Back to Articles


Connecting middle school students (employees of the future)  with local employers

Angie Plugge, principal of Dawes Middle School, recently contacted our Prosper Lincoln Employment Skills Developers. The school wants to create better a connection between their students and local businesses and careers, and had a feeling Bryan Seck and Mike Milbourn could help them do that.

On November 15, representatives from three local businesses - Kawasaki, Lincoln Industries and Pixel Bakery -  joined Seck and Milbourn to visit with Dawes' entire student body.​

To kick off the presentation, Seck asked "Who likes to make stuff?" and "Who likes to create cartoons and graphic designs?" He told the students they can do these as a future career, right here in Lincoln.

The three employer representatives then shared information about their business and career paths.

Lincoln's Kawasaki facility produces all-terrain vehicles, utility vehicles, personal watercraft, recreation utility vehicles and passenger rail cars, which are shipped throughout North America and exported to countries around the globe. Kevin Mattran, Trainer/Workforce Learning and Performance Specialist, shared the skills needed to work at Kawasaki.

Lincoln Industries is the largest and most diverse privately-held metal finishing company in North America. Kristi Oltman, Human Resources Director, answered questions about career options.

Pixel Bakery is a tech start up focused on animation and website design. Co-founder and Head of Motion, Jordan Lambrecht, showcased some work examples.

Dawes Middle School has very defined student learning goals. Plugge says "In order to accomplish these goals we will collaborate with students, families, and our community partners  to 'relentlessly engage' each student in developing a clear blueprint for a successful life. All Dawes students will know who they are, what they want to become, and how to obtain the skills, knowledge, and experiences to achieve their personal goals." This meeting with students was a notable step on their goal pathway.  

So what's next? Dawes' 8th grade students will soon take field trips to each business to see their work in action. And in case the students' parents are looking to improve their own career, the school will also hold a parent night event. Recruiters from these three businesses and others will be on hand to share details on their current open positions and the skills/experience needed to become an employee.

North Star High School heard about the Dawes presentation and wants to hold its own. Our Prosper Lincoln Employment Skills Developers work to connect businesses hiring current and future team members. That's what we mean when we say Prosper Lincoln will provide opportunities for people to realize career aspirations.

Quotes From Our Supporters

Prosper Lincoln is one of the most exciting community engagement and community-building efforts happening in the country.  It’s a real model!

Dan Cramer, Co-founder, Grassroots Solutions, St. Paul, MN

Prosper Lincoln will not only benefit all of your kids and your community; it is also a model for similar efforts around the country, thanks to the leadership of LCF.

Richard Ober, President & CEO, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation; Founder Community Foundation Opportunity Network; Concord, NH

Communities across the US are searching for innovative initiatives to improve economic opportunity and mobility.  We can all learn from the amazing work of Prosper Lincoln!

Brian Collier, Executive Vice President, Foundation for the Carolinas

Prosper Lincoln is breaking new ground in economic revitalization without displacement.

Ellen Shepard, CEO, Allies, Chicago, IL

To see an entire community come together to ensure all Lincoln residents are successful is very inspirational.  Congratulations!

Nancy Van Milligen, President/CEO, Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, Dubuque, IA

In my regional and national work in community development this is one of the most unique and exciting strategies for true change I have seen!

Del Gines, Senior Community Development Advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Omaha, NE

Bringing together a multi-sector group of committed Lincoln residents will support prosperity for all.  Congratulations on this excellent collaboration.

Holly C. Sampson, President, Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, Duluth, MN

Diverse voices from across Lincoln came together so that current and future generations can thrive. This is no small feat, and it’s inspiring to see that collective vision inch closer to fruition. You can consider yourselves a model for other communities starting to embark on this work.

Megan Powers, International Program Officer, The McKnight Foundation Minneapolis, MN

There is no better example of the power of convening than Prosper Lincoln! Bringing together members of the community from all walks of life to enrich the City is inspiring.

Regine Webster, Vice President Center for Disaster Philanthropy, Washington, DC

Prosper Lincoln is creating a national model for building vibrant, equitable and resilient communities.  Systems thinking + the right resources!

Sandy Wiggins, Chair, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) Washington, DC

Prosper Lincoln is an important approach to solving community problems. By bringing together local businesses, nonprofits, neighborhoods, government and faith organizations, they are bridging divides, building connections, and sparking opportunities in way that shows true community engagement.

Vikki Spruill, President and CEO, Council on Foundations

This is one of the most impressive community focus efforts I have seen. You are making considerable progress!

Cynthia Hardin Milligan, Trustee and former Chair of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Battle Creek, MI

Lincoln is one of a few cities across America where citizens and leaders from across different sectors have come together to tackle their community’s most complex challenges. Your ability to already show results and persevere is inspiring.

Ben Hecht, President and CEO of Living Cities, Washington, DC

Solving tough national problems like the opportunity gap begins locally, and Prosper Lincoln is leading the way.

Robert D. Putnam, Professor of Public Policy and author, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

There is nothing more powerful in securing a community’s long-term health than evolving a shared vision through community engagement. Congratulations!

Rip Rapson, President, The Kresge Foundation, Detroit, MI