Calling all Student Filmmakers


White House Student Film Festival

Movie Night at the White House

Ever dreamed of having your own short film screened in a movie theater? How about right here at the White House? Great news: We’re inviting K-12 students from around the country to create and submit one- to three-minute short web videos.

The topic: Highlighting the importance of technology in the classroom — and imagining how technology will change the educational experience for kids in the future. And finalists could have their videos screened at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, and posted on the White House website.

Find out how you or someone you know can apply.

Weekly Address: Marking the One-Year Anniversary of the Tragic Shooting in Newtown, Connecticut

In his weekly address, President Obama honors the memory of the 26 innocent children and educators who were taken from us a year ago in Newtown, Connecticut.

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West Wing Week 12/13/13 or, “Madiba, Farewell”

Last week, the Vice President wrapped up a six-day, diplomatic mission to Japan, China, and the Republic of Korea, while the President spoke on achieving peace in the Middle East at the Saban Forum, honored and lit the National Christmas Tree, and traveled to Johannesburg to honor the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela.

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What You Missed: Vice President Biden Answers Your Questions on Immigration Reform

Last week, Vice President Biden and Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, sat down to answer your questions on immigration during a live Skype event.

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What Truly Matters: Ensuring All Americans Have Access to Quality Affordable Health Care


Buenas tardes,

Over the last several weeks the President has highlighted the benefits of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). With HealthCare.gov now working smoothly for the vast majority of consumers, our top priority is to ensure that every eligible American who wants access to insurance is able to get it. We are two months into a six month open enrollment period and are laser-focused on continuing to reach as many Americans as possible to let them know about their new health care options and the various ways in which they can enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace.

The need for and interest in affordable health insurance extends across the country. For instance, through November, state and federal websites received 39.1 million visits; we have received applications to provide coverage for approximately 3.7 million individuals; and 2.3 million people were determined eligible to buy a qualified health plan. These numbers remind us that we cannot go back to a system that leaves millions of Americans vulnerable and without care. We must move forward.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the White House Youth Summit on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the White House Youth Summit on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building South Court Auditorium, Dec. 4, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

As you know millions of people are already benefiting from and will continue to benefit from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). For instance, upwards of 17 million children can no longer be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition. Additionally, starting in 2014, insurance companies can no longer charge higher premiums based on health status or history. These provisions provide millions of families with the peace of mind to know their children will receive the quality care they deserve.

Also, as a result of changes made by the ACA, millions of Americans are already saving money. For example, the ACA requires insurance companies to spend at least 80% of premiums on medical care and efforts to improve the quality of care. If they don’t, insurers have to send consumers a refund to meet this threshold. Already almost 80 million consumers have saved $3.4 billion upfront on their premiums in 2012; and, based on 2012 spending, 8.5 million customers received an average refund of approximately $100 per family.

The ACA’s commitment to providing health security to all Americans means expanding Medicaid, mental health benefits, and parity protections. Due to the US Supreme Court decision, States can choose whether or not to expand Medicaid coverage to all adults with incomes below 133% of the federal poverty (around $32,000 for a family of four). Already, 26 States and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid to provide better care to more of their residents. One thing is clear, Medicaid expansion is both the right and smart choice for states.

Furthermore, for the first time, insurance companies must cover mental health and substance use disorder services at parity with medical and surgical benefits. As such, out-of-pocket costs for behavioral health services must be comparable to coverage for medical and surgical care. That is one of the largest expansions of mental health and substance use disorder coverage in a generation!

In addition to increasing access to health insurance and benefits, the ACA allocated money to increase access to community health centers. Health centers across the country have received funding to create new health center sites in medically underserved areas, to expand preventive and primary health care services, and to support major construction and renovation projects. This important investment supports community health centers double the number of patients they serve to nearly 40 million by 2015. As approximately 35 percent of patients served by community health centers in 2009 were Latino, this investment will positively impact Latinos and help to reduce ethnic and racial disparities in health care.

As HealthCare.gov continues to improve each day for the vast majority of Americans, it’s important to recognize that Americans interested in quality affordable health insurance can purchase health insurance multiple ways. There are four key ways to apply for health insurance: online at HealthCare.gov or CuidadoDeSalud.gov, by telephone at 1-800-318-2596, by mail, and in-person at specified community centers (click here to find local help; En Español). The diversity of application processes allows Americans to select which process works best for them.

