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Readout of the Vice President's Call with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Press Release on March 5, 2015 | 4:32 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)

Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk about the situation in eastern Ukraine and the passage of crucial economic and governance reform legislation. The Vice President expressed condolences for the loss of life in the mine accident in Donetsk Oblast and for the casualties sustained due to artillery fire along the line of contact, and regretted the refusal of Russia-backed separatists to allow Ukrainian rescue teams access to the site of the mine accident. The Vice President congratulated Prime Minister Yatsenyuk on the passage of crucial reform legislation in the Rada that will help Ukraine return to economic health and pave the way for additional front-loaded financial support from the international community. Finally, the Vice President and Prime Minister expressed their concern regarding the refusal of Russia-backed separatists to allow for unimpeded access for OSCE monitors to the territory they control, as called for in the Minsk Implementation Plan. The two leaders also expressed their concern about continued separatist attacks against Ukrainian forces and civilian areas.

President Obama Reflects on "My Brother's Keeper"

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Video (YouTube) on March 5, 2015 | 4:18 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)
President Obama marks the one-year anniversary of his My Brother's Keeper initiative with a reflection on the progress we've made, and how much more we can accomplish.
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My Brother's Keeper Task Force: One-Year Progress Report to the President

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Press Release on March 5, 2015 | 4:16 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)

On February 27, 2014, President Barack Obama launched “My Brother’s Keeper” (MBK) and issued a powerful call to action to close opportunity gaps still faced by too many young people, and often by boys and young men of color in particular. The President’s announcement encouraged candid dialogues around the country and a greater sense of responsibility among community leaders, and young people themselves to put all youth in a position to thrive, regardless of their race, gender, or socioeconomic status. Over the course of the past year, efforts have advanced along three areas of focus based on the goals laid out in the MBK Presidential Memorandum: state and local engagement, private sector action - independent nonprofit, philanthropic and corporate action; and Public Policy review and reform. The report being released today provides an update on all three approaches over the course of a year since the MBK launch. You can find the full report HERE.

State and Local Engagement: The MBK Community Challenge
Since late September 2014, nearly 200 mayors, tribal leaders, and county executives across 43 states and the District of Columbia have accepted the MBK Community Challenge in partnership with more than 2,000 individual community-based allies. These “MBK Communities” are working with leading experts in youth and community development to design and implement cradle-to-college-and-career action plans. Within six months of accepting the Challenge, MBK Communities commit to review local public policy, host action summits, and start implementing their locally tailored action plans to address opportunity gaps. MBK Communities are provided with technical assistance to develop, implement and track plans of action from both federal agencies and independent organizations with related expertise.
 

Challenge acceptors (full list) include:

  • The nation’s five largest cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia.
  • Small cities and towns, including Prichard, AL, Berea, OH, Carlisle, PA, Holly Hill, SC, and Ranson, WV.
  • Cities with some of the highest African American populations, including Detroit, Birmingham and Washington, DC.
  • Cities with some of the highest Hispanic populations, including San Francisco, Dallas, Miami and Phoenix.
  • Seventeen Tribal Nations, including the Cherokee, Cheyenne River, Hoonah and Navajo tribal nations.
Private-Sector Action: Business, Philanthropy and Nonprofit Action
Foundations, businesses, and social enterprises have responded to the President’s call to action by taking steps to ensure that communities have the support they need and by providing funding and advice for aligned national initiatives. More than $300 million in grants and in-kind resources have been independently committed already to advance the mission of MBK, including  investments in safe and effective schools, mentoring programs, juvenile justice reforms, and school redesign. For example, the Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS) is coordinating the leaders of 63 of the largest urban school systems in the country in a pledge to change life outcomes by better serving students at every stage of their education; Prudential announced a commitment of $13 million to support technical assistance for MBK Communities as well as impact investments for innovative for-profit and nonprofit social purpose enterprises that eliminate barriers to financial and social mobility; and on Christmas Day 2014, the NBA launched a public service announcement and campaign in partnership with MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership to recruit 25,000 new mentors over the next five years.
 
