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Finding Inspiration in the Champions of Change

by Jon Carson

This article originally appeared on the White House Blog on Aug. 7, 2012.

Earlier this year, President Obama celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Champions of Change program by bringing together a group of Champions to hear about the work they are doing to advance their communities.

The White House created the Champions of Change program to identify and engage everyday Americans who are leading extraordinary initiatives to strengthen their communities. Their work spans across areas such as renewable energy, innovative technology, youth and domestic violence, immigration integration, infrastructure, education, equal rights, and healthcare. This program recognizes their successes and efforts toward the development of – and diplomacy with – their communities. In sharing the incredible stories of these Champions, I hope others find in them a source of inspiration and innovation as I have. Check out this video for a quick snapshot of the program:

Since the program started, the White House has hosted a series of memorable events honoring over 500 Champions from all 50 states. Last fall, we launched the Campus Champions of Change Campus Challenge in which the public chose the top five projects that best illustrate the President's goal to win the future. Short features about their projects are highlighted on

Last Tuesday, we held our 54th Champions event with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and brought together 14 Champions who are creating change within the world of transportation in their respective neighborhoods. Bob Sloane formed WalkBoston, the first pedestrian advocacy group in America, which created an easy to read map showing timed walking routes to encourage more people to walk. The popularity of these maps spread quickly and similar maps have been prepared for dozens of other communities.A passion for sustainable energy led Veronica Davis to start the BlackWomenBike as a Twitter hashtag, which then turned into a movement to build a community of women who bike in Washington, DC. For Jason Roberts, it was the moment he asked himself, “Wait a second, who am I waiting for to fix these problems?” that prompted him to begin his first Better Block project. Now over 30 cities across the country have created their own Better Block projects in an effort to revitalize city blocks.

Last week, we also brought together our Champions of Change alumni on a call to reflect on how far the program has come, all the work that is being done throughout the country, and all the work that is still left to do. From what we heard from past Champions, they continue to do phenomenal work in their communities and have fostered partnerships and connections with their fellow Champions of Change.

The Champions of Change program continues to bring to the forefront some of the most incredible stories of change happening form the bottom up. These are real stories about real people who are leading initiatives across the country. It is so inspiring to see how their work at the community level is the driving force that brought, and continues to bring about change at the national level – in Washington.

I'm really looking forward to meeting our Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Champions this Friday, Aug. 10 and the many more Champions who will join us in the future.

Visit to learn more about our past Champions of Change.

Jon Carson is the Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

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