President Barack Obama with Oregon National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, Air Force Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, and Anthony Sadler, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015, to honor them for heroically subduing a gunman on a Paris-bound passenger train last month
First Lady Michelle Obama greets students at Howard Community College in Columbia, Md as part of her ‘Reach Higher’ initiative
Noah McQueen used to spend more time fighting and getting arrested than getting good grades and listening to advice. He changed households and public schools 10 times before he landed at the Maryland Juvenile Justice Cheltenham Youth Center. But times have changed. “Do you need a ride back to the White House?” a presidential aide asked McQueen, 19, as he stood inside Eddie’s Hair Design in Adams Morgan on a recent day. “No, I have my own car now,” he responded. McQueen didn’t need a barber; he had a fresh haircut. He was there to work. McQueen was there with Broderick Johnson, head of the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, to be a role model to students from Marie Reed Elementary School.
The initiative was launched last year to improve educational and job opportunities for young men of color. White House officials, including President Obama, have worked hard to help McQueen. His life changed three years ago, when, as a student at Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School in Upper Marlboro, he began mentoring children at nearby Barack Obama Elementary. “I get choked up . . . when I think about where I was,” McQueen said as he reflected on a troubled childhood that included several suspensions, arrests and other run-ins with the law. Now McQueen is a freshman at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He graduated in May from Wise, where he finished with a 3.25 grade-point average even though his freshman and sophomore years were academic disasters.
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of legendary civil rights activist Julian Bond, SPLC’s first president. He was 75 years old and died last evening, August 15, in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. From his days as the co-founder and communications director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s to his chairmanship of the NAACP in the 21st century,
Julian was a visionary and tireless champion for civil and human rights. He served as the SPLC’s president from our founding in 1971 to 1979, and later as a member of its board of directors. With Julian’s passing, the country has lost one of its most passionate and eloquent voices for the cause of justice. He advocated not just for African Americans, but for every group, indeed every person subject to oppression and discrimination, because he recognized the common humanity in us all
The Obama administration plans to restore federal funding for prison inmates to take college courses. The plan would allow potentially thousands of inmates in the U.S. to gain access to Pell grants, the main form of federal aid for low-income college students. The grants cover up to $5,775 a year in tuition, fees, books and other education-related expenses. Prisoners received $34 million in Pell grants in 1993, according to figures the Department of Education provided to Congress at the time.
But a year later, Congress prohibited state and federal prison inmates from getting Pell grants as part of broad anticrime legislation, leading to a sharp drop in the number of in-prison college programs. Between the mid-1990s and 2013, the U.S. prison population doubled to about 1.6 million inmates, many of them repeat offenders, Justice Department figures show. A 2013 study by the Rand Corp. found that inmates who participated in education programs, including college courses, had significantly lower odds of returning to prison than inmates who didn’t.
President Barack Obama has breakfast with small business owners at Rausch’s Cafe in Guttenberg, Iowa, during a three-day bus tour in the Midwest, Aug.16, 2011. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama signs H.R. 2097, the Star-Spangled Banner Commemorative Coin Act, at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, Aug. 16, 2010. Photo by Pete Souza
Television microphones hang in the air as the media listens in while a Park Ranger explains the site to President Barack Obama and family during a tour of the Grand Canyon on Aug. 16, 2009. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama looks at the Grand Canyon in Arizona on Aug. 16, 2009. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama talks with people at Grasshoppers store in LeClaire, Iowa, Aug. 16, 2011, during a three-day bus tour in the Midwest. Photo by Pete Souza
First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a discussion on higher education in the East Room of the White House. The First Lady hosted the 2015 Beating the Odds Summit to recognize youths who have overcome substantial obstacles to persist through high school and make it to college, as part of the “Reach Higher” initiative
Michelle Obama is nothing if not gracious. Since moving to the White House in 2009 following her husband Barack Obama’s presidential election win in 2008, the Chicago native has used her mantle as the First Lady to fight for military families, children’s health and young people’s pursuit of education. Her charm, intellect and warm personality have created a collaborative environment where politics are left at the door and people connect to get things done.
Do you find yourself being more ambitious about your designs to help young people now more than any other point in your life, and why?
I’ve always said that the role of First Lady comes with this big bright light that follows you wherever you go, and you have the privilege—and the responsibility—to shine that light on important issues and tell the stories that too often go untold. So I do find myself being especially ambitious right now, especially because so many of the issues I work on are deeply personal to me.
"I wouldn't be where I am today without education." —The First Lady to students who are beating the odds to go to college #ReachHigher
A perfect example is my Reach Higher initiative, an effort to inspire young people to continue their education past high school. My parents didn’t have college degrees, and while they loved and supported me, they really couldn’t help me with things like standardized tests and financial aid forms. So I often had to figure stuff out on my own, and I didn’t always get it right (I actually applied to one college simply because I liked the pictures in the brochure). And today, I have a chance to reach back and help young people struggling with these exact same challenges, and I intend to use my time as First Lady and beyond to do everything I can to empower them so they can fulfill their dreams.