Strengthening Democracy Awards: Outstanding Youth Engagement Program


We are highlighting the award winners for our Strengthening Democracy Awards on April 30th at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Lincoln. Buy your tickets here.

In after school programs, students and families assess the quality of a program with their attendance. Staying at school after classes are finished is voluntary, so if a program is not engaging students simply do not stay.

Dawes Middle School students have very clearly voted on Karen Bell-Dancy’s program and there is a waiting list to get in. That waiting list testifies to an effective program that both students and families love. Moreover, the program is serving the Dawes community with service projects such as their new community garden.

Karen and her team are experts at gathering partners who bring resources to the school in order to enrich the experience of all Dawes CLC students. The Dawes Community Learning Center has partnerships with UNL Extension, Community Crops, Teach a Kid to Fish, Nebraska-Weselyan University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Girl Scouts of Nebraska, Watershed Dept – City of Lincoln, Aetna, Lied Center for Performing Arts, Health Dept, and Duncan Aviation.

Because of the dedication to providing high-quality programming provided to engage and enrich student time after school, the Community Learning Center at Dawes Middle School is this year’s Outstanding Youth Engagement Program.



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Jake Kirkland, Jr.

Greetings Karen,

Congratulations! You and your team are to be commended for the outstanding work you do for the students and families of Dawes Middle School and the Lincoln community.


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