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Obama, Michelle unveil Obama Center designs today in Chicago

First lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama watch the musical performances at the 2016 National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the Ellipse near the White House in Washington on Dec. 1, 2016. | Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

WASHINGTON — Hours before former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle unveil a model of their Obama Center Wednesday in Chicago, Mrs. Obama threw a spotlight on her girls education work in the wake of the Trump administration dropping her “Let Girls Learn” brand on one of her signature initiatives.

“Excited by the potential of the Obama Pres. Center. Barack & I will continue to champion the issues close to our hearts, including girls ed.,” Michelle Obama said in a morning Twitter post.

Obama will discuss, for the first time in public, details about his vision for his museum, library and event space. The event, at the South Shore Cultural Center, will be before an audience of several hundred invited guests and start at 12:45 p.m. Chicago time. Watch the live stream HERE.

Both Obamas have been working on plans for some time to continue and nourish in the post-presidency years programs they developed in the past eight years in the White House.

Mrs. Obama’s long term planners had figured that her “Let Girls Learn” program could gain a measure of protection by becoming tethered to the Peace Corps. On Monday, CNN reported that the interim Peace Corps director said in a memo, “Moving forward, we will not continue to use the ‘Let Girls Learn’ brand or maintain a stand-alone program.”

The Obama Center, to be constructed in Jackson Park, will be the hub of the Obamas’ future work on issues and causes.

The Sun-Times has learned that the general plans for the Center, plus a conceptual model and some drawings have already been shown to Obama Foundation insiders.

The Obama Center architects, the husband-and-wife team of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien will be at the unveiling. They have been working on the project, to be one of their most significant commissions, since they were appointed last June.

This evening, Obama discusses his Center and his two-terms in the White House in a closed-to-the press dinner before Chicago’s wealthy and civic elite, the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago.

The dinner will take place at The Chicago Club, 81 E. Van Buren. Obama’s speech was not publicly announced by either the Obama Foundation or his post-presidential office. Obama has come under some criticism for taking a $400,000 speaking engagement later this year. An Obama source told the Sun-Times Obama is not charging for his appearance before the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago.

In this case, it’s the other way around – Obama will be delivering a speech to potential mega-donors to his foundation.

The board of Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago is made up of Chicago’s wealthy civic elite, people the Obamas are cultivating to become multimillion-dollar contributors for the Obama Center.

Obama will need to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to build and endow the Obama Center.

While Obama has made two previous visits to Chicago since leaving office on Jan. 20 — the latest last week — Michelle Obama is returning to her native South Side for the first time since the Obama’s moved out of the White House.

The South Shore Cultural Center event is hosted by the Obama Foundation, headquartered in Hyde Park with a growing branch office in Washington.The Obamas held their wedding reception at the South Shore Cultural Center, which sits on the shore of Lake Michigan.

The Foundation, chaired by Obama buddy Marty Nesbitt, is overseeing the design, development and fundraising for the Obama Center and its related programming activities, potentially around the globe.

“The Obama Foundation is a living, working start-up for citizenship — an ongoing project for us to shape, together, what it means to be a good citizen in the 21st century. The Foundation is based on the South Side of Chicago, and we will have projects all over the city, the country, and the world,” a foundation mission statement says.