Inviting them home: “We quit giving our kids luggage for graduation.”

No one in the NCF network seems to know the origin of this wonderful quip, but it becomes a call to action once our affiliated fund leaders learn the results of surveys of more than 6,000 rural youth conducted by NCF. The main points: Kids love where they live. They think it’s a great place to grow up. More than half would consider returning for a career opportunity. And more than 40 percent are interested in owning their own business. Unfortunately, the vast majority say no one has ever asked them to share their views about their hometown. 

Hometowns in Greater Nebraska need to reach out to people who already live here… young people. Communities in the NCF network are doing this in different ways. 

Some affiliated funds give each of their high school graduates a personalized mailbox and an invitation to return. Others offer scholarships to non-traditional students who are already living and working in the community to further their education and increase their skills. In Nebraska City and McCook, youth committees play a part in making decisions regarding grant awards. Makerspaces are being installed in libraries and schools. And in a growing number of places, the arts are being offered as an avenue for younger people to become engaged in their hometown. Some of these activities cost little more than the time it takes to show our future leaders they have a place in the future of their hometown.