Nebraska City has much to celebrate, and that certainly includes the work of the Nebraska City Community Foundation Fund. Over the past 20 years, the fund has dispersed more than $5 Million to local projects. And, as the fund enters its third decade, members are taking time to reflect on the many ways the fund has helped the community.
"The primary way, since the beginning, that we have carried out every year, is through the awarding of non-traditional scholarships," Nebraska City Community Foundation Fund Secretary Denise Davis said. "These scholarships go to individuals in the community who want to continue their education after perhaps a lapse of a couple of years." Several checks for $2,000 each were handed out at a recent banquet to celebrate the fund's 20th anniversary. The money will most certainly help students like Malarie Cutler. She's going back to school to get an associates degree in business administration. "There's not a lot out there for non-traditional students," Cutler said. "You can go through pages and pages of scholarships, but they are usually for people right out of high school. So, this has been phenomenal. It's really helped out myself and my family." Randi Meade is also getting a boost to her education thanks to the Nebraska City Community Foundation Fund. She's going back to school to achieve her dream of working in the medical field, after running an in-home daycare. "Currently my husband is working and supporting us," Meade said. "So the money is very beneficial, since I'm no longer running a licensed daycare. It will help with books, tuition and gas money."
Along with the mission of investing in people, the Nebraska City Community Foundation Fund has made a clear effort to include young people in the giving process. Kiel VanderVeen got connected with the fund as a sophomore in high school. "Being involved with the youth advisory committee at a young age, did make me feel like I was giving back to the community," VanderVeen said. He says getting kids involved is important to a town's future success. "If kid or a young adult can see they can make an impact and give back, they are going to be more connected to their community and more likely to want to return when they are an adult."
Chloe Higgins is a sophomore at UNL, and has been working with the local community fund since her 7th grade year. During her time with the youth advisory committee, she helped fund a city-wide app to support local tourism, and the committee donated to a local reading program. In her senior year of high school, she says the youth advisory committee helped with yet another big project. "We received a total of $14,000 in grant money from the state foundation and the local foundation to create a leadership academy at Nebraska City High School and Lourdes Central Catholic, which is the other high school here," Higgins said.
Through the efforts, the Nebraska City Community Foundation Fund has certainly enjoyed two decades of giving, and improving the local quality of life. "I was born and raised in Nebraska City," Davis said. "I was gone for a long time. I'm what is called a 'returner' if you will, and I really embrace the opportunity to re-engage in my community, and I really love investing in people. Local leaders with the community fund hope to continue making that investment for years to come. "It's just great to be involved at the grass-roots level like this," Davis said.