Omaha – On Thursday, April 17, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) will celebrate the biggest addition yet to its world-leading community engagement efforts with the dedication of UNO’s Community Engagement Center (CEC).
As the first and only university to have a facility dedicated to community engagement across the globe, UNO looks to continue its leadership in the areas of service learning partnerships, volunteer programs and graduate-level research on community engagement.
“Community Engagement is a hallmark of UNO and has been for more than 105 years dating back to when the university had service written into the school’s charter,” UNO Chancellor John Christensen says. “The Community Engagement Center is an example of how we’ve stayed true to that mission of being Omaha’s university.”
Beginning at 4:30 p.m. on April 17, invited members of the Omaha community will join representatives from UNO, the University of Nebraska system and the University of Nebraska Foundation in a celebration of the CEC’s opening.
The dedication event will feature remarks from University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken, UNO Chancellor John Christensen, nationally-recognized community engagement scholar Barbara Holland, Barbara Weitz and Sara Woods, director of the CEC and Assistant to the Senior Vice Chancellor for Community Engagement.
“Having this tremendous resource on the UNO campus will allow us to expand our outreach efforts exponentially throughout the Omaha area while substantially increasing the accessibility of our campus and its programs, personnel, and events to the community,” explains Sara Woods, director of the CEC and Assistant to the Senior Vice Chancellor for Community Engagement.
Those interested in watching the ceremony can visit this link for a live video stream on the day of the dedication: https://www.unomaha.edu/news/2014/04/homepage/community-engagement-center.php
At 60,000 square feet and at a cost of $24 million, the CEC provides office space and fosters opportunities for collaborative partnerships between nonprofit, government, student and university organizations and initiatives. The CEC is also the permanent home of UNO's signature outreach programs, including the Service Learning Academy and the Student Volunteer and Leadership Collaborative.
The lead donor for the CEC is the Weitz Family Foundation and principal benefactors are the Ruth and Bill Scott family and Union Pacific.
“The dream for this building is to create the space for the community to become all it can be,” said Barbara Weitz. “For people to come together to work for the greater good of all of Omaha’s citizens. If the dream of this building can come true so can the dream of a community that cares for its citizens.”
In 2015, the CEC will be the focus of and home to the national conference for the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU). Chancellor Christensen served a term as president of CUMU from 2009 – 2012 and currently holds the title of President Emeritus.
For questions about the dedication of the UNO Community Engagement Center, please contact Charley Reed, UNO media relations coordinator, at email@example.com or by phone at 402.554.2129.
Community Engagement Center Partners
UNO’s Community Engagement Center will house both external community organizations and internal UNO organizations with the goal to increase collaboration between university faculty, students and area non-profits.
The selection process consisted of an initial written application, followed by interviews with committee composed of community and university representatives. The committee made formal recommendations to senior leadership at UNO, who made the final decision for the first round of residents
The organizations chosen for space in the Center are:
A Time to Heal
A nonprofit organization dedicated to holistic wellness and recovery for cancer survivors and their caregivers.
A human relations organization confronting prejudice, bigotry and discrimination through education programs which raise awareness, foster leadership and encourage advocacy for a just and inclusive society.
A UNO student-run public relations firm devoted to serving clients by offering innovative and creative solutions to help them achieve their public relations goals.
Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless (MACCH)
A nonprofit organization committed to end homelessness in the Douglas and Sarpy Counties in Nebraska and Pottawattamie County in Iowa.
Nebraska Shakespeare Festival
A nonprofit organization utilizing Shakespeare’s life-affirming works to broadening the cultural and educational environments of the community.
Nebraska Watershed Network
A UNO organization acting as a focal point for research, teaching and community outreach regarding surface water quality in eastern Nebraska and throughout the state and region. It will collaborate with the Daugherty Water for Food Institute and the UNMC College of Public Health, as well as the Omaha Public Schools, the local Natural Resource Districts, and other community organizations.
Office of Latino/Latin American Studies (OLLAS)
A UNO organization aimed to advance the understanding of Chicano/Latino/Latin American peoples and the critical issues affecting these populations.
Omaha by Design
A nonprofit urban design and environmental nonprofit devoted to improving the way Omaha looks, functions and feels.
The Omaha Community Foundation (OCF)
One of the country’s largest community foundations, OCF connects people who care about the community with the people and nonprofits who are doing the most good here. In addition to supporting Omaha’s philanthropic community, OCF works to determine the Omaha community’s greatest needs; to build up its nonprofits; and to find new ways for people to come together to give.
Queer Nebraska Youth Networks
A peer-led group of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) Nebraskan youth age 15-24, committed to combating isolation by building healthy, supportive, and intentional communities that promote intracommunity friendships and cultivate hope.
