The Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University brings together rising leaders from 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. A cornerstone of the program is a required course, which runs the length of the academic year. Scholars also have an opportunity to select and enroll in additional courses offered by Columbia University that are relevant to their specific field or values-based leadership, or that fill in gaps in their previous studies.
Scholars also participate in workshops to develop practical skills to enhance the impact of their work. Previous workshop topics include conflict management and resolution, public speaking, data analysis and interpretation, and resilience. The program takes advantage of the unique opportunities that come with being at one of the world’s most important centers of research and with being in the City of New York. Throughout the year, Scholars have opportunities to engage with thought leaders and practitioners from public, private and nonprofit sectors.
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 with Obama Foundation Scholars at the University of Chicago.
“We are proud to be a partner with the Obama Foundation in launching the Obama Foundation Scholars at Columbia to advance our shared mission of developing leaders who are not only dedicated to making a difference but also have the intellectual and practical skills to turn their ideas into action.”
– 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.
The application for the 2020-2021 cohort of the Obama Foundation Scholars Program is now closed. Please check back for more information on the application for the 2021-2022 Columbia University Obama Scholars program.