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Barack After Dark™: Being Biden. 50th Anniversary Of The Civil Rights Act. SelectUSA. New Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship.


 

By Jueseppi B.

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Being Biden Vol. 14: Chopper

 

 

The audio series Being Biden is an opportunity for the Vice President to give you a window into his daily life, and share some of his most memorable experiences.

 

In this episode, Vice President Biden talks about what it was like to meet with Trevor, a Navy SEAL, and his military dog Chopper. The two served together in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Chopper saved Trevor’s life. Military dogs perform a hugely important service, helping our wounded heal — in addition to serving them in combat zones.

 

Listen to this edition of Being Biden:

 

 

 

Vice President Joe Biden meets with SEAL dog “Chopper” and his handler, Trevor Maroshek, a Navy SEAL Veteran, and Trevor’s wife, Rujuta, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, April 8, 2014. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Vice President Joe Biden meets with SEAL dog “Chopper” and his handler, Trevor Maroshek, a Navy SEAL Veteran, and Trevor’s wife, Rujuta, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, April 8, 2014. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

 

Want more episodes like this? Sign up to get email updates onWH.gov/being-biden.

 

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Honoring President Lyndon Baines Johnson on the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act

 

Today, 50 years after President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law, President Obama spoke at the LBJ Presidential Library to honor the work and legacy of our nation’s 36th president.

 

“As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, we honor the men and women who made it possible,” President Obama said. “We recall the countless unheralded Americans, black and white, students and scholars, preachers and housekeepers — whose names are etched not on monuments, but in the hearts of their loved ones, and in the fabric of the country they helped to change.”

 

 

“But we also gather here,” President Obama said, “deep in the heart of the state that shaped him, to recall one giant man’s remarkable efforts to make real the promise of our founding:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”’

 

Because of the Civil Rights movement, because of the laws President Johnson signed, new doors of opportunity and education swung open for everybody — not all at once, but they swung open.  Not just blacks and whites, but also women and Latinos; and Asians and Native Americans; and gay Americans and Americans with a disability.  They swung open for you, and they swung open for me.  And that’s why I’m standing here today — because of those efforts, because of that legacy.

Read President Obama’s full remarks, or watch them above.

 

President Barack Obama delivers remarks as First Lady Michelle Obama, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and LBJ Presidential Library Director Mark Updegrove, listen at right at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, April 10, 2014. They attended a Civil Rights Summit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Barack Obama delivers remarks as First Lady Michelle Obama, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and LBJ Presidential Library Director Mark Updegrove, listen at right at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, April 10, 2014. They attended a Civil Rights Summit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

 

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SelectUSA: Investing in the United States, Creating Jobs, and Spurring Economic Growth

 

 

Today, Lufthansa Technik announced a significant new investment in Puerto Rico that demonstrates how efforts to deploy the full resources of the federal government to win job-creating investments in U.S. states and territories pay off. Through the advocacy of several high-level U.S. officials, including the Vice President and the Secretary of Commerce, as well as the work of SelectUSA, the government of Puerto Rico was able to secure this new investment, which will create up to 400 permanent jobs and strengthen Puerto Rico’s burgeoning civil aviation sector.

 

Lufthansa Technik, a wholly owned subsidiary of Germany-based Lufthansa AG, is making a significant new investment in Puerto Rico to build a maintenance, repair, and operations facility. Thanks to the persistent support of the Administration through our SelectUSA investment initiative, local efforts led by Governor Garcia Padilla of Puerto Rico, and the strengths of Puerto Rico’s growing aviation industry, the United States won this new investment despite strong competition.

 

SelectUSA – launched in 2011 and housed in the Department of Commerce – is the first-ever federal effort to bring job-creating investment from around the world to the United States in partnership with state and local economic development organizations. Today, Ambassador-led teams at our posts overseas directly support foreign investors looking to make investments in the U.S. by providing resources and information, and when needed, connecting them to investment experts at the Department of Commerce and throughout the SelectUSA interagency network.

 

Each investor, and investment case, gets tailor-made attention from our case managers at SelectUSA, who rely on ombudsman efforts to answer questions, as well as a sophisticated advocacy network that leverages key Administration officials all the way up to the President of the United States. Lufthansa is a perfect example of our coordinated efforts to bring job-creating investment here to the United States. In addition to Vice President Biden and the Secretary of Commerce and her team, SelectUSA involved other key federal officials, and coordinated with several federal agencies to provide the needed assistance to secure the project. And, when it came time to seal the deal, SelectUSA coordinated an effort across the federal government, including the support of the President’s Taskforce on Puerto Rico, to present Lufthansa with the case for locating their investment in the United States.

 

The Lufthansa investment is yet another example that demonstrates that the United States is an increasingly attractive location for job-creating business investment from around the world. Last year, for the first time in a decade, global business executives ranked the United States the number one destination for foreign investment. And the Department of Commerce released new data showing that foreign direct investment flows into the United States and our territories rose from $160 billion in 2012 to $187.5 billion in 2013.

 

With our booming natural gas sector, our skilled workforce, our status as home of the some of the top research universities and innovation hubs, and our resurgent manufacturing communities, the United States is primed for business investment. Businesses increasingly cite the U.S. open investment climate, rule of law, the ability to efficiently export their goods, access to high-quality supply chains, and proximity to robust consumer markets as key factors to locate their operations in the United States. And now, with the help of SelectUSA, the federal government is undertaking a coordinated and concerted effort to showcase our strengths and make the case with even more investors that the United States should be their top choice.

 

To put it simply, the United States is Open for Business.

 

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Announcing President Obama’s New Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship

 

 

At the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last October, President Obama announced that we would bring together a group of America’s best and brightest innovators to champion entrepreneurship both here at home and overseas. Together, these individuals would use their networks and platforms to stimulate a start-up culture in the United States and all over the globe. I am honored to chair this new group, the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE).

