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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

President Obama Announces New “Call to Arts” Initiative as Part of his National Call To Service

AFI and SAG-AFTRA Answer the President’s Call to Service and Pledge to Work Toward One Million Hours of Mentorship in Support of the Next Generation of Storytellers

Washington, DC - Today President Obama will host the second-annual White House Student Film Festival where he will announce a new Call to Arts Initiative through the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency tasked with leading United We Serve, to help inspire and mentor young artists around the country. The President will also announce that the American Film Institute (AFI) and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) have answered his call and will work toward a goal of one million mentor hours over the next three years together with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

The film festival showcases 15 students’ visions on the theme, “The Impact of Giving Back” and highlights the promise of mentorship in the arts and calls for the entertainment industry to build upon their mentoring programs and engagement nationwide. The fifteen student videos from around the country were chosen as “Official Selections” in collaboration with the American Film Institute who engage with Participant Media and their Teach Initiative to expand the festival this year.  

In keeping with President Obama’s vision of giving every child the chance to reach their full potential, the Administration continues to expand opportunities for mentoring and to support the individuals who enable future leaders. The Administration is working with businesses to increase apprenticeship programs and connect groups traditionally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math fields with role models in STEM careers. First Lady Michelle Obama's Reach Higher initiative is encouraging campus groups and college students to connect with high schoolers and other near-peers who do not always see themselves completing higher education. The Council on Women and Girls and initiatives like My Brother’s Keeper were launched by the President to recognize our responsibility to reach every young person regardless of who they are or where they come from.

About the “Call to Arts”:

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that leads the President’s United We Serve initiative, is joining forces with the American Film Institute (AFI) and AFTRA to help lead a three-year effort entitled Call to Arts aimed at inspiring young artists. AFI and SAG-AFTRA will enlist mentors to help young people grow as artists by sharing their passion and furthering their goals.

These groups share a goal of together dedicating more than a million mentorship hours during the next three years.

How this Partnership Works:

CNCS, working with organizations like MENTOR: The National Mentoring Project, will identify partner organizations that can link SAG-AFTRA members to local organizations where they will share their skills and experience to inspire young people to pursue careers in the arts., the website for the President’s Call to Service, will include resources and guidance for SAG-AFTRA members. This feature will be in addition to the existing mentoring resources open to all Americans.


President Obama believes that we all have unique talents that can open more doors of opportunity for our young people through mentoring. He is now calling on the artist community to join in and help nurture the creativity in the next generation. Research shows that mentoring works. Studies by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership show:

  • Students who meet regularly with their mentors are 52% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school and 37% less likely to skip a class.
  • Youth who meet regularly with their mentors are 46% less likely than their peers to start using illegal drugs and 27% less likely to start drinking.
  • Seventy-six percent of at-risk young adults who had a mentor aspire to enroll in and graduate from college versus half of at-risk young adults who had no mentor.  They are also more likely to be enrolled in college.
  • Mentoring reduces “depressive symptoms” and increases “social acceptance, academic attitudes, and grades.”

About United We Serve:

United We Serve, President Obama’s nationwide service initiative, is built on the belief that ordinary people can come together and achieve extraordinary things when given the proper tools. This initiative aims to both expand the impact of existing organizations by engaging new volunteers in their work and encourage volunteers to develop their own "do-it-yourself" projects.

If we want to realize change in our communities, we've got to be in it for the long haul, and it starts with each of us., the online home of United We Serve, is managed by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency charged with promoting and fostering volunteering and national service programs like AmeriCorps for the nation.