4 Ways to Get Marketplace Coverage

As we enter a critical enrollment stage before the holidays, we ask that you to partner with us to amplify the important enrollment deadline of December 23rd to sign up for coverage beginning January 1st, 2014.   Even if “health care” isn’t the particular focus of your organization and even if you don’t have grassroots organizers lined up in key markets, there is still something you can do to help people get access to the “gift of health care” this Holiday Season.  If you are interested in working with our digital team to send a blast e-mail out to your networks reminding folks to sign-up on HealthCare.gov leading up to the 23rd, please reach out to me at Latino@who.eop.gov.

As always, please share this information with your networks, get engaged in educating the Latino community about the Health Insurance Marketplaces, and use the hashtag: #OurSalud to join the conversation.

Julie Chávez Rodriguez Deputy Director White House | Office of Public Engagement

Agency Updates

How the Marketplace Works Four steps to gaining health coverage. En Español.

Four Ways to get Marketplace Coverage Learn about all the ways to apply for health coverage through the Marketplace. En Español.

#GetCovered: My Story More people are applying and getting coverage from the Health Insurance Marketplace every day. Read personal stories of how the Marketplace has helped people across the country. You can share your story using #GetCovered.

Education Department Releases Updated Financial Aid Shopping Sheet to Provide Students with Additional Transparency in College Costs December 13, 2013 Today, the U.S. Department of Education released an updated version of the administration’s financial aid model award letter, known as the Shopping Sheet, and announced that nearly 2,000 institutions of higher education have voluntarily committed to using this important consumer tool.

The Health Insurance Marketplace: What You Need to Know December 4, 2013 Since it launched in October, we have made dramatic improvements to HealthCare.gov, taking it from a system that didn’t perform nearly as well as it should, to one that can help you learn about your new health insurance options, create an account, learn about financial help you may be able to receive, compare your options and select a plan.   If you’ve tried HealthCare.gov and been unsatisfied with your experience, or if you’ve been wondering if you’re eligible for a more affordable option under the health care law, here are some tips for you.  Remember, you MUST enroll in a plan by December 23, and pay your premium, to get coverage on January 1, 2014.

United States Agrees to Comprehensive Settlement with Suffolk County Police Department to Resolve Investigation of Discriminatory Policing Against Latinos December 3, 2013 The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York announced today that they have tentatively agreed to a settlement with the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) which calls for SCPD to implement new and enhanced policies and procedures to ensure nondiscrimination in the provision of police services to Latino communities in Suffolk County.

FACT SHEET: Youth CareerConnect Grants November 19, 2013 To compete in today’s global economy, America’s students need deep knowledge and skills that will prepare them for college and the jobs of the future. Yet far too many of America’s students are not meaningfully engaged or motivated in their academic experience while in high school. Many high school graduates lack exposure to learning that links their work in school to college and careers—especially in the critically important fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Moreover, many of America’s international competitors offer students a more rigorous and relevant education in their middle and high school years.

FACT SHEET: U.S.-Panama Relations November 19, 2013 The United States and Panama share nearly 150 years of history and strong cooperation.  Our broad economic, security, and political cooperation reflect the wide range of shared interests.

Blog Highlights

Strengthening Health Centers to Strengthen Our Communities A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of visiting a high-energy forum at a community health center in my home town of Detroit, and saw firsthand how vital community health centers are as a source of quality health care. Today, approximately 1,200 health centers operate more than 9,000 service delivery sites that provide care to over 21 million patients across the country. I am frankly in awe of the great work that these community health centers provide, especially to the Latino and other underserved communities. En Español.

President Obama and the First Lady Will Welcome Two Latino Kennedy Center Honorees to the White House President Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama will welcome the 2013 Kennedy Center Honorees to the White House this Sunday, December 8, where they will applaud and thank them for their musical contributions to the world. Amongst the five honorees, two of the artists being recognized are Latinos: acclaimed musician Carlos Santana and renowned soprano opera singer Martina Arroyo.

Get Involved

White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics Webinar on Family Engagement This month’s webinar will focus on family engagement. The importance of a family’s role in a child’s academic, social, and emotional development is widely accepted and encouraged throughout the education sector. Join us to hear about two program models designed to create strong engagement between families and their children’s schools, and discuss ways to engage Hispanic families in education successfully.

Who: White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics What: A WEBINAR on Family Engagement When: Wednesday, December 18, at 2:00-3:10 pm EST Where: To RSVP, email WHIEEH@ed.gov with the subject line: “Family Engagement Webinar”. Please provide your name and organization.

Immigration Integration Project: Call for Applications Networks for Integrating New Americans is an innovative, national initiative that seeks to position adult education programs as key contributors to local, multi-sector networks formed to advance immigrant integration. The initiative will identify, strengthen, and document place-based models of immigrant integration that other communities can replicate and adapt. All materials can be found at: http://www.worlded.org/WEIInternet/us/project/display.cfm?ctid=na&cid=na&tid=40&id=13981.