 

President Barack Obama drops by the first meeting of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship, with Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House

President Barack Obama drops by the first meeting of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship, with Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, April 7, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

This week, the inaugural members of PAGE met for the very first time. Each of these 11 individuals has a unique and valuable perspective that will inform how the group tackles the challenges to entrepreneurial growth at home and abroad. For example, Tory Burch (Chief Executive Officer, Tory Burch; Founder, Tory Burch Foundation), who started her line of shoes and accessories just 10 years ago, recognizes the obstacles facing aspiring businesspeople who need access to financial capital to turn their ideas into successful ventures.

 

Nina Vaca (Chief Executive Officer, Pinnacle Technical Resources), runs a business that provides IT services to companies all over the country and sees a real need to ensure we have a highly-skilled workforce in America that can take on 21st century jobs. And Hamdi Ulukaya (Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Chobani), who came to the United States from Turkey and launched Chobani Greek Yogurt in upstate New York in 2007, shared that many talented, entrepreneurial minds lack a key ingredient that can help them realize success: a belief that they can achieve their dreams.

 

These leaders have created jobs in the U.S., and together can utilize their experience to help others. They are passionate about spurring creativity and entrepreneurship in the United States and recognize the positive impact of new business formation on economic growth and job creation. In fact, young companies today are responsible for almost all new job growth across the United States.

 

PAGE members understand the benefits that creative ideas and solutions bring to our society. Alexa von Tobel (Founder and Chief Executive Officer, LearnVest) launched her company in 2009, with the goal of spreading financial literacy and financial advice to people all over the country regardless of their income or background. Rich Barton (Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, Zillow), founded Expedia, Zillow, and Glassdoor, with the idea that one way to empower people is through transparency and access to information.

 

America’s entrepreneurial spirit and supporting ecosystem are admired worldwide. As President Obama reminded us in our meeting on Monday, promoting entrepreneurship at home and abroad can generate prosperity globally by spurring job growth and encouraging innovative solutions to pressing challenges. The Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship will work to educate and inspire bright minds across the United States and around the world, helping them find pathways to start their own businesses and create their own success, leading to greater peace, prosperity and progress.

 

The inaugural members of PAGE are:

  • Rich Barton, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, Zillow (Seattle, WA)
  • Tory Burch, Chief Executive Officer, Tory Burch; Founder, Tory Burch Foundation (New York, NY)
  • Steve Case, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Revolution (Washington, DC)
  • Helen Greiner, Chief Executive Officer, CyPhyWorks; Co-Founder, iRobot Corporation (Danvers, MA)
  • Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, LinkedIn (Mountain View, CA)
  • Quincy Jones, Chief Executive Officer, Quincy Jones Productions (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Salman Khan, Founder and Executive Director, Khan Academy (Mountain View, CA)
  • Daphne Koller, Co-Founder and President, Coursera (Mountain View, CA)
  • Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Chobani (New York, NY)
  • Nina Vaca, Chief Executive Officer, Pinnacle Technical Resources (Dallas, TX)
  • Alexa von Tobel, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, LearnVest (New York, NY)

 

 

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Marking the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act at the LBJ Presidential Library

 

President Barack Obama’s Keynote Speech: Civil Rights Summit, The LBJ Presidential Library.

 

New Rule Prohibits Voters In Miami-Dade County From Using The Restroom, No Matter How Long The Line

 

Millionaire Uses Fortune To help Kids In Struggling Town: What Is The Tangelo Park Pilot Program?

 

Breaking: Stephen Colbert named next host of ‘Late Show’

 

The Vice President and Dr. Biden’s Support for Community Colleges and Apprenticeship Programs

 

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TheObamaCrat™ Wake-Up Call For Thursday The 20th Of February.


 

By Jueseppi B.

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White House Schedule – February 20th, 2014

 

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 20th, 2014

 

DAILY GUIDANCE AND SCHEDULE FOR
FRIDAY, JANUARY 20th, 2014

 

In the evening, the President will deliver remarks at the Democratic Governors Association dinner in Washington, DC.

 

Thursday, February 20 2014 All Times ET

 

1:50 AM: The President arrives Joint Base Andrews.

 

2:05 AM: The President arrives the White House, South Lawn.

 

1:00 PMPress Briefing by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest, The Brady Press Briefing Room.

 

2:00 PM: The Vice President meets with members of the Cabinet to discuss ways to identify job skills that match the demands of American companies, while creating training programs to teach those skills across the country, Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

 

5:35 PM: The President delivers remarks and answers questions at the Democratic Governors Association dinner,The St. Regis, Washington DC.

 

 

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White House Week Ahead Schedule

 

On Thursday, the President will return from Toluca, Mexico and attend the Democratic Governors Association dinner.

 

On Friday, the President will meet with the Democratic governors in town for the annual National Governors Association Winter Meeting to discuss his Opportunity for All agenda and the Year of Action.

 

 

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White House LIVE!!! Streaming.

 

Next Up…

February 20, 2014 1:00 PM EST

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney

The White House, White House LIVE!!! Streaming.

 

 

 

February 20, 2014 3:30 PM EST

White House Patent Reform Event

The White House, White House LIVE!!! Streaming.

 

 

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President Obama Holds a Press Conference with President Nieto and Prime Minister Harper

February 19, 2014 | 55:13 |Public Domain

 

President Obama, President Nieto of Mexico and Prime Minster Harper of Canada speak to the press following their trilateral North American Leaders Summit meeting.

