Clinton Foundation History
When President Clinton left the White House in 2001, he knew he wanted to spend his life as a private citizen working in the areas he cared about most and where he could make a measurable difference. His vision: a nongovernmental organization that could leverage the unique capacities of governments, partner organizations, and other individuals to address rising inequalities and deliver tangible results that improve people’s lives.
At the International AIDS Conference in 2002, the prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis asked President Clinton to help build a health care system that would address the pressing HIV/AIDS pandemic. President Clinton knew that his Foundation could be helpful in lowering the cost of treatment for all countries in the developing world. At the urging of Nelson Mandela, he began the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative, which is now working as an independent nonprofit called the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) to improve global access to care and treatment.
During the same time CHAI began its work, President Clinton was establishing his post-presidential office in the iconic neighborhood of Harlem in New York City, where he saw a great opportunity for his Foundation to help empower local small business owners. This initiative has since evolved into the Clinton Economic Opportunity Initiative, which helps strengthen small businesses and entrepreneurs across the United States.
Over the next decade, President Clinton continued to add to the Foundation’s portfolio of work, building on past successes and applying the same business-oriented approach to tackle other pressing challenges. While some initiatives blossomed from his commitment to specific issues — like climate change through the Clinton Climate Initiative — others were inspired by life-changing events.
In 2005, after undergoing heart-bypass surgery, he joined with the American Heart Association to form the Alliance for a Healthier Generation with the goal of ending the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States.
Based on the Clinton Foundation’s proven record of results, two other initiatives — the Clinton Development Initiative and the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (formerly the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative) — were launched in conjunction with partners who knew the Foundation could effectively allocate financial resources and implement programs to catalyze sustainable growth in Africa and Latin America.
After a lifetime of attending meetings where issues were discussed but no action was taken, President Clinton started the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2005 to convene world leaders, forward-looking CEOs, and philanthropists to commit to take action on pressing global challenges. Over the course of seven annual meetings, members have made nearly 2,300 commitments totaling $73.1 billion that will improve more than 400 million lives.
Building on President Clinton’s longstanding commitment to Haiti from during his presidency, the Foundation has been actively engaged in Haiti since 2009. Following the 2010 devastating earthquake in Haiti, President Clinton dedicated Clinton Foundation resources to help with immediate and long-term relief and assistance, and at the request of President Obama, joined with President George W. Bush to establish the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, which supports highly effective organizations on the ground in long-term rebuilding efforts. In 2011, the Clinton Foundation refocused its efforts in Haiti from emergency relief to long-term development and strategic planning, putting emphasis on private sector investment, job creation, capacity building, and education.
In addition to these initiatives, the Clinton Presidential Center, in Little Rock, Arkansas, supports the mission of the Foundation. The Center is also home to the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, the only school in the nation offering a master’s degree in public service. Both the Center and the School are inspiring others to follow in President Clinton’s legacy of service.
What began as a vision to lower the prices of HIV/AIDS medicines has evolved into one of the fastest-growing NGOs in the world. But the Clinton Foundation wasn’t built overnight, nor was it the result of one individual alone. The collaboration of like-minded partners, visionary individuals, generous supporters, and a dedicated and talented staff on the ground has brought the Foundation to where it is today.