Nebraska Early Childhood Policy Leadership Academy

The inaugural Nebraska Early Childhood Policy Leadership Academy course has concluded. Please check back for opportunities to apply for the next class of the Academy, which begins in October, or subscribe to First Five Nebraska's email updates.

Program Duration: October 2019 to April 2020

Additional Information: Tammy Ward | Director |

Early care and learning issues matter to the near- and long-term prosperity and vitality of our state and its communities. This is why Nebraska's decision makers need the perspectives of citizen-leaders to influence public policies that promote the healthy development of our youngest children. 

What is the Nebraska Early Childhood Policy Leadership Academy?

The Nebraska Early Childhood Policy Leadership Academy is a non-partisan project designed to help citizen-leaders grow in knowledge and skills to effectively engage lawmakers and major influencers on early care and learning issues. Participants will:

  • Educate themselves on the early childhood infrastructure in their communities and how it affects the key social and economic factors important to local development and quality of life
  • Learn how to build community interest and ownership in early childhood issues
  • Work with public policy experts to develop a robust understanding of how state and local government operates
  • Learn techniques to communicate effectively with the decision makers who are best positioned to directly shape public policies affecting young children 

What is involved in participating?

The inaugural year of the Policy Academy will be a five-month commitment from January to May, 2019. Participants will meet monthly, with in-person meetings alternating with “virtual” meetings online.

  • In-Person Meetings (January, March, May) will be conducted in locations in eastern, central and western Nebraska from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Participants will be reimbursed for mileage, lodging, meal expenses associated with attending the meetings.
  • Virtual Meetings (February & April) will be online discussions lasting 1-2 hours each. Attendance requires a computer and Internet connection.

Future classes of the Policy Leadership Academy (2020 and beyond) may involve a longer curriculum and time commitment.

Who should apply?

The inaugural class of the Policy Leadership Academy will be primarily recruited from communities currently participating in Nebraska Children’s Communities for Kids initiative. This includes Columbus, Gothenburg, Grand Island, Lexington, Lincoln, Norfolk, Omaha, Pender, Red Cloud, Schuyler and York, as well as the greater Nebraska Panhandle area.

Participants from other communities may be considered based on available space in the inaugural class of the program and at the discretion of the Academy’s director.

Applicants for the Policy Leadership Academy should expect to attend all online and in-person meetings and demonstrate an active interest in different aspects of community development, early childhood policy and government affairs.


2019 Class Schedule*

January 16: Grand Island | 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT | Orientation: Understanding your community's early childhood needs

February 20: Virtual Meeting | 10 a.m. to noon CT, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. MT | Nebraska's Unicameral: How the Legislature operates and makes funding decisions

March 20: Lincoln | 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT | Visit to the Legislature: Techniques for engaging with legislators, followed by visits with district senators

April 17: Virtual Meeting | 10 a.m. to noon CT, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. MT | Building Relationships with Legislators:  Deepening the engagement of legislators and staff with early childhood issues

May 15: Gothenburg | 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT | Building Community Engagement and Awareness: Techniques for communicating effectively with key audiences and influencers at the local level

 *Session topics subject to change