By Jenny Skala, Vice President of Community Impact
Every nonprofit organization has a mission. And the more focused that mission is, the easier it is to see the way forward. I mean, if your mission is to ensure that the local symphony orchestra has a strong operating budget, your task is clear (though not always easy): raise money. But the bigger the mission, the more complicated to road to success is.
At Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, our mission is as big as they come. To create positive change for Nebraska’s children through community engagement.
How do you even start on a mission like that? What does positive change even mean? And what about that “community engagement” bit?
The mission is big because the need is big. And it’s open-ended because what “positive change” looks like changes depending on the community. Some communities deal with a high-drop out rate and others with a shortage of early learning facilities. Some have a lot of children at risk for school failure, and others have insufficient resources for their foster youth. So the change we look to create is the change that a particular community needs.
As for community engagement, we engage all the voices who should be at the table. It’s our Nebraska Impact model, and it’s based on the understanding that each community holds all the raw material to solve its problems.
Our Nebraska Impact model taps all the resources that can make a difference to the community’s desire for change, amplifies their abilities and focuses their efforts toward a common goal. Watch this video for a clear explanation of Nebraska Impact:
Why Nebraska Impact?
Because complex social issues like child abuse, early childhood education, the educational achievement gap, and homelessness need collaborative solution. No organization – no matter how well intentioned or well funded – can take on the systemic nature of these challenges without leveraging all the relevant resources.
How do we do it?
Our approach engages all of the important players, including nontraditional stakeholders and disenfranchised voices in a community. We mobilize them toward one common goal, centralize coordination of their efforts and help secure the funding required to move the needle on complex social issues facing the community’s children. The result of these efforts is a community-based organization that supports, strengthens and amplifies the efforts of all contributing parties.
Does it work?
In a word, yes. Look at Fremont. It’s a remarkable community that we were able to help bring together and support to address the most critical issues facing their children.
We’re seeing the same kind of results at our Sixpence Early Learning Fund sites. We administer the funds and provide training, resources and technical assistance. And the results are nothing short of astonishing. Schools, parents, para-educators, and home visitation professionals make sure that the lives of the at-risk children in their care are met both in school and at home.
So, let’s keep engaging Nebraska.
If you’d like to see what our Nebraska Impact approach can do in your community, contact me. I would love to talk about how we can work together to make a life-changing difference for your kids.