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. At the urging of Nelson Mandela, he began the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative, which is now named the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) to improve global access to care and treatment.
During the same time CHAI began its work, President Clinton established 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.
Over the next decade, the Foundation continued to expand its reach and impact, building on past successes and applying the same business-oriented approach to tackle other pressing challenges. While some initiatives blossomed from President Clinton’s commitment to specific issues — like climate change through the Clinton Climate Initiative — others were inspired by life-changing events.
In 2005, after President Clinton underwent heart-bypass surgery, the Foundation 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 a proven record of results, two other initiatives — the Clinton Development Initiative and the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership — 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, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) began in September 2005 to convene world leaders, forward-looking CEOs, and philanthropists to commit to take action on pressing global challenges. Members of the CGI community have made more than 3,600 commitments, which have improved the lives of over 435 million people in more than 180 countries.
In 2010, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) became a separate nonprofit organization. Though the organization initially focused on increasing access to HIV/AIDS treatment, CHAI has expanded its work to increase access to treatments for malaria, diarrhea, tuberculosis; increase the efficiency and effectiveness of health care systems; accelerate the rollout of new vaccines; and improve maternal, newborn, and child health.
In 2012, building on the Foundation’s work of improving global health and fighting childhood obesity, the Foundation launched the Clinton Health Matters Initiative to improve the health and well-being of people across the United States. By developing and implementing a variety of evidence-based individual systems, and investment strategies, the initiative works to promote healthy lifestyles across all generations and reduce health disparities among communities.
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, the Clinton Foundation deployed resources to help with immediate and long-term relief and assistance. And at the request of President Obama, President Clinton joined with President George W. Bush to establish the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, which supported 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, and today puts emphasis on private sector investment, job creation, capacity building, and economic development.
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 first school in the nation to offer a master’s degree in public service. Both the Center and the School are inspiring others to follow in the Clintons’ legacy of service.
In 2013, the Foundation was renamed the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation in recognition of Secretary Clinton’s and Chelsea’s contributions and to acknowledge their role in shaping the Foundation.
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. The Clinton Foundation wasn’t built overnight, and our successes aren't the result of the Clintons' work alone. The Foundation creates partnerships of great purpose to deliver sustainable solutions that last and transforms communities from what they are to what they can be.