Strengthening Democracy: Jeff Cole, Beyond School Bells

Civic Nebraska honors Jeff Cole and Beyond School Bells for investing in programs that benefit the young people and families Civic Nebraska serves. Join us April 12 for Strengthening Democracy Awards.


Each year, Civic Nebraska’s Strengthening Democracy Awards recognize Nebraskans whose work embodies the spirit of a modern, robust democracy. Among our 2018 honorees are educators, administrators, students and everyday Nebraskans. We officially honor the winners April 12, but before then, here’s a chance to learn a bit more about what makes them special.

Outstanding Youth Engagement Program Award

Civic Nebraska honors Jeff Cole, associate vice president for school-community partnerships with Beyond School Bells, and his organization with the 2018 Outstanding Youth Engagement Program Award for investing in programs that benefit the young people and families Civic Nebraska serves.

Beyond School Bells is at the forefront of the national movement to enrich the hours students spend outside of school and provides research, professional development, and motivation for extended-learning opportunities. Most recently, Cole was instrumental in Civic Nebraska acquiring two Think, Make, Create mobile makerspaces for Omaha and Lincoln students.

Jeff Cole

“Jeff has been a friend to Civic Nebraska from the beginning, and has been a partner in both ideas and implementation,” said Kent Day, Civic Nebraska’s director of civic engagement programs. “Jeff has invested in Civic Nebraska to pilot programs that have benefited not only our organization, but most importantly, the young people and families that we serve.”

Since 2006, Cole has been the network lead for Beyond School Bells, a program of Nebraska Children and Families Foundation. Beyond School Bells builds partnerships that lead to state and local policies and actions that result in more high-quality, locally sustainable expanded-learning opportunity programs for youths.

Cole coordinated after-school and summer learning opportunities at New York City’s High School for Environmental Studies before coming to Nebraska. He then became public engagement director at the Foundation For Lincoln Public Schools, where he helped launch Lincoln’s Community Learning Center initiative. Civic Nebraska coordinates two Lincoln CLCs — at Dawes Middle School and Campbell Elementary.

“We deeply appreciate Jeff’s knowledge and enthusiasm and look forward to a long and positive partnership,” Day said.

Meet Jeff Cole and his fellow honorees at this year’s Strengthening Democracy Awards on April 12 at Chez Hay in Lincoln. Get your tickets here.

One of Civic Nebraska’s two Think, Make, Create mobile makerspaces, made possible through Beyond School Bells. (Courtesy University of Nebraska Communications)

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After School Programs

  • Sherman Elementary School

    5618 N 14th Ave.
    Omaha, NE 68110

  • Lewis and Clark Middle School

    6901 Burt St.
    Omaha, NE 68132

  • Lothrop Magnet Elementary

    3300 N. 22nd St.
    Omaha, NE 68110

  • Campbell Elementary School

    2200 Dodge St.
    Lincoln, NE 68521

  • Lincoln High School

    2229 J St.
    Lincoln, NE 68510

  • Lincoln Northeast High School

    2635 N. 63rd St.
    Lincoln, NE 68507