“We, the people” includes our youngest Americans, too. Nowhere has Civic Nebraska’s momentum been more apparent than in our Youth Civic Leadership programs, which expanded to serve more than 1,500 students a day in 2019. In addition to our four existing Community Learning Centers in Lincoln and Omaha, we became the lead agency at three brand-new CLCs in Lincoln – Randolph Elementary, Lincoln High, and Lincoln Northeast High. Meanwhile, we added capacity at our existing CLCs including summer activities, and launched a third service-learning club to build media literacy and communication abilities for middle schoolers.
We do this because introducing youths to civic engagement allows them to more easily develop critical thinking, civic leadership, and civil discourse skills. Engaged, informed citizens must be able to evaluate situations and then take action for positive change. Students who can think critically about, and make meaning of, societal issues are better able to navigate their individual environments – and succeed in them.
Such skills have immense transformative power. They are the cornerstones of active, productive citizenship in our democratic society. Through our growing Youth Civic Leadership work, Civic Nebraska empowers more and more young people to critically and creatively engage with the world. And work to improve it.
A big part of the CLC is letting children know that their voices matter. They are the future. It’s our job to teach them lifelong skills so that they can be positive citizens. I like making a difference in their lives, one day at a time.
I was an at-risk youth. I was a foster kid. But here’s what I’ve learned: You don’t have to be a product of your environment. You can beat those odds, just like I did. Today I work to be that positive voice, that voice of reason for our children.
Because there is good in all things. I make it my job to find the good in all kids.
Growing up I was always told, “Be quiet.” Or “Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Sit back.” Nowadays, we have to listen to the kids. You need to let them use their voices. Kids are learning to confide in you because of the relationship (we form).
When I was young there were negative adults in my family, but there were always outside people who were positive. I’m working to be that outside person to these children today.
I’ve always loved 24th Street in Omaha. It’s Lothrop’s neighborhood. Back in the day, kids could walk up and down the street and be safe. I think it’s important that we get the community back that way. Part of that is allowing them to invest in it. We say “You own this. This is your community.”
Today, children can tell us how they want to learn. And we teach them lifelong skills – how to take charge of their community.
We’ve built a safe and welcoming place here. A place to be, to learn, and to grow.
Civic Nebraska is making a difference. And I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of it.
ALL RISE: 2019 ANNUAL REPORT