Who: US Department of Education Office of Vocational and Adult Education What: The project will select up to five forward-thinking community networks (also coalitions or initiatives) to receive technical assistance to address the linguistic, civic, and economic needs of immigrant adults. When: Preliminary applications are due Dec. 20, 2013 Where: Submit application online

White House Internship Program The White House Internship Program provides a unique opportunity to gain valuable professional experience and build leadership skills. This hands-on program is designed to mentor and cultivate today’s young leaders, strengthen their understanding of the Executive Office and prepare them for future public service opportunities. The White House Internship Program’s mission is to make the “People’s House” accessible to future leaders from around the nation.

Who: Young Leaders in the Community What: Opportunity to gain professional experience, build leadership skills, and further exposure to the public service sector. When: Applications due January 5, 2014 Where: Apply online at White House Internship Program Website

Email internship_info@who.eop.gov for more information.

White House Fellows Program Founded in 1964, the White House Fellows program is one of America’s most prestigious programs for leadership and public service. White House Fellowships offer exceptional young men and women first-hand experience working at the highest levels of the federal government. Selected individuals typically spend a year working as a full-time, paid Fellow to senior White House Staff, Cabinet Secretaries and other top-ranking government officials.

Who: Young Leaders in the Community What: The purpose of the White House Fellows program is to provide gifted and highly motivated young Americans with some first-hand experience in the process of governing the Nation and a sense of personal involvement in the leadership of society. When: Applications due January 15, 2014 Where: Apply online at White House Fellows Program Website

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Today’s Top 10


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Today’s Must Reads

Here’s ten items, including some under-the radar-stories, that you should not miss:

Forcing troops to pay more for food


Department of Defense: Keep the Military Commissaries Open!

change.org

  By Russell Todd Crawford
                                                Richmond, Virginia

The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) will be soon writing a plan for closing stateside commissaries at the request of the Defense Department, which is still looking for ways to slash costs in the face of mandated budget cuts. Such a plan could leave military members stationed stateside at bases in remote locations, such as Fort Irwin, Calif., driving long distances for food. Those with local grocery store options outside the gate would be in better shape — but can still expect to pay around 30 percent more across the board should the commissaries close, especially on products such as meat which are often much cheaper on base than off.

The request, shared with military columnist Tom Phipott by military resale community sources, was made by the DoD’s Under Secretary of Defense Robert Hale, the department’s top financial adviser, and Air Force Lt. Gen. Mark F. Ramsay, director of force structure, resources and assessment for the Joint Staff.

Please support our fellow Americans who do and have served their county with honor and deserve the benefits they were promised! The military commissary dates back to 1868 when every military location had a commissary.

Please sign this petition against the closing of all Stateside Military Commissaries!

Thank you!

Domino’s responds to you


I love when we win big, and I couldn’t wait to share this victory with you because it never would have happened without Democracy for America members like you speaking out.
Last week, we asked you to join DFA and Daily Kos to stand up for two dozen Domino’s delivery drivers who were fired for merely asking to be paid wages they were owed. Thanks to your quick support, Domino’s caved. Late last Friday, they settled with the workers and gave them their jobs back, under immense public pressure from local officials and progressive activists like you.
This is a huge victory not just for these workers and their families but for employees fighting wage theft everywhere. It’s also proof that the work we are doing makes a real difference — which is why we can’t stop here.
Those delivery drivers may have their jobs back, but they still have to find a way to live in New York City on $7.25 an hour. They shouldn’t have to settle for that and neither should we. Tell the Senate we need to do better — raise the minimum wage now.
Even if wage theft wasn’t a problem, a minimum wage worker in New York could work 40 hours a week or more and still not earn enough to pay rent on a small apartment — never mind food, clothing and other necessities. Often this forces working people to turn to public assistance like food stamps and Medicaid in order to survive, which ends up being extremely expensive for taxpayers — in fact, the National Employment Law Project found that Domino’s alone indirectly costs taxpayers more than $126 million per year.
Asking taxpayers to provide fast food workers with basic necessities so that corporations can make more profits and raise executive pay isn’t fair or sustainable in the long term. We can’t have a strong middle class in this country unless every person who is working full time can afford to take care of themselves and their families — and the only way we can make sure that happens is by raising the minimum wage.
Last week, you took on Domino’s and won. Now, let’s take on poverty wages everywhere. Raising the minimum wage is universally popular — this is another fight we can win and the right thing to do. Join the fight to pay all workers a livable wage today.

Together our voices are powerful,
– Andy
Andy Kelley, Online Programs Manager Democracy for America