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If you want to be in the know about what’s going on with Bring Up Nebraska and with the community collaboratives, you’ve come to the right place.

Be sure to check back regularly to get our latest news updates.

by Jeff Cole, Network Lead, Beyond School Bells Engaging, playful, inspiring, purposeful, youth-centered, hopeful, fun – the future of afterschool and summer learning in Nebraska is bright.  That is the overarching takeaway from the first-ever Nebraska ELO Innovation Invitational. Nebraska

It feels like something from David Cronenburg’s The Fly. A young man stands in the middle of a room; his eyes bulge from his head, black and shiny. But this isn’t human turned insect and those aren’t eyes, although what’s

by Mary Jo Pankoke, Nebraska Children President and CEO As we celebrate Nebraska Children’s 25th anniversary, it’s a great time to revisit the state plan that led to the creation of our organization. The Nebraska Family Preservation & Support Program

Christina Sigbornson knew from a young age that she wanted to teach but wasn’t sure with what age group.  Even though she thought it would be elementary students, she began working at a child development center while in college. That’s

Tracy Went emphasizes the growth of coaching across the state, but asks an important question, “there is so much coaching going on and though so many supports exist, there is always more need. How can we continue to build those

One of the best things about Nebraska Children and Families Foundation is the people. Nebraska Children is made up of passionate people dedicated to making positive change.   Most recently, Chloe Mcshannon has embodied the role of a young leader. As

On Tuesday, October 25, Nebraska Children hosted Changemakers, our yearly celebration of people who positively transform children’s lives. We had many people, organizations, and entities to thank.   What makes Changemakers so unique, however, is the fact that Nebraska Children has

Beyond School Bells (BSB), Nebraska Children and Families Foundation’s afterschool network, and partners continue to create quality expanded learning programs (ELOs) throughout the state. Luckily, we aren’t alone in our work. On September 19, hundreds of afterschool learning leaders gathered

Imagine a world where we rush to sweep up the debris any time a building collapses, rather than creating buildings that can withstand natural disasters. Imagine suffering from an incurable disease, then taking over-the-counter painkillers for it, rather than working

When it comes to change, Buffett Early Childhood Institute’s Thriving Children, Families, and Communities Conference demonstrates it. So do childcare providers. So do we. Early childhood professionals had to constantly swerve throughout the pandemic to accommodate ever-changing needs. This yearly

As a participant in Sixpence home visits, Gabby and her son Kaden had fun and learned from an early childhood expert. An integral part of Sixpence, home visits provide parents with the opportunity to work with highly skilled professionals. The home visitors support the families to assess and work through children’s developmental milestones and teach parents to become their child’s best champions and, most important, teachers. Read more about this Nebraska Children initiative.

Thanks to the Nebraska Children Youth Advisory Board and our Assistant VP of Policy and Leadership, Lincoln Arneal, the CYI Youth Advisory Board, and many young leaders, we finished the third year of LEAD the Summer! First, we’d like to tell you a bit about CYI. A Nebraska Children initiative, CYI works with young people between 14-26 who experienced foster care, child welfare, homelessness, human trafficking, juvenile justice and probation, and other challenges.

Together, resilient young people and our organization create positive outcomes, especially during retreats like LEAD the Summer, where young people use their voices to create a better Nebraska. Read how resilient young people and our organization create positive outcomes, especially during retreats like LEAD the Summer, where young people use their voices to create a better Nebraska.

Thank you to our Presenting Sponsors, and all the other generous people and organizations, for making our evening perfect!

Childcare providers are a shining example of indispensable professionals. They care for our children so parents can work. They create stimulating, educational, and memorable learning experiences for children during the most critical times of their lives. And unfortunately, they are often overlooked, under-compensated, and left in the dark. Nebraska Children and Families Foundation and partners like Auburn Sixpence help families thrive. Sixpence, one of our early childhood initiatives, aims to promote this mission, especially for children 0-3.    

Nebraska Children and Families Foundation’s work includes many meaningful initiatives. There’s one, however, that’s extra special. Camp Catch-Up (CCU) is a moving event that takes place during the summer and fall.  Read about the latest session.

