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.
11/19/2016, World-Herald editorial
Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln recently studied the demographic history in Nebraska’s non-metropolitan counties from 1950 to 2010. They found that a net outmigration of young people in their 20s has been a consistent pattern in many rural communities in each of the six decades.
The “brain drain” challenge, in other words, has been with us for quite a long time.
But the study provides encouragement on another aspect. The researchers found that in recent decades many rural Nebraska communities saw a net inflow of young people in their 30s, sometimes in significant numbers, as young adults settle down and look to start a family.
The lesson, then, is for communities to build on their strengths, engage their teenagers, stay in contact with young people who leave, and share information about local opportunities.
The benefits from such a strategy are familiar to many forward-looking Nebraska communities.
The Nebraska Community Foundation, in its latest annual report, points to well-done marketing and recruitment projects in communities including Kimball, Neligh and McCook. Other standouts include Holt County, with its outreach to its high schoolers, and Norfolk, with impressive strategies to connect with and bring home native sons and daughters. The task isn’t easy, but outreach to young couples as part of an overall strategy makes great sense for rural communities.