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Posts Tagged ‘President Obama’

Less than a year into his first term as President of the United States, Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Citing his work to bring peace to the Middle East, put an end to nuclear armament, and promote religious harmony around the world, the Nobel committee chose Obama for this year’s prize out of a pool of many distinguished nominees. Obama spoke in the Rose Garden this morning and said he was “both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee.” Saying he felt undeserved of the award, he agreed to accept it as a “a call to action, a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.”

To read more about the award and to listen to President Obama’s speech, check out this story in the New York Times. You can also watch the speech below.

To listen to past World Affairs Council programs featuring Nobel Peace Prize laureates, including Wangari Maathai (2004) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), visit our audio archive and search for “Nobel.”

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Ahead of a very busy week at the United Nations, President Barack Obama met yesterday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. President Obama said, “My message to these two leaders is clear. Despite all the obstacles, despite all the history, despite all the mistrust, we have to find a way forward.” To read more about the President’s meeting, check out this article from the The New York Times.

Offering San Francisco the opportunity to join in this discussion first-hand, the World Affairs Council will be hosting leaders from both Israel and Palestine next month. Join us on October 22 to hear former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and on October 27 for a program with Maen Areikat, the Chief PLO Representative to the United States.

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President Obama will present the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom to 16 recipients tomorrow, Wednesday, August 12. Three of this year’s awardees were speakers at the World Affairs Council and the Global Philanthropy Forum in 2008: former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Muhammad Yunus.

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President Obama’s speech in Cairo today clearly outlines a shift in US foreign policy toward the Middle East – a shift about which many are hopeful, and others wary.  Last week, Stephen Stedman, Senior Fellow of the Center for International Security & Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University, joined us to discuss the opportunity that President Obama has to rethink US foreign policy, and the implications it could have for cooperation in safeguarding our common resources and tackling shared threats.  Listen to the full audio program here.

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Yesterday, the U.S. House passed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.  Following Senate passage of the same language last week, this means the bill will now be sent to President Obama so that he can sign it into law.

Unfortunately, the bill does not contain language creating a Commission on Cross-Sector Solution, as we mistakenly reported last week.  It does, however, include a new Social Innovation Funds Pilot Project, through which the Corporation for National Service will award grants to local programs.  We are pleased to see that Congress appreciates the valuable contributions of social entrepreneurs and also understands the need to measure the effectiveness of programs so that philanthropists can identify and fund the kinds of programs that work.  Here are the congressional findings related to this program, along with its stated purpose:

(a) Findings.–Congress finds the following:

(1) Social entrepreneurs and other nonprofit community organizations are developing innovative and effective solutions to national and local challenges.

(2) Increased public and private investment in replicating and expanding proven effective solutions, and supporting new solutions, developed by social entrepreneurs and other nonprofit community organizations could allow those entrepreneurs and organizations to replicate and expand proven initiatives, and support new initiatives, in communities.

(3) A network of Social Innovation Funds could leverage Federal investments to increase State, local, business, and philanthropic resources to replicate and expand proven solutions and invest in supporting new innovations to tackle specific identified community challenges.

(b) Purposes.–The purposes of this section are–

(1) to recognize and increase the impact of social entrepreneurs and other nonprofit community organizations in tackling national and local challenges;

(2) to stimulate the development of a network of Social Innovation Funds that will increase private and public investment in nonprofit community organizations that are effectively addressing national and local challenges to allow such organizations to replicate and expand proven initiatives or support new initiatives;

(3) to assess the effectiveness of such Funds in–

(A) leveraging Federal investments to increase State, local, business, and philanthropic resources to address national and local challenges;

(B) providing resources to replicate and expand effective initiatives; and

(C) seeding experimental initiatives focused on improving outcomes in the areas described in subsection (f)(3); and

(4) to strengthen the infrastructure to identify, invest in, replicate, and expand initiatives with effective solutions to national and local challenges.

With respect to the evaluation component, the bill included language allowing the Corporation to dedicate up to 5 percent of the funds available to the program “to support, directly or through contract with an independent entity, research and evaluation activities to evaluate the eligible entities and community organizations receiving grants … and the initiatives supported by the grants.”

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Word on the blogs the past two days (and confirmed today by the Green for All website) is that Van Jones, Founding President of Green for All and senior fellow with the Center for American Progress, has accepted the position of Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).  A post on Change.org notes that the green jobs movement has already received a boost from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (otherwise known as the economic stimulus package), which “contains around $20 billion in clean energy funding and other “green” measures, and includes a $500 million line item for green jobs training.”

In a panel c0-chaired by our CEO & President Jane Wales at the Clinton Global Initiative this past fall, Van Jones spoke about the intersection of poverty and climate change – a core component of his work.  He emphasized the economic opportunities for poor urban communities in the United States that will arise as we transform our urban centers into green cities – that millions of jobs can be created in adapting both our building and transport infrastructure.

It is this optimistic message of hope that has the most salience with the poor.

Watch Van Jones speak at CGI here, and watch the video below for a quick look at the green jobs movement taking hold everywhere from the South Bronx  to Los Angeles.

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At this year’s Global Philanthropy Forum annual conference, we will be exploring ways that foundations and the non-profit sector can work with government and the Obama administration to address domestic and international crises. Rick Cohen, at The Cohen Report, recently provided an excellent summary of existing proposals from some leading organizations and thinkers in the field. If you are curious about how the Obama administration might work with the social sector – for example, will he create a White House Office of Social Entrepreneurship? – we suggest you check it out.

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