 

 

 

President Obama Delivers Remarks with President Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Harper

February 19, 2014 | 18:02 |Public Domain

 

President Obama delivers remarks to North American business, civil society and education leaders with President Nieto of Mexico and Prime Minster Harper of Canada.

 

 

 

President Obama Speaks on Improving Fuel Efficiency for American Trucks

 

Press Briefing

 

President Obama Responds to the California Drought

 

President Obama Participates in a Roundtable Discussion on the California Drought

 

 

Obama Warns of Consequences for Ukraine Violence

 

 

 

Jordan Davis Parents ‘He Will Pay’ FULL 15 Min Interview Last Word w Lawrence O’Donnell

 

 

 

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Statements and Releases February 19/20, 2014

 

FACT SHEET – Executive Actions: Answering the President’s Call to Strengthen Our Patent System and Foster Innovation

 

Press Conference by President Obama, President Peña Nieto, and Prime Minister Harper

 

Joint Statement by North American Leaders – 21st Century North America: Building the Most Competitive and Dynamic Region in the World

 

FACT SHEET: Key Deliverables for the 2014 North American Leaders Summit

 

Statement by the President

 

Readout of President Obama’s Call with Prime Minister Erdogan

 

FACT SHEET: President Obama to Sign Executive Order on Streamlining the Export/Import Process for America’s Businesses

 

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Speeches and Remarks February 19, 2014

 

Remarks by President Obama, President Peña Nieto, and Prime Minister Harper to North American Business, Civil Society and Education Leaders

 

Remarks by President Obama before Restricted Bilateral Meeting

 

 

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The White House Blog

 

Of the People: Live from a Digital Classroom with Education Secretary Arne Duncan

 

It’s Barack’s World™ ♥: Barack In Toluca, Mexico.

 

Lucia McBath & Ronald Davis, Parents Of Jordan Russell Davis, Interview On The Last Word With Lawrence .

 

First Lady Michelle LaVaughn Obama Visits The “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” Thursday,

 

Barack After Dark™: What $10.10 Would Mean For You?

 

 

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Join @OFA volunteers who are calling on Congress to #RaiseTheWage.

Join @OFA volunteers who are calling on Congress to #RaiseTheWage.

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A Word From OUR First Lady Michelle Obama: Meet Mr,. Troy Simon


 

By Jueseppi B.

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Hello, all –

 

Today, I met a young man named Troy.

 

Troy comes from New Orleans, where his family lived through the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. He couldn’t read until he was twelve, and would regularly cut school because the other students would tease him. When he did attend, he’d shove desks, start fights — anything to get him out of class.

 

But then Troy saw his younger siblings start down a similar path. And he decided to make a change. He connected with his fifth-grade teacher, and enrolled in a program called the Urban League College Track. With the support of College Track and his teachers, he worked hard and made his way into high school — and today, he’s a sophomore at Bard College, studying American Literature.

 

There are a lot of kids like Troy out there — kids with all the potential in the world — but far too many of them are slipping through the cracks. They’re not making their way to college — maybe because their parents never went, or because they’ve never been encouraged to believe they could succeed there.

 

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It’s on all of us to help change that.

 

That’s why today, Barack and I hosted college and university presidents, business leaders, philanthropists, and representatives from organizations around the country who are helping more of our kids see their potential and pursue their education. They’re helping them navigate the financial aid and college admissions process. They’re working with them to find schools that match their ability and interests. And they’ve made real, concrete commitments to help make college a reality for more kids.

 

New Orleans student Troy Simon with President Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama during an event on expanding college opportunity, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building

New Orleans student Troy Simon with President Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama during an event on expanding college opportunity, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building

 

And here’s the thing: You don’t have to be a university president or an executive to do that. There is something that each and every one of us can do in our communities to help make sure our kids realize their potential and make their way into higher education. That could mean having a conversation with a young neighbor or a relative, serving as a mentor, or volunteering at a local high school to help students fill out their college applications.

 

So I’m asking you today to make a commitment of your own — and learn more about the commitments that universities and organizations from around the country are making, too.

 

I’m passionate about helping our young people because I see my story in theirs.

 

Neither of my parents graduated from college, but they always encouraged me to pursue my education and told me that college was possible. And I know that there are so many kids out there just like me: kids who have a world of potential but need some encouragement and support to make it through college.

 

That’s why I was so inspired by some of the commitments I learned about today.

 

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Universities are taking steps like helping underserved students with financial literacy, or finding innovative ways for academic advisors to better support students who could use a helping hand. And many colleges are working with organizations like the Posse Foundation to give kids the social and academic support they’ll need to graduate.

 

These kinds of programs aren’t just good for these young people. They’re good for all of us. Because after everything these kids will have overcome to get to college — and get through college — they’ll have all the skills they need to thrive in our businesses, and law firms, and labs. And that’s not just good for them and their families, it’s good for their communities and our country.

 

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That’s why Barack is working every single day to expand opportunities to every single young person in America. And that’s why we’re working to rally the country around his “North Star” goal – that by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

 

Reaching that goal begins with each of us doing our part as parents, students, educators, and citizens.

 

We can all help a young person realize his or her potential, so I hope you’ll learn more about the commitments that organizations and schools around the country are making — and then make a commitment of your own.

 

Thanks in advance for everything you will do on behalf of America’s young people.

 

First Lady Michelle Obama.

 

The President And First Lady At The College Opportunity Summit

 

 

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Barack After Dark™: Michelle Host. Barack Invests. Climate Change Progress.


