Afterschool and Summer Programs: Beyond School Bells Thinks Outside of the Box and Beyond School Hours

Beyond School Bells, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation’s Middle Childhood team has had a busy, productive, and transformative year. This initiative has long promoted our mission to create a Nebraska where all children, youth, and families thrive – through quality afterschool and summer programs

Beyond School Bells (BSB) work shows how quality afterschool and summer programs are alive, well, and thriving in our state, which is how we envision every child’s life. 

Earlier this year, BSB hosted its annual community-partners gathering, which included a Breakfast Briefing hosted by Senator Lynn Walz and attended by senators and legislative staff.

Senators and legislative staff attended Beyond School Bells’ Breakfast Briefing. Anna Wishart, (left), Director of Parternships, was among those in attendance.

Late last year, BSB co-hosted alongside NE Dept of Education and Nebraska Extension, the 2019 GetConnected Conference, Nebraska’s largest gathering of afterschool and summer learning professionals.  

Jeff Cole, Beyond School Bells’ Network Lead, presents longevity awards to school program directors.

BSB continues to undergo major growth, including supporting successful afterschool programs in more and more communities across the state.  To keep you up-to-speed on this rapidly growing afterschool initiative, we’ve highlighted some important upcoming events. 

Afterschool and Summer Learning: What’s Happening Next for Nebraska?

Beyond School Bells is proud to announce the launch of the Nebraska Expanded Learning Opportunity (ELO) Innovation Network, a nationally unique partnership with the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) to enhance learning across our state. This initiative’s goal is to connect, support, and enhance Nebraska’s growing ELO community.

The ELO Innovation Network will provide support to new and existing afterschool and summer programs and promote innovative new ELO programming options. This new Network is funded through proceeds from the Nebraska Lottery by way of a one-year grant to BSB from NDE and leveraged from local and national funders.

Boone County’s Cardinal Kids Club (CKC) was among this year’s participants in Beyond School Bells’ Design Challenge.

The Nebraska ELO Innovation Network will consist of two new grant opportunities:

(1) ELO Incubator Grants – these one-year grants are intended to help jump-start new or recently launched afterschool and summer programs in underserved communities that, when supplemented by local resources, can become locally sustainable.

(2) Centers of ELO Excellence Grants – these one-year grants support the existing school and community-based ELO programs. This initiative showcases and shares best practices in programming, staffing, and partnership development. Centers of Excellence grants are intended to build capacity and grow statewide ELO programs’ abilities to offer regular PD and coaching opportunities that present ELO Innovations to statewide audiences.

We are very excited about this new opportunity that supports ELO programs in Nebraska. Click here to visit our website for a full overview, requirements, and applications for the Nebraska ELO Innovation Network grant program.

Afterschool Programs Grow the Good Life with Tree-A-Thon 

This spring, BSB is partnering with the Arbor Day Foundation, Natural Resource Districts, Nebraska Forest Service, Afterschool providers, the Mayor's offices, and other key partners from across the state. Together, these collaborators will launch a statewide Tree-A-Thon where Nebraska's youth will work with their communities to plant over 20,000 trees on this Arbor Day weekend, April 24-26.

Through working alongside students from UNL’s School of Natural Resources, BSB developed an easy-to-implement, action-oriented afterschool curriculum. This program may either facilitate eight-week clubs or one-day deep dives to prepare youth for this tree-planting opportunity. The event presents a chance for youth to positively impact their communities, raise awareness about the importance of afterschool, and initiate programs that resonate with young people across Nebraska.

In addition to engaging local experts to support the planting events, participating communities will receive a grant to pay for staff time, tree purchases, curriculum, and other supplies to support this endeavor.

Please email Anna Wishart at to register your program to participate.  

Subscribe to our Blog

Learn more about Beyond School Bells

Nebraska Children's mission is to maximize the potential of Nebraska’s children, youth, and families through collaboration and community-centered impact.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Middle Childhood, News and Events

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: