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Chicago Sun-Times: South Side youths get surprise visit from President Obama

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South Side youths get surprise visit from President Obama

By Maudlyne Ihejirika
July 16, 2019

A group of about a dozen South Side youth participating in a job corps program got an unexpected surprise Tuesday when President Barack Obama popped in on them during their visit to The Obama Foundation.

Former President Barack Obama surprised a group of South Side teens participating in the Obama Youth Jobs Corps program with a visit, sitting down to chat and listening as they shared their experiences, at the Obama Foundation offices in Chicago on Tuesday, July 16, 2019. Provided by The Obama Foundation

The former president sat down for a chat with the teens, participants in the Obama Youth Jobs Corps, a workforce-readiness partnership between his foundation and a national nonprofit youth development organization, Urban Alliance.

Obama spoke about the importance of job-training programs to creating opportunities for young people across Chicago, answering many questions from the teens and listening as they shared their experiences.

“Part of the goal of this program is to expose you to what’s possible,” Obama said.

“Everybody here has already shown extraordinary talent and initiative. All of you all are focused in a way that I can’t say I necessarily was when I was your age. So you guys are already ahead of the game,” he continued.

“Part of our goal is also to make sure that you recognize that even as you succeed, that the communities from which you come are going to need you to be active and involved and engaged and focused. Because all of us, as citizens and generally, have an obligation to make sure that we’re tending to the city we live in.”

The teens had come to the foundation offices to meet with Chief Engagement Officer Michael Strautmanis. Launched last year, the job corps program plans to bring year-long workforce-readiness training and internships to high school sophomores, juniors and seniors on Chicago’s South Side over the next five years.