 

By Jueseppi B.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Hosts a Discussion on Education

 

Kasie Coccaro
Kasie Coccaro

January 16, 2014
10:54 AM EST

 

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks prior to a screening of the movie "The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete," and a discussion in the State Dining RoomFirst Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks prior to a screening of the movie “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete,” and a discussion in the State Dining Room of the White House Jan. 15, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

 

Yesterday, to support the President’s “North Star” Goal — that by 2020, Americans will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world – First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a discussion with education stakeholders about the challenges and best practices regarding education access in underserved communities. As part of the event, guests participated in a screening of The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, a coming of age story about two inner-city youth that display grit, resilience, courage even in the most hopeless circumstances. The movie’s executive producer Alicia Keys opened up the event by talking about how she was personally inspired by the script. The First Lady then thanked the educators participating in the event for engaging on this issue:

 

I want to thank all of you for taking the time to participate in this screening and this discussion, and for the work that you’re doing to move our kids forward and basically keep our country thriving and on top. And again, there’s a reason why I invited you all here. We did this because for many of you, this movie isn’t just a powerful story of — or a great piece of art.  For so many of you, it’s the reality you see every day in your classrooms and in your communities.

 

The First Lady then spoke about her commitment to engaging with young people and encourage them to take a active role in their education so that they can create a better future for themselves and their country.

 

I’m going to tell them that they have everything they need to succeed already. It’s all in there, but they still have to be committed to getting their educations. I’m going to be making a special effort, obviously, to reach kids like Mister and Pete, who face such overwhelming obstacles in their lives. And as you all know, too often these kids view their difficult life experiences as weaknesses. They view what they go through as a source of embarrassment and shame sometimes.  But as we all know, it’s really just the opposite, and it’s important for them to understand that.

 

 

 

A Budget Deal That Invests in Our Youngest Children

 

Cecilia Muñoz
Cecilia Muñoz

January 16, 2014
10:00 AM EST

 

President Barack Obama participates in a literacy lesson with children while visiting a pre-kindergarten classroomPresident Barack Obama participates in a literacy lesson with children while visiting a pre-kindergarten classroom at Moravia Elementary School in Baltimore, Md., May 17, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

In last year’s State of the Union address President Obama laid out his bold vision to expand access to high-quality pre-school to every child in America.

 

He called on Congress to help turn this vision into reality, not just because studies show that children who start learning at the earliest ages are more likely to succeed in school and in life, but because for every dollar that is invested in early education, we save multiple dollars in areas like improved educational outcomes, increased labor productivity, and a reduction in crime.

 

You can find more about those stats and the President’s proposal in this blog post, but in short, an investment in America’s children is a great investment.

 

The President also made it clear during last year’s State of the Union address that the Administration couldn’t do this on our own – we needed Congress to step up and do their part, and make America’s children a priority.

 

Thankfully, the bipartisan budget deal is a step in the right direction, including:

 

  • $8.6 billion in Head Start funding, which will help support an additional 90,000 children and their families with early education and services.
  • New funding to launch Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships across the country, to grow the supply of high-quality infant and toddler care for America’s youngest children.
  • $250 million in new funding through the Race to the Top Program for communities to develop and expand access to high-quality public preschool programs.

 

Clearly we have much more work to do, and this bipartisan budget agreement is not a perfect document – no one got everything they wanted, including the President – that is the nature of compromise.

 

However, this deal does represent a step in the right direction when it comes to one of the best investments we can make as a nation – an investment in our nation’s children.

 

Cecilia Muñoz is the Director of the Domestic Policy Council

 

Related Topics: EducationMaryland

 

 

Making Progress on Climate Change

 

Dan Utech
Dan Utech

January 16, 2014
04:45 PM EST

 

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on climate change, at Georgetown University President Barack Obama delivers remarks on climate change, at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., June 25, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

In June 2013, President Obama gave a speech at Georgetown University where he laid out both the case for action on climate change and the steps his Administration will take to address it. The Climate Action Plan that the President announced includes steps to cut carbon pollution, help prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change that are already on the way, and continue American leadership in international efforts to combat global climate change. As we begin 2014, seven months after the President’s speech, we can report that the Administration is delivering on the ambitious goals the President put forward.

 

In the past few months, the Administration has taken important steps under the Climate Action Plan to move to cleaner sources of power, strengthen our communities against climate change impacts such as the threat of more severe weather, and engage our international partners. The Department of the Interior continued to approve renewable energy projects on our Federal; the Department of Energy has proposed new energy efficiency standards for appliances and equipment that will help cut consumers’ electricity bills; and the Environmental Protection Agency has taken common sense steps to cut carbon pollution from power plants.

 

In addition, the President has signed an Executive Order on Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change, and we have brought together a diverse group of elected officials through the State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. The Administration has also made significant progress in leading multilateral and bilateral efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions while working to advance international climate negotiations.

 

Taking on the challenge of climate change will require an all-hands effort.  Over the last seven months we have made progress under the President’s Climate Action plan towards meeting this challenge in a way that advances our economy, our environment, and public health at the same time. For more highlights on the Administration’s work since the President’s speech, check out our latest Progress Report on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

 


 

Learn more:

 

 

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January 16th, 2014: Photo of the Day

 

President Barack Obama talks on the phone with Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom in the Oval Office, Jan. 16, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama talks on the phone with Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom in the Oval Office, Jan. 16, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

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The President And First Lady At The College Opportunity Summit


 

By Jueseppi B.

New Orleans student Troy Simon with President Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama during an event on expanding college opportunity, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building

New Orleans student Troy Simon with President Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama during an event on expanding college opportunity, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building

 

Remarks by the President and First Lady at College Opportunity Summit

 

South Court Auditorium
Eisenhower Executive Office Building

 

11:37 A.M. EST

 

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MRS. OBAMA:  Good morning.  Thank you, everyone.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  You guys rest yourselves.  Thank you so much.

