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Year 1 Prosper Lincoln Early Childhood Successes

1. Building relationships and partnerships in the early childhood arena while sharing the Prosper Lincoln early childhood agenda - Michelle Suarez has already met with over 100 representatives from more than 60 community organizations to share the Prosper Lincoln early childhood agenda and learn about the strengths, challenges and recommendations for early childhood in Lincoln.

We know that the early years lay the very foundation for one’s life and great things are happening for many young children in Lincoln. We also know that many children are in need of high-quality early learning care and experiences and that is why the Prosper Lincoln early childhood agenda is so important to the future health and prosperity of our community.   

The people involved in providing services to young children in Lincoln are doing heroic and inspiring work every day. They agree that we can build on the strengths of our work as we collaborate in a collective impact framework to educate our community about the importance of the early years and create additional capacity to ensure services for all children.

Partnership Accomplishments include:

  • Planning an early childhood conference for June 17, 2017
  • Participating in the Lincoln Public Schools Strategic Plan Community Study Team
  • Creating connections with and among partners as we increase communication around common goals and strategies


2. Helping to build the business roundtable to create awareness and advocacy for investment in early childhood - A Business Roundtable Recruitment breakfast was held on January 11, 2017, in partnership with the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and Dividends Nebraska. Over 100 business leaders were privileged to learn about the importance of brain development in the early years from Dr. Marjorie Kostelnik, Dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.   

Several key presenters shared messages at the recent recruitment breakfast for Dividends Nebraska. Dividends Nebraska is a state-wide group of business leaders who are committed to making early childhood a priority for Nebraska public and private investments. Presenters included: Wendy Birdsall, Dean Kostelnik, Mayor Chris Beutler, Dr. Steve Joel, Jim Krieger, Drew Theophilus and Tom Smith. Feedback received included this quote from a participant: “…it was a great event and very well attended by a variety of great community leaders. I think the greatest benefit of the event was informing these leaders about early childhood and why it is so important for our community. Thanks for your leadership and commitment to this worthy cause and let’s keep the momentum moving forward!”

Next steps include the creation of a blueprint of how business leaders can engage with and support investments in early childhood.


3. Supporting the creation of an early childhood network to promote cross-sector coordination and advocacy for young children in Lincoln - An Early Childhood System of Care (ECSOC) community mapping project is underway in Lincoln in February and March. Prosper Lincoln is partnering with the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation’s Rooted in Relationships program (Lincoln is in the second year of this initiative that partners with communities to implement evidence-based practices that enhance social-emotional development of children) and the Nebraska Association for the Education of Young Children to bring together a broad array of early care providers to map participant perspectives around four themes: early childhood mental health; health; family resources; and schools.

Our goal is to create a Lincoln Early Childhood Network that will bring organizations together to promote cross-sector coordination and advocacy for young children. Over 100 participants registered to attend the February 9 and March 6 ECSOC meetings from many community organizations who serve young children.     

In order to guide the work of the Lincoln Early Childhood Network, we are gathering stakeholders to complete an assessment of existing services and supports for young children and their families. The array of services assessed include health, family resources, early childhood mental health and schools.

Provider results will be compared with parent perspectives gathered from over 700 families to identify community priorities for action. 

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