There’s no better indicator of community well-being than a real-life partner’s story! Today, we asked Auburn Sixpence Program Coordinator Tyson Wessels and Sixpence CCP Coach Anne Bennett to fill us in on all the great work they’re doing to support Auburn, Nebraska’s childcare providers! Find out the exciting things that Auburn Sixpence is accomplishing.

Once upon a time, several years ago, in Lincoln, two young girls began attending a Summer learning program at the Asian Community Center. Thanks to this experience and the support of their parents and mentors, they discovered a talent for speaking Mandarin Chinese. Now, imagine yourself fast-forwarding into 2022, except halfway across the globe. One of those girls, now a young woman, is responsible for obtaining a $25,000 grant from MICRON USA to build a team promoting cross-global expanded learning in Taiwan. This example of Hana McMahon-Cole isn’t a fairy tale. This story is a true-to-life example of how far afterschool and summer learning can propel young people and how Nebraska can connect them halfway across the globe.

"Sixpence has also favored autonomy and security within our family, as well as an increased ability of creativity and imagination in my children. As a parent, Sixpence has helped me create stronger ties with my children and with society." Read more about Andrea's positive takeways from our Sixpence program!

When Chloe Mcshannon ran away from her foster care placements as a teenager, one day she realized that if she didn’t return to school, she’d miss her final exams. That, among many other turning points, led this remarkable young woman to where she is today—as a Camp Catch-Up intern. Read more.

Tyeisha Thompson, a CYI participant and recipient of the prestigious LEAP grant, talks about how she uses her design passion and newfound support to create new, safe spaces for young people like her who experienced foster care.

Learning can veer into countless directions and exciting terrains.

Afterschool provides that space, not only throughout Nebraska but the world. As you probably know, we all learn differently, but we know one thing for certain: when we are engaging ourselves and our children, our capacity for success is limitless.

In a rapidly changing, fast-paced world, our great state needs to retain and grow young, driven, and innovative professionals. There’s simply no better place than afterschool – wherever you may be – to partake in quality learning that can spark future careers.

Find out how Nebraska Children's afterschool initiative, Beyond School Bells' Jeff Cole and his daughter created a formidable team that's taking afterschool halfway across the world, all the way to Taiwan and back!

Beyond School Bells (BSB) wants to empower girls, especially those of color and other underrepresented groups, with the power of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Tyrina Webster, Director of Operations at the Malone Center, wants to equip young women with knowledge, dreams, and career choices. So does Joshua Jones, the Director of The Career Academy. Together, we make a formidable team. Thanks to BSB’s partners at STEMNext, we joined the charge in this nationwide initiative to include more girls in this cutting-edge field. When we hear how partners like the Malone Center and The Career Academy have partnered with us to join this movement, we’re thrilled to the moon and back.  

In 2018, when married couple Breann and Travis Hines began the Omaha, Nebraska-based nonprofit, Young Entrepreneurs of the Future Omaha (YEF), they set out on a mission. Their goals were to inspire the vision of youth entrepreneurship and develop self-reliance

After a 2-year delay, Bring Up Nebraska partners were finally able to gather in Lincoln to celebrate how Nebraska has become a national leader on building a community-based well-being system! On April 13-14, leaders from many of the community collaboratives across the state met with state and national partners in Lincoln.

Meet our new generation of businesspeople!

Girls create DJing businesses. Kids embody different food truck roles. Youth operate socially-conscious clothing brands and learn braiding, cosmetology, budgeting, and pricing, all thanks to your support of our Beyond School Bells initiative, VentureLab, and Young Entrepreneurs of the Future Omaha!

Grai Gray (they/them) is making a name for themselves in every area of their lives. From featuring a watercolor piece in the University of Nebraska Omaha’s (UNO) spring juried art show to doing digital illustrations, Grai keeps their world busy and colorful.   