 

First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks on Expanding College Opportunity

 

Published on Jan 16, 2014

The First Lady Speaks to leaders in postsecondary education at The Event on College Opportunity. This event is dedicated to launching a plan of action for increasing college opportunity for low-income and disadvantaged students. January 16, 2014.

 

 

It is really great to be here today with all of you.  We have with us today college and university presidents; we have experts and advocates, and civic and business leaders.  And I want to thank all of you for taking the time to be here today and for working every day to help young people pursue their education and build brighter futures for themselves and for our country.

 

 

And I’d also like us to give a really big hand to Troy for sharing that story.  (Applause.)  That’s pretty powerful stuff, and presented so eloquently.  I know yesterday I met Troy — he was nervous.  (Laughter.)  I don’t really know why you were nervous.  You’re pretty awesome.

 

MR. SIMON:  Thank you.

 

MRS. OBAMA:  Troy’s story reminds us all of the limitless capacity that lies within all of our young people no matter where they come from or how much money they have.  Troy is an example of why we all should care deeply about this issue.

 

And Troy, and millions of others like him, are why I care so much about this issue, and why in the coming years I’m going to be spending more and more of my time focusing on education.  Because as everyone here knows, education is the key to success for so many kids.  And my goal specifically is to reach out directly to young people and encourage them to take charge of their futures and complete an education beyond high school.  And I’m doing this because so often when we talk about education, we talk about our young people and what we need to do for them.  We talk about the programs we need to create for them, about the resources we need to devote to them.

 

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But we must remember that education is a two-way bargain.  And while there is so much more we must do for our kids, at the end of the day, as Troy described, the person who has the most say over whether or not a student succeeds is the student him or herself.  Ultimately, they are the ones sitting in that classroom.  They’re the ones who have to set goals for themselves and work hard to achieve those goals every single day.

 

So my hope is that with this new effort, that instead of talking about our kids, we talk with our kids.  I want to hear what’s going on in their lives.  I want to inspire them to step up and commit to their education so they can have opportunities they never even dreamed of.  I’m doing this because that story of opportunity through education is the story of my life, and I want them to know that it can be their story, too –- but only if they devote themselves to continuing their education past high school.

 

And for many students, that might mean attending a college or university like the ones many of you represent.  For others, it might mean choosing a community college.  It might mean pursuing short-term professional training.  But no matter what they do, I want to make sure that students believe that they have what it takes to succeed beyond high school.  That’s going to be my message to young people.

 

But here’s the thing:  I know that that message alone isn’t enough.  Like I said, this is a two-way street, and that means we all have to step up.  Because make no mistake about it, these kids are smart.  They will notice if we’re not holding up our end of the bargain.  They will notice if we tell them about applying for college or financial aid, but then no one is there to help them choose the right school or fill out the right forms.  They will notice if we tell them that they’re good enough to graduate from college, but then no college asks them to apply, no college invites them to visit their campus.

 

And so we’ve got to re-commit ourselves to helping these kids pursue their education.  And as you discussed in your first panel today, one of the first steps is getting more underserved young people onto college campuses.  The fact is that right now we are missing out on so much potential because so many promising young people — young people like Troy who have the talent it takes to succeed — simply don’t believe that college can be a reality for them.  Too many of them are falling through the cracks, and all of you know that all too well.

 

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And that’s why so many of you are already finding new ways to reach out to the underserved students in your communities.  You’re helping them navigate the financial aid and college admissions process, and you’re helping them find schools that match their abilities and interests.  And I know from my own experience just how important all of that work is that you’re doing.

 

See, the truth is that if Princeton hadn’t found my brother as a basketball recruit, and if I hadn’t seen that he could succeed on a campus like that, it never would have occurred to me to apply to that school — never.  And I know that there are so many kids out there just like me — kids who have a world of potential, but maybe their parents never went to college or maybe they’ve never been encouraged to believe they could succeed there.

 

And so that means it’s our job to find those kids.  It’s our job to help them understand their potential and then get them enrolled in a college that can help them meet their needs.  But then we all know that just getting into school is only half the story, because once students are there, they have got to graduate.  And that’s not always easy, especially given what many of these kids are dealing with when they get to campus.

 

Just think about it.  You just heard a snippet from Troy.  Just to make it to college, these kids have already overcome so much — neighborhoods riddled with crime and drugs, moms and dads who weren’t around, too many nights when they had to go to bed hungry.  But as I tell these kids when I talk to them, we can’t think about those experiences that they’ve had as weaknesses — just the opposite.  They’re actually strengths.

 

In facing and overcoming these challenges, these kids have developed skills like grit and resilience that many of their peers will never be able to compete with — never.  And when they get out in the world, those are the exact skills they will need to succeed.  And they will succeed.

 

But imagine how hard it is to realize that when you first get to college.  You’re in a whole new world.  You might have trouble making friends because you don’t see any peers who come from a background like yours.  You might be worried about paying for classes, and food, and room and board because you have never had to set your own budget before.  You might be feeling guilty when you call home because Mom and Dad are wondering why you didn’t get a job so you could help support their family.  Those are the kinds of obstacles these kids are facing right from day one.

 

But let’s be clear — all of that isn’t just a challenge for them.  It’s a challenge for folks like us, who are committed to helping them succeed.  And make no mistake about it, that is our mission — not simply giving speeches or raising money or hosting conferences, but to take real, meaningful action that will help our young people get into college, and more importantly, actually get their degree.

 

And here’s the good news:  Time and again you all have shown that you have the experience, the passion and the resources to help these young people thrive.  For example, in recent decades, you’ve realized that students from across the socioeconomic spectrum have been coming to campus with more and more issues like eating disorders and learning disabilities, emotional challenges like depression and anxiety, and so much more.  And luckily, you all have not shied away from these issues.  I’ve seen it.  I worked at a university.  And you haven’t said, these aren’t our problems; we’re a university, not a hospital or a counseling center.  No, you’ve stepped up.

