WASHINGTON — Expanding its portfolio, the Obama Foundation is launching a scholarship program with the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy for emerging leaders and will be spending $4 million to reduce youth violence — with $1 million earmarked for Chicago.
The Wednesday announcement about the “Obama Foundation Scholars Program” was made the day after former President Barack Obama made a surprise visit to a community meeting at McCormick Place where he tried to ease community concerns over development of the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park — and whether it will trigger gentrification and drive up rents.
My analysis at-a-glance: Obama’s argument summed up is that development on the South Side is so far behind people won’t feel the impact for a long time.
It’s a problem, Obama said, that “Malia’s kids might have to worry about.”
Obama did mention the need for affordable housing. Let’s see how this develops . . .
On other fronts:
OBAMA FOUNDATION AND THE U. OF CHICAGO: Obama, former first lady Michelle and many in their close orbit have strong ties to the U. of Chicago. And the school led the charge to have the Obama Presidential Center land on Chicago’s South Side. So it is no surprise that the foundation’s new academic component is at the U. of Chicago.
It is not unusual for modern day former presidents to establish academic centers.
The Bush School of Government and Public Service is at the Texas A&M University, the location of former President George H.W. Bush’s presidential center and library.
The University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service is next to the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock.
The Obama Foundation model at this stage: Working with the Harris School of Public Policy on a graduate program — with students from around the globe — to kick off next fall. Applications are due on April 10.
The foundation will pay the expenses of about 25 students — that includes the $47,340-a-year tuition plus housing and travel costs.
The U. of Chicago will be in charge of the academic curriculum and academic admissions. The students will earn a master’s degree in International Development and Planning.
The students will also take part in a variety of foundation leadership skills development programs outside the classroom: internships, events in New York and Washington and “experiences” on the South Side and the rest of Chicago.
MY BROTHER’S KEEPER ALLIANCE: Obama’s legacy program for at-risk young men of color was launched on Feb. 27, 2014, at the White House. Eventually its offshoot, the MBK Alliance, merged with the Obama Foundation.
The foundation in March will be releasing details for community organizations to seek grants — up to $500,000 — for initiatives to assist “boys and young men of color, particularly as it relates to reducing youth violence and growing the pipeline of mentors working on impactful programs.”
The foundation’s MBK Alliance will be spending about $4 million nationwide, with more than $1 million set aside for Chicago. Chicago nonprofits will be able to compete for $50,000 “mini-grants.” The foundation said the “mission” of My Brother’s Keeper in Chicago will be a “permanent priority.”