JAG Nebraska and Columbus Area United Way Join Forces to Empower Students

JAG Nebraska and Columbus Area United Way Join Forces to Empower Students

In the landscape of education and community empowerment, strategic collaborations have the potential to ignite profound transformation. A recent example of this synergy is the partnership between JAG Nebraska, the Columbus Area United Way (CAUW) and Community and Family Partnership – highlighting their joint dedication to fostering both student growth and community welfare.

This groundbreaking partnership is not merely symbolic; it’s action-oriented and results-driven. In a move that speaks volumes about their dedication, CAUW allocated $10,000 to support students in mastering the art of grant writing and responsible resource distribution. This isn’t just about financial aid; it’s about empowering the next generation with tangible skills and experiences that transcend the classroom.

“Early in the school year we were in the classroom with JAG students and heard from them on their concerns of mental health needs among students,” said Roberta Miksch, Collective Impact Director at Columbus Area United Way. “We wanted to bring the voice of youth into this important work, get their input and allow them an opportunity to be the voice in deciding which mini-grant applications they felt were best suited for our community and its mental health needs.”

The impact of this initiative ripples outwards, touching the lives of not only the students involved but also the broader community. “Hearing from youth, some of which may be close to the issue they are working on, is so important for us as we work to decrease the stigma of mental health and encourage us all to care for our mental health needs,” said Miksch. “Students created the application, released it, reviewed applications, selected award recipients and communicated with the awardees throughout the school year.”

Through a meticulous selection process, the Columbus JAG Nebraska program identified several deserving recipients for resources. Among them are organizations like the Northeast NE Suicide Prevention Coalition, Clarkson Public School – National Honor Society, GracePoint Institute for Relational Health, Big Pals Little Pals of Greater Columbus, TeamMates Mentoring of Columbus and the East Central District Health Department.

However, the significance of the partnership between JAG Nebraska and CAUW extends beyond the allocation of funds. By integrating real-world experiences into the academic sphere, the strategic partnership is enhancing educational outcomes and is nurturing a generation of proactive, socially conscious leaders.

At its core, this collaborative effort is about more than just writing grants or distributing resources. It’s about instilling a sense of agency and responsibility in students, empowering them to become catalysts for positive change in their communities.

JAG Nebraska Announces Two Scholarships

JAG Nebraska Announces Two Scholarships

Thanks to the generosity of two of our educational partners, Metropolitan Community College (MCC) and Central Community College (CCC), there are now two scholarships available for students who have participated in JAG Nebraska:

Metropolitan Community College (MCC) JAG Nebraska Scholarship

Scholarship Terms:

  • Eligible students are any JAG Nebraska participant who graduates from high school and begins their education at MCC in the fall following their high school graduation.
  • Each student will receive a $1,500 scholarship paid out over their first three (3) quarters at MCC ($500 per quarter).
  • The scholarship can be applied toward tuition and facility fees only.
  • Students need to register for at least 6 credit hours per quarter and remain in academic good standing to retain the scholarship.

Selection Criteria:

  • Students who participated in the JAG Nebraska program will automatically receive the scholarship if they apply.
  • Interested students must apply for the scholarship at mccneb.edu/scholarships and indicate their participation in the JAG Nebraska program.

About Metropolitan Community College

Metropolitan Community College is a comprehensive, full-service public community college supported by the taxpayers of Dodge, Douglas, Sarpy and Washington counties. Its purpose is to provide high quality educational programs and services, primarily in career preparation and general education, to people of all ages and educational backgrounds.

MCC offers more than 100 one- and two-year career programs in business administration, computer and office technologies, culinary arts, industrial and construction technologies, nursing and allied health, social sciences and services, and visual and electronic technologies, as well as academic transfer programs. General support courses, classes for business and industry and continuing education courses also are important parts of the College’s service to the community.

MCC’s 16 campuses, centers and locations are as diverse as our students. Take classes at one location, or several. Main campuses offer a full array of student support services. Learn more at mccneb.edu

Central Community College JAG Tuition Waiver Scholarship

Scholarship Terms:

  • Eligible students are any JAG Nebraska participant who graduates from high school and begins their education at CCC in the fall or spring semester following their high school graduation.
  • Each student will receive a $1,500 tuition waiver scholarship paid over their first three (3) semesters at CCC ($500 per semester).
    • Summer will be considered as one of the semesters if the student opts to enroll.
  • The scholarship can be applied toward tuition only.
  • Students need to register for at least 6 credit hours per semester and remain in academic good standing to retain the scholarship.

