Women Investing in Nebraska awards annual grants to help

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Grants aimed at foster care transitions and encouraging women to pursue IT

Sept. 16, 2013 — With its goal to address critical community needs and to make a local impact with philanthropy, Women Investing in Nebraska (WIN) has awarded two grants to Nebraska nonprofit groups totaling $153,500. One grant supports young people who are transitioning out of foster care, and a second grant will help encourage more women to pursue information technology career fields.

WIN awarded the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation $76,750 to help young people at risk because they are transitioning from foster care to independent adult life. The grant supports Project Everlast, an innovative partnership that specifically works with those who are aging out of the foster care system. This grant will help the organization to expand its successful program to Lincoln and northeast Nebraska.

According to the foundation and its national partner, the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, there is a critical need for the project. Young adults leaving foster care are less likely to earn a high school diploma and less likely to pursue higher education or job training. They are also more likely to experience homelessness, have chronic health issues, have a child in their teens or early 20s and become involved with the criminal justice system.

Project Everlast helps these at-risk individuals by providing a collaborative system of care and service support. This support includes providing an adult mentor who can help them access available community support programs. It will help provide access to education and training so young adults can obtain employment and self-sufficiency while also ensuring access to affordable housing and health care services.

Wendy Van, vice president of development for Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, said the grant will enable Project Everlast to provide support to those who are at a critical time in their life.

“These important funds will be put to work right away to help support young people within foster care who are transitioning to adulthood,” Van said. “We all want Nebraska’s young people to get a great start in life, and Project Everlast will support individuals who need extra support from their community to find connections, permanency and opportunities to thrive. Everyone involved is grateful to Women Investing in Nebraska, especially the young people whose lives will be touched.”

WIN awarded the University of Nebraska at Omaha Women and IT Engagement $76,750 to support the volunteer organization of faculty, staff, students and community members that seeks to recruit, retain and support women interested in information technology studies at the UNO College of Information Science and Technology (IS&T), as well as fulfilling careers in IT.

The grant will be used to further develop IS&T’s overall effort to form a diverse workforce pipeline by encouraging girls and young women to pursue their interests in technology. While over 50 percent of the professional workforce is comprised of women, they make up less than 25 percent of the workforce in technology fields. At the college level, only about 18 percent of graduates in technology-related majors are women.

This grant funding will support four programs, including a camp for middle school girls to excite them about possibilities in IT, creation of the Aspirations in Computing Award for high school women to encourage them to pursue IT, scholarship awards to promote the study of IT at UNO and a mentoring program to support college students.

Stacie Petter, who helps lead the project and is associate professor of information systems and quantitative analysis at UNO, said the grant from Women Investing in Nebraska helps to communicate that fellow women recognize the need to encourage young women to consider careers in information technology.

“The UNO Women and IT Engagement Link understands the importance of not only filling the IT pipeline, but diversifying it as well,” Petter said. “Our group has made it a priority to inspire more women to discover opportunities in IT and pursue studies at UNO’s College of Information Science and Technology. This WIN award will help create a positive movement in Nebraska that will influence the global IT career landscape. To each member of WIN, thank you for choosing to invest in Nebraska’s future talent of women.”

About the grant awards, Lisa Smith, chair of the Women Investing in Nebraska executive committee, said, “Our grant investments with these two organizations means more young people will successfully transition from foster care in Nebraska and more young women will pursue careers in information technology. Women Investing in Nebraska could not be more pleased with these promises and are excited to witness the results of our philanthropy.”

The goal of WIN is to provide philanthropic support to Nebraska groups striving to address critical community needs or wishing to make a significant local or state impact. The organization was established in 2011 by the University of Nebraska Foundation and its women in philanthropy committee to connect women and involve them in local philanthropy. Members of WIN pledge to make a gift each year for three years. Its members then vote to grant 50 percent of their combined annual contributions to a Nebraska nonprofit organization and 50 percent to a University of Nebraska organization or group.

WIN is seeking new members interested in becoming involved and is currently offering a special membership program for women age 40 and younger. To learn more about membership and upcoming events, see womeninvestinginnebraska.org or contact Tracy Edgerton at 402-458-1160 or 800-432-3216.

The University of Nebraska Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization raising private gifts to support the University of Nebraska for more than 75 years. In 2012, donors provided the university with $165 million for scholarships, medical and other research, academic programs, faculty and buildings. All foundation funds are donor designated. The foundation’s comprehensive fundraising campaign, the Campaign for Nebraska, has raised more than $1.2 billion for the university and concludes in 2014. For more information, visit campaignfornebraska.org.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Robb Crouch, 402-458-1142, rcrouch@nufoundation.org.

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