The Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University brings together rising leaders from the United States and around the world who have demonstrated a commitment to finding solutions to challenges in their communities, countries, and regions. Over the course of an academic year, the Obama Foundation Scholars have the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and skills and to build new capacities and networks that accelerate their impact in their home countries.
Scholars participate in an immersive program that brings together academic, skills-based and experiential learning, designed by Columbia University in consultation with the Obama Foundation. Key components of the program include:
- A Weekly Seminar that runs the length of the academic year, exploring questions in tandem with key global trends including inequality, technological developments, the diffusion of power, population movements, and climate change.
- Personal and Professional Development Workshops designed to strengthen practical skills to enhance Scholars’ ability to lead. Previous workshop topics include conflict management and resolution, public speaking, data analysis and interpretation, and resilience.
- An Experiential Learning component that engages Scholars in the work of Columbia World Projects.
- Audited Coursework that provides Scholars with the flexibility to select and enroll in up to two graduate level courses each semester at Columbia.
- A Thought Leadership Speaker Series that introduces Scholars to seasoned practitioners from the NGO community, philanthropy, government, and international organizations to expand Scholars’ networks and perspectives to help advance their work.
- Partnership with a Columbia faculty adviser selected for their subject matter expertise to provide Scholars with new insights and perspectives to inform Scholars’ work.
- Meaningful opportunities for Scholars to contribute to the intellectual life of the campus and gain exposure to different perspectives by engaging with the Columbia University community.
Scholars participate in one-of-a-kind experiences led by the Obama Foundation, including robust networking, mentorship, service activities, and values-based leadership development. These experiences enable Scholars to learn from some of the world’s most innovative leaders and to build connections with the Obama Foundation and other leaders in the Foundation’s global network.
“Witnessing, over the past two years, the powerful impact of this program on the remarkable individuals participating as Obama Scholars, and the communities they are dedicated to changing, has left Columbia even more deeply invested in this special endeavor and all that it can accomplish.”
– Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger
Obama Foundation Scholars reside at Columbia World Projects. This new initiative aims to systematically bring university research out into the world through projects that have a significant and lasting positive impact on people’s lives and that help guide the way to solutions to intractable problems, while enriching research and scholarship. Scholars participate in CWP activities during the academic year.
Upon completion of the program, Obama Foundation Scholars, empowered by their experience, return to the regions where they have been working and continue along a path of service. The purpose of the program is to help Obama Foundation Scholars take the connections and skills they acquire during the program and apply them for the benefit of their communities, countries, and regions. Obama Foundation Scholars are expected to remain engaged with the Obama Foundation after the conclusion of the program.