Selection Criteria:

  • Students must be seeking a degree or other award at CCC (associate, diploma, certificate).
  • Interested students must complete the CCC scholarship application at ccc.awardspring.com and indicate they participated in the JAG Nebraska program.
  • Students must be attending a CCC campus or center location.
    • If a student is attending online only, they may request an exception by submitting a request to the Area Wide Director of Financial Aid at rebeccadobry@cccneb.edu.

Scholarship Renewal Requirements:

The scholarship is renewable for up to three (3) semesters or to completion of program, whichever comes first.

Students must meet academic progress standards to continue receiving the scholarship. Standards of academic progress are:

  • Maintaining a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher
  • Completing at least 67% of all attempted credit hours

About Central Community College

Central Community College (CCC) is a multi-campus community college serving a 25-county area in central Nebraska – approximately 14,000 square miles with a population of more than 300,000.

CCC offers 37 career and technical education programs with a focus on degree, diploma and certificate programs requiring two years or less to complete. The college also offers an academic transfer program for students who want to complete the first two years of a bachelor’s degree before transferring to a four-year college or university.

The central administration office is in Grand Island, with three main campuses located in Columbus, Grand Island and Hastings and educational centers in Holdrege, Kearney, Lexington and Ord. CCC also uses a variety of distance learning techniques to provide educational services in some 90 communities in its service area. Learn more at ccneb.edu.

Governor Jim Pillen and UWM Announce Expansion of JAG Nebraska

Nebraska Governor Pillen and UWM Announce Expansion of JAG Nebraska Program

On April 10, Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen and Shawna Forsberg, president and CEO, United Way of the Midlands (UWM) announced a big expansion for the JAG Nebraska program.

They also welcomed Janelle Duray, president and CEO of the national JAG program, who was in Nebraska to highlight the success of the program in the state. “Nebraska is one of the highest performing JAG programs in the country,” Duray said. “It’s amazing to see the strong support JAG has here and I’m excited about its ongoing growth potential, which will benefit so many youth across the state.”

Since its beginning in 2019, JAG Nebraska has grown from three schools to currently serving 1,500 students in 34 middle and high schools across the state for the 2023-24 school year. This new expansion will add an additional 51 programs for the 2024-25 school year – increasing the number of programs in the state of Nebraska to 85, with a capacity to serve 4,000 students.

“We need more of our young people to pursue and find meaningful careers that interest them and connect with employers in Nebraska – and the JAG Nebraska program is helping us with both of these goals,” said Governor Pillen. “Our young people are the future of our state. We need to afford them every opportunity to succeed – and this program can help students see their potential and work to achieve success.”

Powered by UWM, JAG Nebraska is a for-credit, classroom elective for middle and high school that helps students develop their personal and professional skillsets to overcome the many challenges they face. It provides hands-on instruction, career development, leadership skills and more to help students graduate and find post-graduation success in college, the workplace and life.

“We are grateful to Governor Pillen, Labor Commissioner Albin, educators across the state and so many others for their commitment to Nebraska’s youth and for their support of JAG Nebraska,” said Forsberg. “This program is a true public-private partnership with support from the State of Nebraska, school districts, corporate and private philanthropy. And JAG Nebraska wouldn’t be nearly as successful as it is without this important collaboration.”

For more information about the JAG Nebraska program, go to JAGNebraska.org.

Photo Gallery – Janelle Duray Visit

Photo Gallery - Janelle Duray Visit

JAG Legislative Day – Governor Pillen Shares Guidance

JAG Legislative Day - Governor Pillen Shares Guidance

On March 28, nearly 100 middle school students from JAG Nebraska programs across the state visited the Nebraska Capitol for Legislative Day.  Legislative Day is a day of awareness that gives students the opportunity to meet with legislators and share the value of supporting programs like JAG. Students had the opportunity to observe a session in the legislative chamber, engage in discussions with their local senators and were recognized on the floor of the legislature by Senator Mike McDonnell. Additionally, the students had a very special visit with Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen, where he shared some of his guiding principles with students.

The Gift of First Impressions

The first thing Governor Pilled touched on was the importance of first impressions. “You never know when you’re going to make a first impression,” he said. “So how we carry ourselves. What kind of attitude we have has an incredible impact on the gift of a first impression.” He reminded the students they’re going to meet new people every single day and then continued, “You’re going to meet people today that you’ve never seen before.  What’s each person going to walk away and say when they think of you?”

