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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.

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

How do Nebraska Children and Families Foundation and partners create positive change? We work through and with our communities, especially our young people. As far as we’re concerned, they are the catalysts for transformation! Thanks to the power of CYI and Beyond School Bells, our afterschool network, Jessi said that she and our partners put CARES Act dollars to good use. Now, young leaders are changing children's lives for the better!

We're so glad that our staff and Connected Youth Initiative participants joined leaders from across the nation for a two-day LEAP convening on November 3-4, hosted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and organized by LEAP Young Fellows and partners.  Read more about how LEAP creates positive change for young people who experienced foster care.

We’re glad to have rung in another successful Changemakers, an annual celebration of the positive change happening throughout Nebraska. We're especially thankful to you for joining Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, along with our many supporters.  Read more about all the positive change you've helped us create.

Meet Nedhal, Nebraska's new young leader: “Helping more than I could before in the foster care system is amazing. I’m hoping I can better prepare young adults to feel comfortable being on their own and becoming an adult.”   

Fear of change can be hard . . . in fact so hard that Forbes reports 62% of us would rather remain in our comfort zone even if change might mean something better for us. When it comes to childcare,

Starting in March 2020, Nebraska Children and partners listened to these young people’s voices. One thing became apparent – they wanted to be heard and find ways to meet their needs. Together, we and our co-collaborators leveraged our supports in response to these essential needs and challenges. Read about the headway we and our partners have made to respond to young people impacted by COVID-19.

Afterschool’s Impact: “It Prepared Me for Being a Leader in the Adult World; I Have No Fear of Leading Adult Men or Women in STEM.” Read more about Kathy.

When Lauren Mott walked into her first job at an afterschool program, she saw children who became restless due to being unengaged.  Wordlessly, she came into the classroom the next day with a box of supplies, sat down by herself at a table, and began making friendship bracelets.  Read more about how this moment and others sparked Lauren's passion for STEM diversity and afterschool learning.

The Nebraska Children team worked overtime with equally hardworking providers to ensure they received almost $10 million in CARES Act funding.

When the pandemic struck, early childhood programs found themselves in dire straits. With fluctuating enrollments, mortgages to pay, and children to care for, the future of childcare seemed unpredictable. Read about how Nebraska Children's expert early childhood team worked with providers and owners of early childhood programs like Cory Quimby to ensure they could see through to the end of the pandemic.

Today, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation’s afterschool initiative, Beyond School Bells, and many hardworking partners aren’t just growing greens. That is to say, the Greenery is not your typical afterschool program. Read about how we're changing the face of afterschool.

We can't wait for you to join us on Tuesday, October 26 at 11:30 am for Changemakers, featuring our keynote speaker, educator, and activist Liz Dozier!

You support Nebraska Children through attending our yearly fundraisers, including Perfect Pour. Thanks to you, we made this year’s event and craft cocktail competition even sweeter by sampling our state’s leading mixologists’ Tequila Avion drinks, which was this year’s mixer of choice. Read about this year's event!

From providing resources for parents' mental health to encouraging toddlers' and infants' developmental well-being, Sixpence home visitors help families thrive! Sixpence is a Nebraska Children early childhood initiative for children prenatal through 3. Read how home visitor Janelle Anderson works with her families to move through mental health issues, find housing, and developmentally engage their children:

As we move into a new Nebraska, we envision childcare providers AND children thriving in every way possible.

It’s in the bag: Lyndsey Witte, a Sixpence home visitor, brings comfort and creativity to families during the pandemic. Sixpence is a Nebraska Children early childhood initiative that works with families, schools, and children from prenatal to three to create developmentally stimulating learning environments. Read about how Lyndsey found creative ways to engage her families during a difficult time.

Read some testimonials from Sixpence families and home visitors. Thanks to their collaboration and hard work, kids thrive! Sixpence is a Nebraska Children early childhood initiative that creates high-quality learning opportunities for children ages prenatal through three. Thanks to these families' and home visitors' efforts, they pushed through the difficult times during the height of the pandemic.

If you’re a regular reader of the PDG newsletter, you’ll be aware of the collaborative efforts between organizations connected to grant initiatives, collaborations built on sometimes small moments of communication. A few that have been highlighted in the newsletter arose

The third summer session of Camp Catch-Up kicked off from July 28-29, this time, with 40 campers. Camp Catch-Up is a Connected Youth Initiative (CYI) program that reunites siblings between the ages of 8-19 who were separated due to foster care placements.  

Meet Amanda Gutierrez. Amanda is passionate about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). She’s planning on being an astronautical engineer. Amanda is also one of the newest members of the Million Girls Moonshot (MGM) Advisory Board. MGM is a multi-year, national initiative organized by STEMNext to increase the presence of women of color and other underrepresented groups in STEM. STEMNext awarded an MGM grant to Beyond School Bells (BSB), Nebraska Children's initiative supporting afterschool and summer learning in Nebraska. Read about why STEM is Amanda's passion and how a trip to the moon might be in her future.  

If you want to open a childcare center at the start of a global pandemic, you can refer to Kyla Habrock and Nebraska Children and Families Foundation’s Sixpence Child Care Partnership Program made possible by a partnership with Hastings Public Schools.  Learn more about how during the pandemic, Kyla, her talents, and the Sixpence Child Care Partnership Program ALL helped her open her new center!

There are no easy answers to bridging the gap between the increasing number of bilingual families in Nebraska and a childcare system that can’t always provide the support they need. Some communities have no Spanish-speaking providers in areas with a

When life gives you rain, you play foosball. 

Such was the case for this year’s Camp Catch-Up (CCU), anyway, which is no stranger to obstacles. 

A Nebraska Children and Families Foundation program that operates within Connected Youth Initiative (CYI), CCU remains as resilient as its campers. 

Throughout the pandemic, the CCU staff continued to find creative, innovative ways to reunite siblings between the ages of 8-19 separated by the foster care system. 

This year’s first Camp Catch-Up summer session, Camp Moses-Merrill, kicked off in Linwood, Nebraska from June 10-13. Read more about how campers and staff enjoyed creating fun, tie-dye shirts, and memories!

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

© 2022 Bring Up Nebraska Initiative

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