First lady Melania Trump’s “Be Best” initiative will mark its second anniversary Thursday, with few of the objectives announced at the first anniversary accomplished.
At last year’s Rose Garden anniversary event, the first lady said she would be expanding the focus of the three pillars of her children-focused initiative to include overall online safety, not just social media well-being.
But “Be Best” continues to exist without specific policy or legislation goals, and most of its accomplishments in terms of advancing funding for children’s issues under the banner of “Be Best” come via partnerships with programs that already exist within the federal government.
In March of last year, Trump visited the Seattle headquarters of Microsoft, to learn more about the tech giant’s children’s programs and applications geared towards protection and usability. However, new expansion guidelines on the topic never materialized via “Be Best,” and Trump participated in fewer than 10 events specifically focused on online safety and children.
Trump also announced last year that she would expand the opioid pillar of “Be Best” from a focus on neonatal abstinence syndrome to include the impact of the drug crisis on all children, not just infants. Yet there was no definitive follow-up on what that would entail, nor was there a significant addition of events or remarks over “Be Best’s” second year aimed directly at addressing the issue.
When the first lady spoke at a youth opioid summit with older children in Baltimore last November, she was booed.
The East Wing communications office did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment on the failed objectives.
In remarks at “Be Best’s” first anniversary, Trump said she had appointed a “Be Best” ambassador from US Agency for International Development, and in June she added more than 20 additional “Be Best” ambassadors from various government agencies. However, her office would not publicly identify the names and positions of these ambassadors.
A White House official told CNN the ambassadors are in place to identify and focus “on resources and opportunities available within their agency” in order to “make a difference in the lives of children.”
One of the components of the first lady’s first anniversary speech was the announcement of a second solo international trip, which had been set for the fall to a location that was never disclosed. However, the trip never materialized, nor did details of a foreign destination. Throughout the year, when asked, sources confirmed the trip was being postponed but a reason was never given.
Trump’s October 2018 trip to Africa remains her only solo international trip. CNN has requested comment as to why the trip, and the expansion of “Be Best” in 2019 over the first year of its existence, has not materialized.
“Over the past two years, Be Best has played a major role in spreading awareness, highlighting successful programs and acts of kindness, and encouraging public-private sector relationships to help children overcome the struggles they face every day,” said Trump in a statement released by the first lady’s office.
Throughout 2019, Trump did attend, host or speak at a number of events, always citing her initiative and her dedication to helping children.
According to a White House official, Trump has since “Be Best’s” 2018 inception met with “nearly 4,000 children,” and “toured nearly 20 hospitals both domestically and internationally, highlighting their innovative programs and thanking the medical staff for their devotion to their patients.”
Trump has hosted roundtables at the White House, and focused any remarks at those events on “Be Best,” with the exception of trips to military bases where the primary objective was to honor military families.
Trump is expected Thursday to highlight “Be Best’s” accomplishments over the last year, though with the restrictions put in place due to coronavirus, it is likely the anniversary will not be marked with a live event as it was in 2019.
Trump will attend the National Prayer Day event this afternoon in the Rose Garden with President Donald Trump. She is expected to give the opening prayer, as she did last year at the same event.