Check the Mirror

“This is something really important that we should have a conversation about. Who knows if we’re doing our best? Only ourselves. I call it the mirror.” Governor Pillen went on to share experiences from his childhood and encouraged students to have a resilient mindset and optimism that they can overcome any challenge.

Dream Big

Governor Pillen also stated the importance of dreams. “Having dreams is really a big deal. And it’s okay if you don’t have one today, but here’s where a dream needs to be,” he said.  “It needs to be what you love doing and then you can have an incredible career. If you have great dreams, I call it the North Star. It really helps us make sure we do our best every day.”

Governor Pillen then shared his childhood dreams of becoming a veterinarian and a football player. Despite the opportunity to pursue both at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, a disappointing test result in his freshman biology class led to doubts raised by his advisor, Dr. Grace. Dr. Grace suggested he prioritize one dream over the other. However, Pillen refused to let skepticism deter him and made a firm commitment to his aspirations. He emphasized to students the importance of staying true to their dreams, regardless of external skepticism, highlighting that genuine dreams are personal and resilient.

“You can be anything you want to be. Not a shadow of a doubt. Believe in yourself.”


Additionally, Governor Pillen spoke to the students about communication. “Another thing I want you all to think about is the 7/38/55 rule. It’s really important and it goes back to the gift of first impressions.”

Governor Pillen proceeded to share that in communication, only 7% of the message is conveyed through words, making the language used relatively unimportant. The tone of voice accounts for 38%, while body language makes up the remaining 55% of the message. Thus, a significant 93% of communication is conveyed through emotion and body language. Encouraging everyone to reflect on this breakdown, Governor Pillen suggested students utilize the 7/38/55 rule to enhance connections with the community, friends and family. He advocated for expressing care and understanding by engaging in face-to-face conversations rather than relying solely on texting. He said this approach fosters stronger relationships and deeper comprehension of one another.

Importance of JAG Nebraska

Finally, Governor Pillen spoke to the students about the importance of JAG Nebraska. He expressed enthusiasm about the opportunities provided by the JAG program, highlighting its potential to shape the future of Nebraska and its communities. He encouraged students to maintain an open mind, explore various opportunities and commit to giving their best effort consistently. Governor Pillen concluded by saying, “We want great careers for you. My view is a job is work. We want to find great careers for you, so you never work a day in your life.”


About JAG Nebraska

JAG Nebraska is a program dedicated to empowering students with personal and professional development training and support to succeed in middle and high school, higher education, the workplace and beyond. With its personal attention, hands-on instruction and exposure to varied career fields and employers, JAG students master up to 87 core competencies – including communications skills, critical thinking, leadership development and key workplace practices – all of which have been identified by business and industry as essential to successful employment and positive professional outcomes.

To learn more about JAG Nebraska, visit JAGNebraska.org.

‘Hey, I grew that’: the Native American school that’s decolonizing foodways

'Hey, I grew that': the Native American school that's decolonizing foodways

Macy, NE (The Guardian) – In the Umoⁿhoⁿ Nation, teens learn about nutrition and build tribal sovereignty by farming for their school and community. Click here to read more from The Guardian.

JAG Program brings different learning environment to high schools

JAG Program brings different learning environment to high schools

Hastings, NE (KSNB) – A unique classroom setting is taking place shape in Nebraska. JAG Nebraska has been in place since 2019, and their goal is to help high school students overcome challenges to achieve personal and career success. Click here to watch the news story from KSNB Local4.

JAG Nebraska Program Coming to Kearney’s Hanny Arram Center for Success

JAG Nebraska Program Coming to Kearney’s
Hanny Arram Center for Success

Kearney, NE (Kearney Hub) – Beginning next fall, students at the Hanny Arram Center for Success will experience the JAG Nebraska program. Click here to read more from the Kearney Hub.

Students Gather for JAG leadership conference

Students Gather for JAG Leadership Conference

Omaha, NE (Omaha World Herald) – More than 100 JAG Nebraska students, representing 14 school districts across the state, recently attended the annual Leadership Development Conference at LinkedIn in Omaha. Click here to read more from the Omaha World Herald.

School Board Considers Joining JAG Program

School Board Considers Joining JAG Program

Tekamah, NE (Fremont Tribune) – Already hosting one of the most comprehensive career education programs for a school its size, Tekamah-Herman may be ready to go a step further. A proposal is being considered to add a program that would teach students job skills that aren’t covered through technical training. Read more from the Fremont Tribune.