Michelle Obama’s Biggest Initiatives Over the Past Eight Years

Michelle Obama Initiatives: Let's Move, Let Girls Learn and More
Martha Adams, CNN Films

First lady Michelle Obama says that she will continue to focus on her key initiatives after her husband’s term ends, but she is also encouraging the entertainment industry to feature her issue-priorities in storylines and characters of movies and TV shows.

Let’s Move (launched in 2010)

Promotes healthy living, including eating and exercise. Obama is honorary chair of the related Partnership for a Healthier America, a nonprofit that includes food companies, private foundations, sports firms and educational entities, with a goal of ending childhood obesity.

Associated media: “Parks and Recreation,” “Jeopardy,” “Doc McStuffins” and Sprout Network shows.

Obama talks about making “cultural change,” or changing the way that people view an issue.

“Now moms are demanding something different from food producers. They are now speaking with their wallets, and as we see, companies respond,” she says. “The pressure is already on, because now we are looking for a healthier lifestyle. We are asking different questions. We are reading labels in a different way.”

Joining Forces (launched in 2011)

Call for assistance to service members, veterans and their families, including education and employment, and to curb homelessness. Obama and Jill Biden lead the initiative.

Associated media: “NCIS,” “iCarly,” “The Voice” and “Jessie.”

Obama has also worked with entertainment companies on programs to hire veterans. The Walt Disney Co. says that it has hired 7,000 veterans throughout the company, and has established a Veterans Institute to train 0ther companies in establishing veterans-hiring programs.

Noeleen Tillman, COO of Blue Star Families, says that the first lady has been instrumental in making veterans families “a conversation for the community at large.”

Before Joining Forces, she says, “there was very little connectivity from the military community to the civilian community. Having the first lady as the spokesperson really helped.”

Reach Higher (launched in 2014)

Tries to inspire every student to complete education past high school.

Associated media: Obama appeared in a College Humor rap video with Jay Pharoah of “Saturday Night Live.” MTV gathered stars like Robert De Niro and Common for College Signing Day events.

Let Girls Learn (launched in 2015)

Aims to help adolescent girls worldwide obtain quality education.

Associated media: “The Late, Late Show With James Corden” and “Project Runway Junior.” The first lady participated, with CNN’s Isha Sesay, Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto, in an upcoming CNN Films project on girls’ education, including scenes from her trip to Liberia and Morocco. It premieres Oct. 12 in the U.S.

The film, with the working title “Rise Up,” will show what happens when girls are able to overcome incredible obstacles. Amy Entelis, executive vice president of talent and content development for CNN Worldwide, says that it is a followup to “Girl Rising,” a 2013 documentary on the power of education.

“I think it is going to very emotional,” she says. “Understanding the odds they overcome to pursue their education is the kind of message we send around the world.”

After spending about 45 minutes with the first lady making “Carpool Karaoke,” Corden says, “Some people want to establish a status when they enter a room. When she enters a room, she just wants to level it. …She is grateful to be first lady but (also) grateful to be a true citizen of the world.”