When the Loup Valley Childhood Initiative (LVCI) decided to host almost 30 early care providers for the Crane River Theatre’s moving play, Pretty Fire, the team sought to celebrate providers and a love for the performing arts. LVCI is a community-driven team that works with Nebraska Children and Families Foundation’s Communities for Kids (C4K), our early childhood initiative that provides technical expertise, supports, and solutions that suit each location’s early care and education needs for children birth-5.  Read more about their innonative approach to honoring childcare providers.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, which marks a time when Nebraska Children and Families Foundation reaffirms our commitment to prevention. As we work toward a thriving Nebraska, we and our community partners strengthen families by preventing problems before they start. Read how you can get involved in community collaboratives to strengthen children and families!

There may be truth to the old adage, “it takes a village,” when it comes to developing quality early childhood care systems. After all, the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality concluded that the coordinated systems needed to impact families’

"I always knew I wanted to work with children. My vision for what that looked like changed and grew throughout my undergraduate program and the beginning of my career. Ultimately, everything led me to exactly where I needed to be, which is currently an Assistant Vice President of Early Childhood Mental Health with the Rooted in Relationships initiative at Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, and one of the co-leads for the Nebraska Pyramid Leadership Team."
Christen Million, one of Nebraska Children's experts, reflects on her passion for working with children, along with her future plans.

Nebraska Children and the Nebraska Department of Education are addressing pandemic-related setbacks through the Together, Better Initiative, a deliberate series of efforts geared toward strengthening students and families in the most essential ways. Among these efforts is the piloted project, Full-Service Community Schools (FSCS).  

Stick Creek Kids and Nebraska Children and Families Foundation’s Communities for Kids have worked hard to arrive at their destination: more quality early care and education in Nebraska. Surprises, lessons, and discoveries were all part of seeing Stick Creek Kids brought to reality. But whenever the water levels rose, the community rose up as well. 

Nebraska Children and Families Foundation is dedicated to weathering the storm. Although these storms come and go, one thing remains for certain within uncertainty: together, with your support, we can continue to stay afloat and redirect ourselves during rough weather. Beyond School Bells, our afterschool network of dedicated statewide professionals has truly done an incredible job of remaining buoyant during difficult times. For the third time since the pandemic, the team and their partners, the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE), NDE’s 21st Century Community Learning Center, and Nebraska Extension rescheduled GetConnected 2022, their statewide conference of afterschool learning leaders, and on Feb. 25, it was finally able to happen! 

“Sit down for just one minute and listen to me. That is what I would want to see changed; not, ‘You go here or here, or if you do this, we will put you here.’ As a kid, you don’t need to be threatened with a placement.”

Young leader Jacob Mckirdy is talking about the foster care system and the needs of children and youth who experienced this complicated entity. Read how he and other young leaders participate in Lincoln Legislative Days to make their voices heard about their passions.

Aiesha Rand doesn't believe in coincidences. In fact, her seemingly chance encounters with various Nebraska Children and Families Foundation staff have led her to where she is today - as an Assistant Vice President of Early Childhood Programs and a recipient of an Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health®. Read about how a series of surprises have moved Aiesha into her current success and how she recommends you can get there too!

In the real world, failure is often viewed as a disappointment. Whether we blame our shortcomings on others or the world at large, when we don’t achieve our goals or embody our envisioned success, we often feel helpless. The good news is Nebraska Children's Beyond School Bells, Nebraska 4-H Youth Development, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Honors Program can change this mindset through quality afterschool programming in the form of "winternships" and more!  

Imagine feeling free to try new things and explore, then being able to re-enter in for reassurance, support, and anything else you need before you set back out again. The whole time, knowing that no matter what you did or where you went, there was always that safe base for you to come back home. Read how our early childhood mental health experts and partners work throughout Nebraska to implement the Circle of Security Classroom (COSP-C™) approach, which helps teachers and childcare providers forge supportive bonds with children!

As a teenager, A’jza escaped her family and hid for three weeks in a friend’s closet. She’s also walked herself to therapy, deciding that she needed mental health support. She learned Omaha’s public transit system as a child, worked a job since she was 12, and has been mistaken for someone almost twice her age – with good reason.  Read about how, with a Connected Youth Initiative and Beyond School Bells internship, this remarkable young woman stepped into a thriving career.