Policy: The Federal Response

The MBK Task Force, an interagency working group of representatives of over ten agencies across the Federal government,  has encouraged and tracked implementation of the recommendations outlined in the initial 90-day report issued in May. Those efforts have led to greater focus on federal investments that support evidence-based interventions. For example, grant programs, like the Department of Labor’s American Apprenticeship Initiative and the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe, harness federal resources to create clearer pathways to success by helping youth build both work and life skills. Public-private partnerships like Youth Opportunity AmeriCorps, School Turnaround AmeriCorps and 21st Century Conservation Service Corps are working with the Corporation for National and Community Service to engage underserved youth in service that has the potential to transform their lives and the communities they serve. Similarly, the Departments of Education and Justice issued Correctional Education guidance to help to ensure that incarcerated youth have the full protection of existing laws and benefits. The federal government has also advanced its efforts to track quality data for boys and young men of color and their peers.

Through MBK, this Administration will continue to improve transparency and accountability to address persistent opportunity gaps at every level and improve outcomes for all young people to ensure they have the opportunity to succeed.

You can find the full report HERE - http://go.wh.gov/mADKdo

Prepared Remarks of First Lady Michelle Obama for International Women of Courage Award

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Press Release on March 5, 2015 | 11:59 am - Original Item - Comments (View)

Note: Due to inclement weather, the International Women of Courage event has been cancelled. Please see the First Lady's prepared remarks below.

Remarks of First Lady Michelle Obama
As Prepared for Delivery
International Women of Courage Award
Washington, DC
March 5th, 2015

It is such a pleasure and an honor to be here with all of you today as we celebrate this year’s International Women of Courage.  When you learn about what these ten extraordinary women have done with their lives – it just takes your breath away. 

One of our awardees is the first woman to be a fixed-wing Air Force pilot in Afghanistan’s history, and she continues to fly despite threats from the Taliban and even members of her own extended family.

Another awardee is a women’s right activist whose organization has assisted more than 30,000 survivors of sexual assault and abuse in Bolivia, and for the past 30 years, she’s helped pass nearly every women’s rights law in her country.  

These women are journalists exposing corruption and extremism; they are activists fighting armed conflict and discrimination; and one of them is a nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for her patients.  But as soon as she recovered, she went right back to work, and she now serves as a spokeswoman, raising awareness and fighting the stigma around Ebola.

Each of these women has accomplished so much and helped so many people, but as we all know, they have all paid a high price for their efforts.  They’ve lost their jobs; they’ve been beaten and jailed; they’ve faced death threats and attacks on their reputations. 

But through it all, they’ve kept on going, because for them, staying silent simply isn’t an option.  For them, turning away from the injustices they see simply isn’t possible.  You see, these women refuse to believe the false comfort that other people’s suffering isn’t their problem, and they refuse to listen to those who tell them that one person can’t possibly make a difference.  Instead, they listen to the relentless moral voice inside themselves that drives them toward justice, compassion and truth.

That is one thread that connects their stories across cultures and continents.  And while these women come from different backgrounds and are working on different issues, there is another theme that runs through so many of their lives – and that is the power of education. 

Whether they attended secondary school, or a university, or got some kind of training, for so many of these women, their education helped them discover and develop their potential – it gave them a platform on which to build their professional lives.  And they have used that platform to inspire countless others to follow their example. 

I mean, think about how many girls now dream of taking to the skies or reporting breaking news.  Think about how many Ebola survivors have been able to reclaim their lives.  Think about how many survivors of violence and discrimination have finally gotten the support and justice they deserve – all because of the women on this stage.

So really, so many of these women are living, breathing proof of the ripple effect that occurs when we believe in women and girls and we invest in their potential. 

But we all know that for each of these women of courage, there are millions of others who may never have the chance to make their mark on the world.  Today, 62 million girls worldwide are not in school – girls with boundless promise, girls who are so eager to learn, so hungry to make something of their lives, but they may never get that opportunity. 

Think about the loss that represents for our world.  Think about how many of us in this room and how many of the women on this stage wouldn’t be here today if we hadn’t gotten some kind of education.  So we all know the power of education to transform the lives of women and girls – and to transform their families, communities and countries. 

And that’s why I am so thrilled that earlier this week, the U.S. Government launched a new global girls’ education effort called Let Girls Learn.  As part of this effort, in collaboration with the Peace Corps, we’ll be supporting new, community-focused girls’ education projects across the globe. 

We’ll be drawing on the talent and energy of the nearly 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers serving in more than 60 countries worldwide, and these volunteers will be supporting hundreds of new community projects to help girls go to school and stay in school – girls’ leadership camps, girls’ mentorship programs, and so much more.  These programs will be community-generated and community-led; they’ll be based on solutions devised by local leaders, families and the girls themselves.

