The Nebraska Community Foundation works with community, organizational and donor-advised affiliated funds serving 250 communities located in 80 counties. NCF and its affiliated funds have reinvested $269 million in Nebraska since 1994.
“We don’t give luggage to our graduating high school seniors any more,” said Mo Wenke, a FAC member with the Pender-Thurston Education and Community Foundation Fund, “Traditional scholarships can be a ticket out of town.”
Every year, many generous Nebraska communities give young people resources to go away to college. More often than not, these young people do not return to their home towns.
Increasingly, NCF affiliated funds are realizing that it’s better to offer non-traditional scholarships to adults who have put down roots and are working at a job where they could better themselves with additional education and training or to use scholarships to encourage young people to come back home.
The Nebraska City Community Foundation Fund FAC believes one of the best investments they can make is in non-traditional students. For example, one recipient wanted to become a teacher. The financial award did help her pay for college. More valuable, she says, was the support from the community that motivated her to return to school and stay in Nebraska City.
Since the Nebraska City FAC implemented this focus on non-traditional students several years ago, nearly 90% of Nebraska City’s scholarship winners have stayed in the community. One recipient publicly expressed her desire to repay the scholarship someday—“paying it forward” for a future recipient.
In O’Neill, the estates of Mary and Margaret Linhart provided the Youth Scholar College Scholarship Fund a large gift to fund college scholarships. This innovative scholarship fund targets non-traditional students and high school students who express a sincere desire to come back to the community after they graduate from college. Holt County has identified the workforce needs in their area for the next 10 years and can tell the students with some certainty there will be a job waiting for them when they return.
Other community members in Holt County are taking note of the strategic way the local affiliated funds are allocating their resources. This has inspired more community donors to specify that their gifts be used exclusively for strategic purposes such as supporting entrepreneurship and people attraction.
Malissa Stec (second from left) joins Rock County Community Fund Advisory Committee members Larry Buell, Homer Buell, Ann Dvorak, and Dennis Swanson at an information booth at the Sandhills Ranch Expo. Stec was drawn as the winner of $500 that she could designate to a charitable organization. She donated the prize back to the Fund.Read more →