 

And while there’s still work left to do on these issues, you’re working every day to support these kids through treatment programs and outreach initiatives and support groups, because you know that these issues have a huge impact on whether students can learn and succeed at your school.  So now, as you begin to see more and more underserved students on your campuses, we need you to direct that same energy and determination toward helping these kids face their unique challenges.

 

Now, fortunately, you’ve already got the expertise you need to address these issues.  And simply by building on what you’re already doing best, you can make real differences for these kids.  And that’s what so many of you are doing with commitments you’ve made here at this summit.

 

For example, every school offers financial aid services, but listen to what the University of Minnesota is doing.  They’re committing to expand those services to include financial literacy programs to help students and their families manage the costs of college.  And every school has advisors who desperately want their students to succeed.  Oregon Tech is committing to set up a text message program so that these advisors can connect more easily with students who need some extra encouragement or academic support.

 

And every college has orientation programs or learning communities to help students transition to college.  And many of the schools here today are supplementing those programs by partnering with organizations like the Posse Foundation so that underserved students can connect and build a social network before they even step foot on campus.  And those were the types of resources that helped a kid like me not just survive but thrive at a school like Princeton.

 

When I first arrived at school as a first-generation college student, I didn’t know anyone on campus except my brother.  I didn’t know how to pick the right classes or find the right buildings.  I didn’t even bring the right size sheets for my dorm room bed.  (Laughter.)  I didn’t realize those beds were so long.  (Laughter.)  So I was a little overwhelmed and a little isolated.

 

But then I had an opportunity to participate in a three-week, on-campus orientation program that helped me get a feel for the rhythm of college life.  And once school started, I discovered the campus cultural center, the Third World Center, where I found students and staff who came from families and communities that were similar to my own.  And they understood what I was going through.  They were there to listen when I was feeling frustrated.  They were there to answer the questions I was too embarrassed to ask anyone else.

 

And if it weren’t for those resources and the friends and the mentors, I honestly don’t know how I would have made it through college.  But instead, I graduated at the top of my class, I went to law school — and you know the rest.  (Laughter.)  So whether it’s aligning with an organization like Posse or offering a new advising or mentoring program, or creating a central space where students can connect with one another, you all can take simple steps that can determine whether these kids give up and drop out, or step up and thrive.

 

And that’s not just good for these young people, it’s good for your schools — because if you embrace and empower these students, and if you make sure they have good campus experiences, then they’re going to stay engaged with your school for decades after they graduate.  They will be dressed up in school colors at homecoming games.  They’ll be asking to serve on your committees and advisory boards.  And they’ll be doing their part when fundraising season rolls around.  (Laughter.)

 

So believe me, these will be some of the best alumni you could possibly ask for, because after everything these kids will have overcome to get into college and get through college, believe me, they will have all the skills they need to run our businesses and our labs, and to teach in our classrooms, and to lead our communities.

 

Just look at me, and look at Troy and the countless success stories from the organizations and schools represented here in this room.  That’s how we will win, this country.  We will win by tapping the full potential of all of our young people so that we can grow our economy and move this country forward.  And let me tell you that is something that my husband understands deeply, because his life story, just like mine, is rooted in education as well.  And as President, that is was drives him every single day — his goal of expanding opportunity to millions of Americans who are striving to build better futures for themselves, for their families and for our country, as well.

 

So now it is my pleasure to introduce my husband, the President of the United States, Barack Obama.  (Applause.)

 

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Remarks By the President on Expanding College Opportunity

 

Published on Jan 16, 2014

The President Speaks to leaders in postsecondary education at The Event on College Opportunity. This event is dedicated to launching a plan of action for increasing college opportunity for low-income and disadvantaged students. January 16, 2014.

 

 

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, everybody.  Everybody, please have a seat.  Have a seat.  Welcome to the White House, everybody.  And let me begin by thanking Troy and sharing his remarkable story.  I could not be more inspired by what he’s accomplished and can’t wait to see what he’s going to accomplish in the future.

 

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My wife — it’s hard to speak after her.  (Laughter and applause.)  We were in the back, and Gene Sperling, who did extraordinary work putting this whole summit together, said, “Everybody is so excited that Michelle is here.”  (Laughter.)  And I said, well, what about me?  (Laughter.)  But you should be excited, her being here, because she brings a passion and a body of experience and a passion to this issue that is extraordinary.  And I couldn’t be prouder of the work she’s already done and the work I know that she’s going to keep on doing around these issues.

 

She did leave one thing out of her speech, and that is it’s her birthday tomorrow.  (Applause.)  So I want everybody to just keep that in mind.

 

Now, we are here for one purpose:  We want to make sure more young people have the chance to earn a higher education.  And in the 21st century economy, we all understand it’s never been more important.

 

The good news is, is that our economy is steadily growing and strengthening after the worst recession in a generation.  So we’ve created more than 8 million new jobs.  Manufacturing is growing, led by a booming auto industry.  Thanks to some key public investments in advances like affordable energy and research and development, what we’ve seen is not only an energy revolution in this country that bodes well for our future, but in areas like health care, for example, we’ve slowed the growth of health care costs in ways that a lot of people wouldn’t have anticipated as recently as five or ten years ago.

 

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So there are a lot of good things going on in the economy.  And businesses are starting to invest.  In fact, what we’re seeing are businesses overseas starting to say, instead of outsourcing, let’s insource back into the U.S.

 

All that bodes well for our future.  Here’s the thing, though:  We don’t grow just for the sake of growth.  We grow so that it translates into a growing middle class, people getting jobs, people being able to support their families, and people being able to pass something on to the next generation.  We want to restore the essential promise of opportunity and upward mobility that’s at the heart of America — the notion that if you work hard, you can get ahead, you can improve your situation in life, you can make something of yourself.  The same essential story that Troy so eloquently told about himself.

 

And the fact is it’s been getting harder to do that for a lot of people.  It is harder for folks to start in one place and move up that ladder — and that was true long before the recession hit.  And that’s why I’ve said that in 2014, we have to consider this a year of action, not just to grow the economy, not just to increase GDP, not just to make sure that corporations are profitable and the stock market is doing well and the financial system is stable.  We’ve also got to make sure that that growth is broad-based and that everybody has a chance to access that growth and take advantage of it.  We’ve got to make sure that we’re creating new jobs and that the wages and benefits that go along with those jobs can support a family.  We have to make sure that there are new ladders of opportunity into the middle class, and that those ladders — the rungs on those ladders are solid and accessible for more people.

 

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Now, I’m going to be working with Congress where I can to accomplish this, but I’m also going to act on my own if Congress is deadlocked.  I’ve got a pen to take executive actions where Congress won’t, and I’ve got a telephone to rally folks around the country on this mission.

 

And today is a great example of how, without a whole bunch of new legislation, we can advance this agenda.  We’ve got philanthropists and business leaders here; we’ve got leaders of innovative non-for-profits; we’ve got college presidents — from state universities and historically black colleges to Ivy League universities and community colleges.  And today, more than 100 colleges and 40 organizations are announcing new commitments to help more young people not only go to, but graduate from college.  And that’s an extraordinary accomplishment, and we didn’t pass a bill to do it.

 

Everybody here is participating, I believe, because you know that college graduation has never been more valuable than it is today.  Unemployment for Americans with a college degree is more than a third lower than the national average.  Incomes — twice as high as those without a high school diploma.  College is not the only path to success.  We’ve got to make sure that more Americans of all age are getting the skills that they need to access the jobs that are out there right now.  But more than ever, a college degree is the surest path to a stable, middle-class life.

 

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And higher education speaks to something more than that.  The premise that we’re all created equal is the opening line in our American story.  And we don’t promise equal outcomes; we’ve strived to deliver equal opportunity — the idea that success does not depend on being born into wealth or privilege, it depends on effort and merit.  You can be born into nothing and work your way into something extraordinary.  And to a kid that goes to college, maybe like Michelle, the first in his or her family, that means everything.

 

And the fact is, is if we hadn’t made a commitment as a country to send more of our people to college, Michelle, me, maybe a few of you would not be here today.  My grandfather wasn’t rich, but when he came home from the war he got the chance to study on the GI Bill.  I grew up with a single mom.  She had me when she was 18 years old.  There are a lot of circumstances where that might have waylaid her education for good.  But there were structures in place that allowed her then to go on and get a PhD.  Michelle’s dad was a shift worker at the city water plant; mom worked as a secretary.  They didn’t go to college.  But there were structures in place that allowed Michelle to take advantage of those opportunities.

 

As Michelle mentioned, our parents and grandparents made sure we knew that we’d have to work for it, that nobody was going to hand us something, that education was not a passive enterprise — you just tip your head over and somebody pours education into your ear.  (Laughter.)  You’ve got to work for it.  And I’ve told the story of my mother — when I was living overseas, she’d wake me up before dawn to do correspondence courses in English before I went to the other school.  I wasn’t that happy about it.  (Laughter.)  But with that hard work — but also with scholarships, also with student loans, and with support programs in place — we were able to go to some of the best colleges in the country even though we didn’t have a lot of money.  Every child in America should have the same chance.

 

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So over the last five years, we’ve worked hard in a variety of ways to improve these mechanisms to get young people where they need to be and to knock down barriers that are preventing them from getting better prepared for the economies that they’re going to face.  We’ve called for clearer, higher standards in our schools — and 45 states and the District of Columbia have answered that call so far.  We’ve set a goal of training 100,000 new math and science teachers over the next 10 years, and the private sector has already committed to help train 40,000.  We’ve taken new steps to help students stay in school, and today the high school dropout rate is the lowest it has been in 40 years — something that’s rarely advertised.  The dropout rate among Hispanic students, by the way, has been cut in half over the last decade.

 

But we still have to hire more good teachers and pay them better.  We still have to do more training and development, and ensure that the curriculums are ones that maximize the chances for student success.  When young people are properly prepared in high school, we’ve got to make sure that they can afford to go to college, so we took on a student loan system that was giving billions of dollars of taxpayer dollars to big banks and we said, let’s give that money directly to students.  As a consequence, we were able to double the grant aid that goes to millions of students.  And today, more young people are earning college degrees than ever before.

 

So we’ve made progress there, but as I’ve discussed with some of you, we’re still going to have to make sure that rising tuition doesn’t price the middle class out of a college education.  The government is not going to be able to continually subsidize a system in which higher education inflation is going up faster than health care inflation.  So I’ve laid out a plan to bring down costs and make sure that students are not saddled with debt before they even start out in life.

 

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Even after all these steps that we’ve taken over the last five years, we still have a long way to go to unlock the doors of higher education to more Americans and especially lower-income Americans.  We’re going to have to make sure they’re ready to walk through those doors.  The added value of a college diploma has nearly doubled since Michelle and I were undergraduates.  Unfortunately, today only 30 percent of low-income students enroll in college right after high school and, far worse, by their mid-twenties only 9 percent earn a bachelor’s degree.

 

So if we as a nation can expand opportunity and reach out to those young people and help them not just go to college but graduate from college or university, it could have a transformative effect.  There is this huge cohort of talent that we’re not tapping.

