. 

    As part of this new initiative, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will dedicate $10 million in funding for tribes and tribal organizations to develop tools to enable adaptive resource management, as well as the ability to plan for climate resilience. The program will offer nationwide climate preparedness planning sessions and provide funding for tribal engagement and outreach within regional and national climate communities.

    “Building on the President’s commitment to tribal leaders, the partnership announced today will help tribal nations prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change on their land and natural resources,” said Secretary Jewell.

    The Department of the Interior and Environmental Protection Agency will also partner to create a new subgroup on climate change under the White House Council on Native American Affairs, which will share data and information and coordinate Administration efforts to assist tribes in climate resilience and mitigation efforts.

    “Tribes are at the forefront of many climate issues, so we are excited to work in a more cross-cutting way to help address tribal climate needs,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.  “We’ve heard from tribal leaders loud and clear: when the federal family combines its efforts, we get better results - and nowhere are these results needed more than in the fight against climate change.”

    Task Force members Chairwoman Karen Diver of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and Mayor Reggie Joule of the Northwest Arctic Borough were tasked by the President with providing recommendations on climate preparedness and resilience specific to tribes. They led a national effort consisting of listening sessions, conference presentations, and agency webinars, to collect a multitude of tribal input on how to make tribal communities more prepared and resilient in the face of climate change. These recommendations will form the basis for their final recommendations to the Administration.  

    We look forward to continuing our work with Indian Country on this important topic and thank Chairwoman Diver and Mayor Joule for their tireless efforts leading to today’s announcement of this crucial new program.

    Raina Thiele is the Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. Susan Ruffo is the Associate Director for Climate Preparedness in the Council on Environmental Quality. 

  • Strengthening Communities Through Immigrant and Refugee Integration

    On July 16, I welcomed over 170 policymakers, practitioners, faith leaders, elected officials, researchers, and business representatives to the first-ever White House National Convening on Immigrant and Refugee Integration.

    These leaders traveled from every corner of the United States to share best practices on successful initiatives that cities and counties are deploying across the country. Participants brainstormed new strategies to enhance local, regional and national programs that ensure immigrants are fully participating in and contributing to American society.

    Listening to stories of their efforts on the ground was a poignant reminder that our success as a nation of immigrants is rooted in the American values of equality and opportunity. Each and every day, these organizations work to safeguard our nation’s legacy as a beacon of hope and opportunity for people from across the world.

    Over the past five years, the Administration has worked to strengthen integration efforts and maintain a dialogue with stakeholders to inform our national strategy on immigrant integration. In 2010, we established an interagency task force made up of key offices within the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor. This task force identified three pillars—linguistic, civic, and economic integration—to guide all organizational and federal efforts to integrate newcomers into the fabric of our nation. 

    Since then, the Administration has ensured that immigrants and refugees have tools that empower them to become successful entrepreneurs and engines for innovation and the economy. Through initiatives like the Department of Education’s Networks for Integrating New Americans (NINA) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Integration Grant Program, the Administration promotes diverse, inclusive, and welcoming communities that benefit both established residents and newcomers. 

    At the Convening, the Administration reaffirmed its commitment to advancing innovative policies in the fields of English language learning, workforce development, and naturalization of qualified lawful permanent residents. But more importantly, this inaugural event gave peer practitioners a platform where they could learn from one another, leverage collective resources, and forge innovative strategies for successful integration.

    By shining a spotlight on the incredible achievements of organizations—like Welcoming America and the National Partnership for New Americans—and showcasing examples of cities and state organizations doing great things to strengthen our nation’s economic and civic life, I am confident in our ability to welcome and support individuals working to achieve the American Dream.

    For more information, click here.

    Felicia Escobar is the Special Assistant to the President for Immigration Policy in the Domestic Policy Council.