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Keeping Interest Rates Low, President Obama in Afghanistan, and Summer Jobs+

President Obama speaks about student loan interest rates and travels to Afghanistan, and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis launches the Summer Jobs+ Bank.

President Obama Continues Effort to Stop Student Interest Rate Increase

On Friday, President Obama spoke to the junior and senior classes at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia about the need to prevent interest rates on federal subsidized student loans from doubling on July 1. Before his speech, the President and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan held a roundtable discussion with a group of high school seniors and their parents. Learn more about how to have your voice heard on this issue in the Get Involved section below, and follow the conversation by using the hashtag #DontDoubleMyRate.

President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan talk with students (May 4, 2012)

President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan talk with students and parents during a roundtable discussion on affordable higher education at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Va.,, May 4, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama Travels to Afghanistan

Last Tuesday, President Obama made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan to sign the Strategic Partnership Agreement with President Hamid Karzai, which provides a framework for the relationship between our two nations moving forward as U.S. forces leave the country and Afghans continue the transition to take control of their own security. In his address to the American people after signing the agreement, President Obama announced that 23,000 U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of the summer, and by the end of 2014, Afghan forces will be fully responsible for the security of their country. After his meeting with President Karzai, President Obama met with U.S. troops at Bagram Air Base. He thanked them for the sacrifices that they have made -- and that their families have made -- over the past decade of war, and paid tribute to their successes.

President Barack Obama addresses the nation from Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan (May 1, 2012)

President Barack Obama addresses the nation from Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Summer Jobs+ Bank Launches

Last week, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis joined Mayor Michael Nutter at Philadelphia’s City Hall to announce the launch of the Summer Jobs+ Bank and to highlight the progress of the Summer Jobs+ initiative. Summer Jobs+ is a call to action for businesses, non-profits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for young people in the summer of 2012. It’s about helping people find their first jobs. Dozens of companies and non-profit organizations, as well as cities, federal agencies, and the White House, have joined together to provide nearly 300,000 opportunities for young people. Learn about the innovative Summer Jobs+ apps that were created here, and encourage young people in your community to visit the Summer Jobs+ Bank here.

Cinco de Mayo at the White House

On Thursday, President Obama hosted a reception at the White House to mark Cinco de Mayo. In his remarks the President said:

Right now, there are more than 50 million Americans of Latino descent -- one sixth of our population. You’re our neighbors, our coworkers, our family, our friends. You’re starting businesses. You’re teaching in classrooms. You’re defending this country. You’re driving America forward. And for our part, we know that securing our future depends on making sure that all Americans have the opportunity to reach their potential.

Blog Highlights

White House Champions of Change Program

The Champions of Change series spotlights everyday heroes who are demonstrating a commitment to improving their own communities, their country, or the lives of their fellow citizens. We are looking for you to nominate someone who is doing extraordinary things to make a difference in your community as a “Champion of Change.”

Get Involved

For more information about ways to get involved, check out the Office of Public Engagement’s blog, which is updated daily with upcoming engagement opportunities. Be sure to participate in the online conversation by following @JonCarson44.

Interest rates on new subsidized student loans are scheduled to double on July 1. If Congress doesn’t act to prevent this, more than 7 million students around the country will rack up an average of $1,000 of extra debt. President Obama knows that’s not acceptable. Raise your voice and reach out to your networks if you agree that student loan rates should not double on July 1. On Twitter and Google+, use the hashtag #DontDoubleMyRate; on Facebook, update your status and profile image. Learn more about the President’s proposal and read about the impact higher interest rates would have on the AAPI, Native American, Hispanic, and African American communities.

Get Updates

For more information, visit the White House Office of Public Engagement website and sign up for additional opportunities.

We welcome your thoughts and feedback at

Anne Filipic and Stephanie Valencia are Deputy Directors in the Office of Public Engagement.