 

Now, what this meeting today tells me is we’ve got dedicated citizens across the country who are ready to stand up and meet this challenge.  And what I want to really do is highlight some of the commitments that have been made here today.  So we know that not enough low-income students are taking the steps required to prepare for college.  That’s why I’m glad the University of Chicago, my neighbor, and the place where Michelle and I both worked in the past, is announcing a $10 million College Success Initiative that will reach 10,000 high schools over the next five years.  It’s why iMentor, a mentoring program that began 15 years ago with just 49 students in the South Bronx, has committed to matching 20,000 new students with mentoring in more than 20 states over the next five years.

 

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We also know that too many students don’t apply to the schools that are right for them.  They may sometimes underestimate where they could succeed, where they could go.  There may be a mismatch in terms of what their aspirations are and the nature of what’s offered at the school that’s close by.  And they kind of assume, well, that’s my only option.  So UVA, for example, is going experiment with new ways to contact high-achieving, low-income students directly and encourage them to apply.  Organizations like the College Board are going to work with colleges to make it easier for students to apply to more schools for free.

 

I know sometimes for those of you in university administrations, the perception may be that $100 application fees is not a big deal.  But for a lot of these students, that’s enough of a barrier that they just don’t end up applying.

 

Number three, we know that when it comes to college advising, and preparing for tests like the ACT and the SAT, low-income kids are not on a level playing field.  We call these standardized tests — they’re not standardized.  Malia and Sasha, by the time they’re in seventh grade at Sidwell School here, are already getting all kinds of advice and this and that and the other.  The degree of preparation that many of our kids here are getting in advance of actually taking this test tilts the playing field.  It’s not fair.  And it’s gotten worse.

 

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I was telling Michelle, when I was taking the SAT I just barely remembered to bring a pencil.  I mean, that’s how much preparation I did.  (Laughter.)  But the truth of the matter is, is that we don’t have a level playing field when it comes to so-called standardized tests.  So we’ve got a young man here today named Lawrence Harris who knows this better than most.  Lawrence went to the University of Georgia, and like a lot of first-generation college students it wasn’t easy for him.  He had to take remedial classes.  He had to work two part-time jobs to make ends meet.  At one point, he had to leave school for a year while he helped support his mom and his baby brother.  Those are the kinds of just day-to-day challenges that a lot of these young people with enormous talent are having to overcome.  Now, he stuck with it.  He graduated.

 

But now he’s giving back.  He’s made it his mission to help other young people like him graduate, as a college advisor at Clarke Central High School in Athens, Georgia.  And today the National College Advising Corps, the program that placed Lawrence in Clarke Central, is announcing plans to add 129 more advisors who will serve more than 80,000 students over the next three years.

 

Finally, we know that once low-income students arrive on campus — Michelle I think spoke eloquently to her own personal experience on this — they often learn that even if they were at the top of their high school class, they still have a lot of catching up to do with respect to some of their peers in the classroom.  Bunker Hill Community College is addressing this by giving more incoming students the chance to start catching up over the summer before their freshman year.  And we’ve got 22 states and the District of Columbia who have joined together in a commitment to dramatically increase the number of students who complete college-level math and English their first year.

 

So these are just a sampling of the more than 100 commitments that your organizations and colleges are making here today.  And that’s an extraordinary first step.  But we’ve got more colleges and universities than this around the country.  We’ve got more business leaders around the country and philanthropies around the country.  And so we have to think of this as just the beginning; we want to do something like this again, and we want even more colleges and universities and businesses and non-for-profits to take part.

 

For folks who are watching this who were not able be here today, we want you here next time.  Start thinking about your commitments now.  We want you to join us.  For those who were able to make commitments today, I want to thank you for doing your part to make better the life of our country — because what you’re doing here today means that there are a bunch of young people, like Troy and like Michelle and like me, who suddenly may be able to see a whole new world open up before — that they didn’t realize was there.

 

So I’ll end with a great story that I think speaks to this.  There’s a former teacher here today named Nick Ehrmann.  Where’s Nick?  So here’s Nick right here.  Five years ago, Nick founded a New York City nonprofit called Blue Engine, and they recruit recent college graduates to work as teaching assistants in public high schools that serve low-income communities, teaming up to help students build the skills they need to enter college ready for college.

 

The first group of students to work with those teaching assistants are seniors now.  One of them, Estiven Rodriguez, who also is here today — where is he?  There he is — good-looking, young guy right here.  (Laughter.)  Could not speak a word of English when he moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic at the age of nine.  Didn’t speak much more English by the time he entered sixth grade.

 

Today, with the support of a tightly knit school community, he’s one of the top students in his senior class at Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School, or WHEELS.  Last month, he and his classmates put on their WHEELS sweatshirts, unfurled a banner, waved flags and marched down the streets of Washington Heights in New York City through cheering crowds.  You would have thought it was the Macy’s parade.  (Laughter.)  But the crowds on the sidewalk were parents and teachers and neighbors.  The flags were college pennants.  The march was to the post office, where they mailed in their college applications.  (Applause.)  And Estiven just heard back — this son of a factory worker who didn’t speak much English just six years ago won a competitive scholarship to attend Dickinson College this fall.  (Applause.)

 

So everywhere you go you’ve got stories like Estiven’s and you’ve got stories like Troy’s.  But we don’t want these to be the exceptions.  We want these to be the rule.  That’s what we owe our young people and that’s what we owe this country.  We all have a stake in restoring that fundamental American idea that says:  It doesn’t matter where you start, what matters is where you end up.  And as parents and as teachers, and as business and philanthropic and political leaders — and as citizens — we’ve all got a role to play.

 

So I’m going to spend the next three years as President playing mine.  And I look forward to working with you on the same team to make this happen.  Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)

 

END
12:15 P.M. EST

 

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