And I am thrilled to kick off this new initiative with a trip to Asia later this month.  I’ll be going to Japan, where I’ll be meeting with Mrs. Akie Abe, the wife of Japan’s Prime Minister, who is eager to join us in this work.  I will also travel to Cambodia, where I will be meeting with Peace Corps volunteers and visiting a school where community-driven efforts are already transforming girls’ lives. 

This work could not be more urgent or more important, because we know that every single girl on this planet has something to contribute.  Every single girl has a spark of potential that is worthy of our investment.  And there is no limit to the impact we can have when we make that investment.

I think that one of today’s awardees put it best in an interview she did with a reporter about her work to help girls in Pakistan.  Tabassum Adnan was married at the age of 13, and after enduring 20 years of brutal abuse by her husband, she finally escaped, losing her home, her children and all her money.

But Tabassum refused to be defeated.  Instead, she founded an NGO to fight back against acid attacks, honor killings and other horrific violations of women’s rights in her community.  It’s dangerous work, and progress doesn’t come easily, but Tabassum won’t give up.  As she told that reporter – and these are her words: she said “We’ve come a long way, and it won’t be easy to back off now.”

That is what all of these women of courage have done – they have gone that long way, and they have inspired so many others to join them.  They’ve built movements and created waves of momentum for justice and peace and equality – and now, because of their courage and sacrifice, it’s not so easy for the rest of us to back off or back down.  Because of brave women like them, the tide is beginning to turn for women and girls across the globe.

And I am so proud to be here today to honor these women – and I am so determined to do whatever I can as First Lady of the United States and beyond to support their efforts and give all our women and girls the chances they deserve to fulfill their promise.

So congratulations to this year’s awardees.  We are so inspired by all of you, and we look forward to all that you will continue to contribute to your countries and our world in the years ahead.

Thank you so much, and God bless.

Join an InstaMeet at the White House

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Blog Post on March 5, 2015 | 11:15 am - Original Item - Comments (View)

Calling all Instagram users: For the first time ever, the White House is joining a Worldwide InstaMeet!

On the weekend of March 21, people all over the world will meet up and take photos together as part of the 11th Worldwide InstaMeet. To celebrate, we’re inviting some of our Instagram followers to filter their way through the White House and share its history, art, and architecture with their followers.

Here's what you need to know:

  • We're hosting an InstaMeet at the White House on Saturday, March 21.
  • Right now, you can apply to join at WhiteHouse.gov/social. (Don't wait! The form closes at 6 p.m. ET on Friday, March 6.)
  • Spread the word using #WHInstaMeet.

President Obama and the First Lady are committed to opening the doors of the White House and truly making it the "People’s House." Our InstaMeet continues a series of online and offline engagement events that invite citizens around the country to engage with their government.

Apply to join our InstaMeet on March 21, then follow our official accounts: @WhiteHouse, @MichelleObama, and the Chief Official White House Photographer @PeteSouza.

Statement by the President on the 45th Anniversary of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Press Release on March 5, 2015 | 9:21 am - Original Item - Comments (View)

Forty-five years ago today the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty entered into force.  At the time that the treaty was signed, it was widely predicted that dozens of countries would develop nuclear weapons, a prospect that threatened to disrupt global stability and security.  Instead, thanks to worldwide collective efforts and commitment, the NPT has become the cornerstone of the nuclear nonproliferation regime, reinforcing international peace and security, and preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons while promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  Today, global nuclear stockpiles are at their lowest levels since the 1950s.

As I stated in Prague in 2009, reinforced in Berlin in 2013, and again reaffirmed last month in my National Security Strategy, the United States seeks the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.  We encourage all states to strengthen the NPT as a basis for international cooperation to achieve that shared goal.  The NPT remains essential today, and our efforts to achieve nuclear disarmament cannot succeed unless we stand together to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and work for full compliance with the NPT.  Our commitment to non-proliferation is at the center of our efforts, along with our P5+1 partners, to reach a diplomatic agreement that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and ensures that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful.

