Winners of the award are found by Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights to have advanced human rights through their efforts in public service.
"Bobby Kennedy was one of my heroes," Obama said. "I first got into public service because I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, believing that my own salvation was bound up with the salvation of others. That's something he expressed far better than I ever could."
The awards will be presented at a banquet in New York City on Dec. 12.
This year's awards come after the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's death. The onetime U.S. attorney general, New York senator and Democratic presidential candidate was shot on June 5, 1968, following a major primary victory in California that may well have propelled him to the presidency if not for his assassination. During his time in public office, Kennedy prioritized human rights issues.
"My father believed; 'Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope," said group president and Kennedy's daughter Kerry Kennedy. "On the 50th anniversary of his historic campaign for the White House, we honor laureates who have sent forth countless ripples of hope to millions of people inspired by their example."
Past winners of the award include former President Bill Clinton, former New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, singer Bono, actor George Clooney, Robert F. Smith and former Vice President Al Gore.