Meet Four Obama Foundation Fellows Challenging the Status Quo for Kids


More than 20,000 applicants from 191 countries around the globe applied for the first-ever Obama Foundation Fellowship, and this week, 20 were chosen. Of that very small number of game changers and trailblazers, two are Teach For America alumni and two are leaders from our global network of partner organizations.

Founded in 2017, the Obama Foundation Fellowship seeks to “support outstanding civic innovators from around the world in order to amplify the impact of their work and to inspire a wave of civic innovation,” according to its website. As part of the coveted two-year, non-residential fellowship, each fellow will receive a personalized plan of action to deepen his or her impact and, of course, access to the Obama Foundation’s exclusive network.

The list of fellows include journalists, artists, and socially minded entrepreneurs, among a variety of other innovators. What unites these 20 leaders is a deep commitment to making a social impact.

That’s certainly true for the TFA alumni in the group, Veronica Crespin-Palmer (Los Angeles ’06) and Kalani Leifer (New York ’08), both former winners of TFA’s Social Innovation Awards. Ditto those affiliated with Teach For All, a network of organizations working toward educational equity in countries around the world: Clarissa Isabelle Delgado from Teach for the Philippines and Nedgine Paul Deroly from Anseye Pou Ayiti (Teach for Haiti).

From empowering families most affected by educational inequity in Colorado to building a movement of diverse, upwardly mobile college grads through enhancing digital skills and peer connections, these leaders represent some of the most innovative changemakers in the world, working alongside communities to build a more equitable future.

Kalani Leifer

Kalani Leifer (New York ’08) is the founder and executive director of COOP. COOP works to place underrepresented college graduates in high-powered digital marketing and analytics careers by providing technical training, facilitating peer mentorships, and opening doors of opportunity at companies around the country.