Madison Honeyman is an activist, slam poet, youth advocate, and history buff. Best of all, she's retelling her past experiences in the foster care system, thanks to CYI supports to create a better tomorrow for other systems-involved young people.

Beyond School Bells and Connected Youth Initiative leverage $150,000 CARES Act dollars and create internships for former foster youth. Read how Iraqi-American former foster youth Athraa Ayal received a full-time job offer, thanks to her Lincoln Public Schools internship. Best of all, the Department of Health and Human Services expanded our contract, so this is just the beginning!

Holly Hatton-Bowers knows the powerful moment of watching families struggle and trying to build positive bonds from analyzing such interactions. In a practicum where she had to employ video reflection, Hatton-Bowers tells of a woman who described herself as a

Boone Beginnings has been involved with Communities for Kids (C4K) since 2018. The team modeled their program with an impeccable eye for detail and other preexisting centers as examples. And yes, that includes everything down to the tiny toilets. Read the good, the challenging and the funny parts behind Boone Beginnings' quality childcare journey.  

On her 18th birthday, the doors slammed behind her – and they were the doors to prison. Now, at 21 years old, Americle continues to focus on self-improvement. Part of her plan includes participating in PALS coaching, part of Central Plains Center for Services (CPCS), and Nebraska Children and Families Foundation’s Connected Youth Initiative (CYI). An older youth initiative, CYI provides supports and services to young people like Americle who have experienced incarceration or foster care, among other challenges. Read about her transformative journey and supportive resources.

In 2019, when McCook decided to increase access to childcare, they didn’t know what the future would bring. In 2021, the community came incredibly far, but they’re still surging ahead. Read about their impressive strides to create quality early care and programs.

Gering Communities for Kids (C4K) prides itself in building a brighter future for their families through community engagement. As an organization that drives home the same mission, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation couldn’t agree more. In our minds, we can accomplish some incredible feats, including creating quality childcare for children 0-5. Our initiative, Communities for Kids (C4K), accomplishes this goal in partnership with communities like Gering. Read more about how this newer C4K team creates quality care solutions.  

As a teenager, Az’ja escaped her abusive family and hid for three weeks in a friend’s closet. 

She’s also walked herself to therapy, deciding that she needed mental health support. She learned Omaha’s public transit system as a child, worked a job since she was 12, and has been mistaken for someone almost twice her age – with good reason. 

In addition to living in her friend’s closet, she sought shelter with her cousin, a hairstylist friend, her father’s ex-girlfriend, her friend’s grandmother, her friend’s aunt, her friend’s grandfather, and her own grandmother. She’s even spent the night at the hotel where she worked – all within a two-year period.

Read how an internship with Connected Youth Initiative and Beyond School Bells supported this remarkable young woman.

We're glad to kick off the first blog in a series that showcases Communities for Kids teams across Nebraska! What better place to start than right here in Lincoln, with Lincoln Littles? Read about how this team discovered its joys and challenges in creating childcare.

Usually, when a married couple says, “I do,” they utter those words on a special day, also known as a wedding. For Sara and Blair Riffel, the phrase has echoed throughout their commitment to their communities. Read more about how Nebraska Children's Connected Youth Initiative Vice President, Sara Riffel, and her husband Blair put their heads and hearts together to spread holiday cheer.

Meet Denise Daugherty “Now I do what makes me happy. I’m not worried about others. The reason I got into trouble was that I needed to love and protect people.” Denise Daughtery reveals how she pushed beyond foster care and incarceration and into her dreams with Beyond School Bells, Connected Youth Initiative, and Central Plains Center for Services' coaching and support. Read more.

Wendy Gwennap, the Early Childhood Community Coordinator for Adams County, admits that before she started her position, she was unaware of the challenges migrant Spanish-speaking families face when they come to the U.S. “I was ignorant of what they go

Our Impact This Year

  • Children/Young Adults Served in 2020

    Over 9,000

  • Parents Supported in 2020

    Over 4,300

  • Service Professionals Trained in 2020

    Nearly 300

  • Counties Working with Bring Up Nebraska

    75 and Growing

© 2023 Bring Up Nebraska Initiative

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