Michelle Obama At TIME 100: Black Gown, Long Necklaces (TRANSCRIPT, PHOTOS)

On Tuesday night, Michelle Obama delivered the opening remarks at the TIME 100 Gala in New York, a celebration of TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world, wearing a full-length black dress.

The first lady accessorized with multiple strands of necklaces and simple diamond studs. She wore her hair pulled back.

See photos below, and scroll down for a transcript of her speech.

Photos from AP, Getty and Patrick McMullan

By JOCELYN NOVECK, AP National Writer Jocelyn Noveck, Ap National Writer - Tue May 5, 11:43 pm ET

NEW YORK - She's already conquered Britain, France and Germany. On Tuesday, it was time for Michelle Obama to conquer New York.

After a visit to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and an appearance on "Sesame Street," Mrs. Obama capped her first visit to New York as first lady with an appearance before a glittery crowd at Time magazine's annual Time 100 gala, honoring its 100 "Most Influential People." There, she mixed sparkle with substance, introducing the administration's proposal to give $50 million to innovative nonprofit groups.

Yes, her husband was on that most-influential list, too, as well as 98 other movers and shakers in the worlds of politics, technology, business, fashion, science, television, film and music. But it was clearly Mrs. Obama, dressed in a long black gown with a corset bodice and jet beads draped around her neck, whom the crowd wanted to see.

And it was a powerful crowd that stood to applaud her entrance, including fellow honorees Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Walters and her cohorts from "The View," financial analyst Suze Orman, fashion designer Stella McCartney, and the guys who invented Twitter.

Not on the honoree list but also attending: Diane Sawyer and Charlie Rose. Actors Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy, Kate Hudson and Liv Tyler. Director Judd Apatow, "Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels, conservative pundit Ann Coulter.

In her speech, Mrs. Obama spoke of the importance of public service in her own life, and then announced that the president's budget proposal for next year will include $50 million to help promote national service and advise nonprofit groups.

The money would be startup capital for the new Social Innovation Fund, she said, designed to help nonprofits think about service in new ways and approved by Congress as part of a national service law.

"The idea is simple: Find the most effective programs out there and then provide the capital needed to replicate their success in communities around the country," the first lady said.

"By focusing on high-impact, results-oriented nonprofits, we will ensure that government dollars are spent in a way that is effective, accountable and worthy of the public trust."

Earlier Tuesday, Mrs. Obama addressed diplomats and staff members at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, thanking them for promoting her husband's new foreign policy of global engagement.

As the swine flu outbreak demonstrates, she said, "we know now that we cannot wall ourselves off from issues that are challenging our neighbors."

"This new policy recognizes that America's future is intricately linked to the rest of the world, that the threats facing the global community know no borders, and no single country can tackle them alone," Mrs. Obama said.

It sounded, though, like the highlight of her day -- and to take her at her word, perhaps even her life as first lady so far -- was the appearance with Elmo and Big Bird.

"I never thought I'd be on 'Sesame Street' with Elmo and Big Bird and I was thrilled," she told the crowd at the mission. "I'm still thrilled. I'm on a high."

"I think it's probably the best thing I've done so far in the White House."


Associated Press writers Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations and Phil Elliott in Washington contributed to this report.




New York, NY

May 5, 2009

"Thank you Rick for that kind introduction and thank you for including me in tonight's festivities.

"It is a pleasure to join you all.

"There are few times in history when the saying 'we are all in this together' would be more applicable than now.

"Events like this one show how truly connected our world is;

"how one person's invention can create an entirely new economy;

"how one person can change how we see the world.

"The ability of one person to influence the outcome of someone else's life inspires me.

"When I made the decision to leave my job to found Public Allies Chicago, an AmeriCorps program that prepares youth for public service, I realized right away that I had made the right decision.

"There are few things more rewarding than watching young people recognize that they have the power to enrich not only their lives, but the lives of others as well.

"But careers in public service are not always encouraged.

"We push our young people to strive for things, an advanced degree, a job title, a big salary.

