Barack Obama, organizations

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Template:ObamaBox Template:TOCnestleft President Barack Obama's involvement with other organizations.

Organizing in Chicago

As a community organizer, Obama tried to turn a partnership of churches into a political force on the South Side. But he accomplished little.[1]

When I started organizing, I understood the idea of social change in a very abstract way...It was to some extent informed by my years in Indonesia, seeing extreme poverty and disparities of wealth and understanding sort of in a dim way that life wasn’t fair and government had something to do with it. I understood the role that issues like race played and took inspiration from the civil-rights movement and what the student sit-ins had accomplished and the freedom rides.
But I didn’t come out of a political family, didn’t have a history of activism in my family. So I understood these things in the abstract. When I went to Chicago, it was the first time that I had the opportunity to test out my ideas. And for the most part I would say I wasn’t wildly successful. The victories that we achieved were extraordinarily modest: you know, getting a job-training site set up or getting an after-school program for young people put in place.

Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland

In 1993, after finishing work with Project Vote, Obama took a job at Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, a boutique civil-rights firm led by Judson Miner, formerly counsel to Harold Washington.

Miner had perfect anti-Daley credentials, routinely filing lawsuits against the city, and was a founding member of the Chicago Council of Lawyers, which was to Chicago’s legal élite what the Independents were to the Democratic machine.

Working at Davis, Miner enhanced Obama’s profile. “When you go work for Judd Miner’s law firm, that’s another kind of political statement,” says Don Rose, a longtime Chicago political consultant.[2]

Obama was cautious about joining his law firm. According to Miner it took “a series of lunches” and hours of discussion before Obama made his decision.[2]

Annenberg Challenge

In 1995 Obama was the founding President of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and served as Chairman of the Board of Directors from 1995–1999. According to CNS news, during that time[3];

As chairman, Obama oversaw the disbursement of $49.2 million in Annenberg grants, most of which went to non-profit groups with the stated intent of improving Chicago’s public schools.
Since the start of his political career, Obama has received a total of $331,528 in campaign contributions from people who served as staff and board members of non-profit groups that received grants from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC).
In 2005 and 2006, board members and staff of non-profit groups that had received grants from CAC gave another $34,500 to the Hope Fund, Obama’s federal political action committee.
A review of publicly available IRS 990 forms for the years 1998 through 2002, shows that Annenberg grants went to 94 different projects during that period. The CAC grants required a 2-1 match, with the other two parts coming from other public and private sources, so a total of $147 million in grants were made as consequence of the CAC program over its 6-year lifespan, although only $49.2 million was issued directly by the CAC to grant recipients.
Through the course of Obama’s political career, 91 people who served at some time as staff or a board member for one of the groups that received CAC money also contributed money at some time to one of Obama’s political campaigns, which include his runs for the state Senate, the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Senate and the presidency.


Community Organizing and Family Issues is a Chicago based non-profit. COFI Sponsoring Committee -1994-95 members included Pastor Alvin Bergh, Lina Cramer, Barbara Engel, Jacky Grimshaw, Anne Hallett, Judy Hertz, Maria Mangual, Della Mitchell, Barack Obama, Elce Redmond, Amanda Rivera, Mary Scott-Boria, John Schmidt, Coretta McFerron, Kaye Wilson, Ellen Schumer, Founding Director and President, Nancy Aardema, Founding Vice-President, Sandra O’Donnell, Founding Vice-President[4].


In 2003, both Michelle Obama and Barack Obama were members of Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization:[5]

The organisation endorsed Obama during his 2004 U.S. Senate race

Independent Voters of Illinois was set up to campaign for endorsed candidates-especially "progressive" candidates. w

The government took an interest in IVI as far back as 1944, over quite justified allegations of communist infiltration[6].

In 1944 the FBI prepared a more extensive intelligence report on an active political group, the Independent Voters of Illinois, apparently because it was the target of Communist "infiltration." The Independent Voters group was reported to have been formed;
"...for the purpose of developing neighborhood political units to help in the re-election of President Roosevelt and the election of progressive congressmen. Apparently, IVI endorsed or aided Democrats for the most part, although it was stated to be "independent."

Prominent IVI and later IVI-IPO activists included Communist Party USA member Milton Cohen, and Socialist Party USA members Timuel Black Saul Mendelson.

In July 2004 IVI-IPO celebrated its 60th anniversary. Members of the event committee included[7];

Democratic Socialists of America and Committees of Correspondence member Timuel Black, Socialist Party USA veteran Leon Despres DSA and Progressives for Obama member Betty Willhoite, David Orr, Carol Moseley Braun, one time Communist Party USA member David Canter and Barack Obama.

Hamilton Project

According to Democratic Socialists of America member and sociologist Robert Fitch, in 2006, Robert Rubin organized a fundraiser with a couple of dozen leaders of the shadow banking industry. Each threw in a little over $100,000 – "basically parking space money". His recruits included Howard Berkowitz of BlackRock, which handled the disposal of bad Bear Stearns assets; Quadrangle’s Steve Rattner, later now under investigation for bribery; and Roger Altman of Evergreen Partners, who served as Undersecretary of the Treasury under Clinton.

It was Altman who brought then- Sen. Barack Obama into the Hamilton Project. At Hamilton’s inaugural event, in the spring of 2006, Obama was the featured speaker. His remarks were brief, but not ceremonial or superficial. He showed recognition of Rubinesque parameters about entitlements and deficits. And perhaps most important, he presented himself to the assembled hedge fund hotshots as a man of the Left who recognized the futility of the Left’s adherence to New Deal programs, which he admitted had long ago lost their justification – “as they were written.”

The Hamilton Project has since had several top staff joining Obama’s circle. Peter Orszag, the first director of the Hamilton Project, later headed the Office of Management and Budget. He was replaced by Jason Furman, who was then pressed into service as the Obama campaign’s chief economic spokesperson. Furman was later the No. 2 official on the National Economic Council. Jason Bordoff, Hamilton’s policy director, served as an Obama campaign surrogate. Doug Elmendorf, who replaced Furman, went on to serve as head of the Congressional Budget Office.[8]

Crossroads Fund

In 2007, Barack Obama was an honorary host for the 25th Anniversary of the Crossroads Fund.[9] The fund, founded in 1981 supports community organizations working on "issues of social and economic justice" in the Chicago area.


Originally called PAC+, PowerPAC+ is a political action committee formed in 2012 to build the political power of America’s multiracial majority. It emerged from the groundbreaking work of Vote Hope in 2007-08. At that time, then-Senator Barack Obama was assembling his Presidential campaign and California’s primary moved from June to a more influential month, February. "We created Vote Hope, the first super-PAC aimed at supporting Barack Obama’s bid for president. Vote Hope was the largest independent effort in the nation to increase voter turnout in communities of color. It drew in $10 million, and expanded to 18 states during the primary season".

After President Obama’s election, "we set up a DC office and worked closely with the administration’s personnel staff" to build a Diversity Talent Bank that the White House used to identify and hire more than 60 people including Associate Attorney General Tony West. During that same period, many in our network became leaders in non-profits, philanthropy, and government such as Vote Hope fundraiser and former board member Benjamin Jealous who became NAACP president".

In 2009, "we convened" the leadership of the largest civil rights groups in the country and helped execute a media campaign targeting senators who were wavering on the health care reform bill. That effort led to the creation of a coalition of labor, civil rights, and progressive groups who conducted the One Nation Working Together 10/2/10 March on Washington.

Since then, PowerPAC+ has consulted with the leadership of the Democratic Party, organizations and campaigns about how to best build support in the communities of color.[10]

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