The United States is meeting its NPT obligations and is committed to further strengthening the nonproliferation regime.  During my Administration, the United States has reduced the role nuclear weapons play in our security and reduced the size of our arsenal.  Earlier this year we marked the fourth anniversary of the entry into force of the New START Treaty.  Under New START and in conformity with our NPT obligations, we are reducing our strategic nuclear weapon stockpile to the lowest levels in more than a half century, and we are prepared to negotiate further reductions, while protecting our security and that of our friends and allies around the world. 

We can only realize the full benefits of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy to advance development and protect the environment if we are confident that civil nuclear energy will not be diverted for weapons.  For that, we depend on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to promote the safe, secure uses of nuclear energy and to ensure that it remains exclusively peaceful. As we prepare for the Ninth Review Conference of the NPT, the United States stands ready to work with other NPT Parties to achieve a successful outcome that reinforces the vitality of this Treaty which is so fundamental to global security.

Why Good Trade Deals Matter to a Business Like Mine:

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Blog Post on March 4, 2015 | 7:18 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)

Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the co-founder of The Pro's Closet, an online used-cycling business. He sent the following email to the White House list to highlight why a better trade deal means a brighter future for online businesses like his. Didn't get the email? Sign up for email updates here

The Trans-Pacific Partnership isn't just President Obama's proposed trade deal -- it's mine, too. It's a trade deal that millions of other online small business owners in this country would be proud to add their name to. I want to tell you why:

Every time I step through the doors of one of our 4,000-square-foot warehouses in Boulder and Denver, Colorado -- every time I see the bikes and cycling parts that line those walls and take in the energetic buzz of our 30-member team -- I take a step back and reflect on a simple fact: I own a business. It’s a "pinch-me" moment -- every time.

I am a cyclist and the proud co-owner of The Pro's Closet, an online used-cycling store. And thanks to the Internet and the availability of e-commerce platforms like eBay, we've gone global. After all, when it’s not cycling season in the U.S., it’s peak season somewhere else in the world.

International customers aren't just good for business abroad; they’re great for my Colorado communities. Why? Because selling in more markets means I can hire more people here at home. In fact, more small businesses are using the Internet to grow their business by reaching new customers they couldn't reach before.

This is why trade is so important to me. If the success of American businesses in the global economy is important to you, say you’re an ambassador for a better trade deal that delivers a brighter future for all of us.

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3/4/15: White House Press Briefing

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Video (YouTube) on March 4, 2015 | 6:49 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)
White House Press Briefings are conducted most weekdays from the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in the West Wing.
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When Women Succeed, the World Succeeds: What They're Saying About the Let Girls Learn Initiative

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Blog Post on March 4, 2015 | 6:01 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)

President Obama and the First Lady have teamed up with the Peace Corps to expand access to education for adolescent girls around the world through the Let Girls Learn initiative.

“A good education can lift you from the most humble circumstances into a life you never could have imagined.” 

— First Lady Michelle Obama

70% of the 1 billion people living in extreme poverty are women. Education can change that.

Education is not a privilege, it is a fundamental human right for all. Through a global network of support, the Let Girls Learn initiative will put lasting community-led and community-generated solutions in place for the more than 62 million girls across the globe are not receiving an education. The Peace Corps will be expanding the number of volunteers focused on advancing universal access to education and will continue to break down the barriers to girls' education in the communities they serve.

The positive effects that an education has not just for girls, but also for their families, communities and countries are boundless. As a global community, we are making progress. While we don’t yet live in a world where every women has an opportunity to learn, we do have numbers telling us why we need too.

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When Women Succeed, the World Succeeds: What They're Saying About The Let Girls Learn Initiative

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Blog Post on March 4, 2015 | 6:01 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)

President Obama and The First Lady have teamed up with the Peace Corps to expand access to education for adolescent girls around the world through the Let Girls Learn initiative.

“A good education can lift you from the most humble circumstances into a life you never could have imagined.” 

— First Lady Michelle Obama

70% of the 1 billion people living in extreme poverty are women. Education can change that.

Education is not a privilege, it is a fundamental human right for all. Through a global network of support, the Let Girls Learn initiative will put lasting community-led and community-generated solutions in place for the more than 62 million girls across the globe are not receiving an education. The Peace Corps will be expanding the number of volunteers focused on advancing universal access to education and will continue to break down the barriers to girls' education in the communities they serve.

The positive effects that an education has not just for girls, but also for their families, communities and countries are boundless. As a global community, we are making progress. While we don’t yet live in a world where every women has an opportunity to learn, we do have numbers telling us why we need too.

read more

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