On November 15, the ceremony for the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards was held at the White House for the eighth and final time. The program was a watershed project of the Obama administration, meant to recognize outstanding extracurricular programs that enrich and transform the lives of young people. Each of the 12 annual recipients received a $10,000 grant, and a full year of capacity-building and communications support.
With the Obama administration coming to a close, and so much uncertainty about what the incoming Trump administration will bring to the table, not much was openly said about the future of programs from the president’s Committee of Arts and the Humanities. But First Lady Michelle Obama, who has been instrumental in the support of this program, still put forth a message of hope and inclusivity in her opening statements;
“We are a country that believes in our young people- all of them. We believe that every single child has boundless promise, no matter who they are, where they come from, or how much money their parents have. We’ve gotta remember that. We believe that each of these young people is a vital part of the great American story,” she said.
“It is important to our continued greatness to see these kids as ours. Not as ‘them.’ Not as ‘other.’ But as ours. Because we want them to know that if they’re willing to work for it- and so many are, that they can be anything they want. That’s what this country is about and we can never forget that. These kids are ours. And that’s really the power of programs like these. That’s the message that they send to our young people every single day.”