Sigma Phi Epsilon
UNO’s second largest fraternity aiming to work towards the ideal of the “Balanced Man” by challenging their members to get involved in other organizations, leadership roles and in the community.
Support and Training for the Evaluation of Programs (STEPs)
A UNO organization aimed to provide participatory, utilization-focused program evaluation to programs organizations serving children, youth, and families in poverty.
A group of UNO organizations promoting and integrating sustainability by engaging in dialogue, identifying sustainability opportunities and developing recommended action plans.
Volunteer Program Assessment – University of Nebraska at Omaha
A UNO organization devoted to providing quantitative and qualitative data and feedback to non-profit organizations from the perspective of their volunteers with the goal of improving volunteer and organizational outcomes.
Wellness Council of the Midlands (WELCOM)
A nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting organizations of all sizes and industry to develop a workplace culture that supports their employees’ efforts in maintaining a healthy lifestyle both at work and at home.
SPHRS (Spirituality, Public Health and Religious Studies)
This project of the UNO Department of Religious Studies supports and helps to coordinate a variety of partnerships, initiatives and activities at UNO, UNMC and in local and global communities. SPHRS operates as an umbrella organization focused on spirituality, wellness, and/or religious/cultural diversity that connects faculty, students, administrators and community members; provides resources and expertise to support these people and their projects; increases opportunities for learning; and creates and supports internships and placements for students at the local, regional, national and international levels.
The Social Media Lab for Research and Engagement
This UNO-based organization, a collaboration of the College of Communication, Fine Arts, and Media (CFAM) - School of Communication, the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IS&T) and others across campus will provide consultation services to scholars, students and community partners on projects across disciplines when they involve forms of socialized computer-mediated communication; events and educational courses and workshops to serve both UNO faculty/staff/students and extended community partners; and cutting edge research related to the use of social media and spans across issues and disciplines.
Nebraskans for Civic Reform (NCR)
A non-profit, non-partisan organization, NCR is composed of dedicated and politically diverse young Nebraskan professionals who are committed to making civic institutions more inclusive among youth and historically disadvantaged, and disengaged, populations. NCR achieves this by working to protect voting rights; research of policies that make elections more accessible; providing community engagement and job readiness services for returning veterans; and strengthening K12 civic education and engagement in the community.
The Omaha Public Library
Established in 1872 and with 12 branches in the Omaha area, OPL will house its Community Engagement team in the CEC. Rather than focusing their time in the libraries, this team now spends much of it time around the metro, seeking out organizations who can benefit from the library’s services, resources and staff in improving their work. These efforts extend far beyond the more visible public library role as a more passive provider of resources. By housing the team in the CEC, OPL will develop new partnerships and enhance existing relationships.
This organization assures that the visual and performing arts experiences are open to people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. Access to the arts is achieved when all people have equal opportunity to attend, participate and learn through arts experiences. WhyArts? contracts with local professional artists who lead experiential workshops within organizations serving underserved populations with special emphasis on serving those with physical and mental disabilities, the older adult population and at-risk populations.
About UNO’s Community Engagement Efforts
UNO was named a Community Engagement University by the Carnegie Foundation in 2008, but has been dedicated to service and service learning for much of its century-long history.
Most recently, UNO was named as a member to the Clinton Global Initiative University network of schools – one of only 50 across the world – which enlists students to help address the world’s most pressing social issues.
UNO is also home to its own Service Learning Academy, which oversees UNO’s widely-successful P-16 Initiative efforts, which brings together K-12 students with UNO students and members of the community to combine service work with course objectives.
UNO regularly holds service days across the school year, which have resulted in more than $1 million worth of volunteer hours given back to the Omaha-metro area and across the state.
UNO is also home to the SummerWorks program, which gives at-risk high school students summer jobs; the Goodrich Program, which provides scholarships to financially needy and first-time college students; and the Military and Veteran Services Office, which helps active duty military members and veterans transition from life on the front lines to life in the classroom.
UNO is also the only university in Nebraska to make the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll every year since the poll began in 2006.
These are just several examples of UNO’s community engagement efforts. For more information, please contact Charley Reed, UNO media relations coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 402.554.2129.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.
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About the University of Nebraska Foundation
The University of Nebraska Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization raising private gifts to support the University of Nebraska for more than 77 years. In 2013, donors to the foundation provided the university with $236.7 million for scholarships, medical and other research, academic programs, faculty support and facilities. The foundation's comprehensive fundraising campaign, the Campaign for Nebraska, has raised more than $1.5 billion for the university and concludes Dec. 31, 2014. For more information, visit campaignfornebraska.org.