"Rarely do we urge them to stop and think about what their passion is, what kind of life they want to live, what kind of neighbors and colleagues and parents they want to be.

"In doing so, we, as a society, often miss out on their creativity, their inventiveness, their resourcefulness- and some really good ideas!

"We also miss out on the opportunity to inspire a new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs who will direct their energy and talent toward solving their community's - and our nation's - most serious social problems.

"Careers focused on lifting up our communities - whether helping transform troubled schools or training workers for green jobs or helping low-income families access health care - are not always obvious.

"But, at a time when our nation is facing unprecedented challenges, encouraging careers in public service and social innovation is more important than ever.

"Already, we are seeing young people leading the way with their entrepreneurial spirit, energy and commitment to serving their communities.

"For example, Charles Best, a former Bronx public school teacher, started an online philanthropic marketplace called Donors Choose to help teachers who were spending up to $500 a year out of their own pockets for basic classroom materials.

"Through Donors Choose, ordinary citizens can directly fund projects initiated by enterprising public school teachers.

"Online donations have helped students in San Jose become avid readers through the Dr. Seuss series.

"An art class in the Bronx had no paint brushes. Now every student has a set.

"Rebecca Onie is a social entrepreneur who founded "Project Health" to help break the link between poverty and poor health.

"I remember meeting Rebecca when I was at the University of Chicago and I was very impressed with her.

"Rebecca organizes college students to staff Help Desks in urban medical centers, universities and community centers.

"Students then connect low-income families to other critical community and government resources - such as housing vouchers, supplemental nutrition assistance, and educational support.

"This year, 600 college volunteers will dedicate 100,000 hours to connect over 15,000 low-income children and adults to the resources they need to be healthy.

"And then there is John Alford who grew up in a housing project in Brooklyn, attended college in North Carolina and then Harvard Business School.

"John recently launched NOLA 180 a 'turn-around' organization for failing public schools in New Orleans.

"NOLA 180 transforms these public schools into high-functioning charter schools that prepare every student for college.

"Langston Hughes Academy is the first school to benefit.

"Students spend 50 percent more time in their classrooms.

"Parents are given teacher's cell phone numbers so they can call for help with homework.

"And, in honor of their namesake, Langston Hughes, students receive instruction in persuasive writing, public speaking, debate and poetry.

"In its first year, Langston Hughes students outperformed the city's public school average in reading, writing and math.

"Charles, Rebecca and John. I know they are here somewhere. Congratulations and thanks for all of your hard work.

"This is exactly the kind of social innovation and entrepreneurship we should be encouraging all across this country.

"And that is why tonight, I am pleased to announce that as part of the new Serve America Act, the Administration is creating a Social Innovation Fund to help innovative nonprofit groups and social entrepreneurs, like the ones I just mentioned, expand their successful approaches to tackling our most pressing national challenges.

"The idea is simple: find the most effective programs out there and then provide the capital needed to replicate their success in communities around the country.

"By focusing on high-impact, results-oriented non-profits, we will ensure that government dollars are spent in a way that is effective, accountable and worthy of the public trust.

"In this room of Leaders and Revolutionaries, Builders and Titans, Artists and Entertainers, Scientists and Thinkers, Heroes and Pioneers, I think we can all agree, we did not get to where we are alone.

"Our success was made possible with the encouragement of a diligent parent or teacher, a grandparent who told us we had real talent, an older sibling who paved the way and set a good example, a scholarship or grant that created an unexpected opportunity, or a neighbor or community leader who told us to dream big.

"That's certainly been the case in my own life.

"I stand here today because of people who loved me, and pushed me and believed in me.

"I stand here today because of scholarships and grants and experiences that gave me opportunities I was afraid to dream of.

"I never imagined that, as a result of all that support, I would be in a position to be a role model for girls around the globe.

"Girls who look at me and see something more for themselves, more than society expects of them.

"Girls who now think anything is possible.

"As global leaders, let's not underestimate the power each of us has to change the world for someone - and let us not be afraid to try."