The Policy Leadership Academy is accepting applications for Class 5  

Policy Leadership Academy

The Early Childhood Policy Leadership Academy (PLA) is excited to announce that applications are open for Class 5! We’re looking for individuals with a passion for early childhood and pre/perinatal issues who want to be effective change agents in their communities. 

What is the Policy Leadership Academy? 
The Policy Leadership Academy is an initiative of First Five Nebraska that brings together child care providers, economic leaders, health care workers and community partners to receive intensive training in movement building, effective advocacy strategies and community leadership. Through interactive trainings, facilitated conversations and intentional community building, the PLA equips participants with the skills and knowledge to become highly effective advocates and leaders at both the local and state levels.   

In my experience, advocacy training programs tend to focus specifically on either building local capacity or legislative activity. PLA is unique in the way it combines both grassroots movement-building and legislative policy advocacy to create the most impact.   

Running October through March (with no meeting in December and a virtual meeting in January 2024), the curriculum builds upon effective change at the grassroots level through efforts to influence legislative policy. 

Throughout the program and continuing afterward, PLA participants and I work closely together as they develop their own movement-building and advocacy efforts that address challenges in their local communities in the state. At the end of their program, students will be equipped (and expected) to devise an advocacy strategy to be implemented over the course of the following year.  

Policy Leadership Academy alumni remain a powerful network of statewide movement builders. Applicants accepted into the program are expected to be active participants in ongoing policy and grassroots efforts alongside other alumni and peers. We’re committed to the long game!  

Who is eligible to apply? 
Anyone who is committed to developing thriving children, families and communities and has both the determination and sincere desire to make a positive difference in their community may apply to the program. Applicants are expected to be collaborative, coachable and willing to demonstrate how their ever-developing advocacy and leadership skills can make a meaningful impact in their community. 

Applicants living in or representing low-opportunity or largely under-represented populations are encouraged to apply.  

What are the benefits of participating? 
Joining the Policy Leadership Academy offers many exciting opportunities and benefits. You will:  

  • Become part of the early childhood and pre/perinatal policy community and gain insight and expertise from leaders in the field 
  • Work with other participants and policy experts to identify and advance policy initiatives 
  • Engage with community members and organizations to understand their needs and experiences and help them realize their policy goals 
  • Develop your communication and leadership skills 
  • Meet and network with other emerging leaders in policy and grassroots advocacy 
  • Gain increased visibility, recognition and experience that can be included in your portfolio and resume 
  • Receive ongoing technical and skills support from grassroots movement-building experts and policy influencers for your local and statewide efforts 
  • Have access to ongoing training and skill development 
  • Make a difference in your community and help create real, long-lasting change 

How do I apply?
The Policy Leadership Academy is accepting applications online. To apply, you must:  

  • Have a strong interest in policy and local community-building work 
  • Exhibit diplomacy, a desire to learn and dedication to the process 
  • Be committed to inclusivity and equity in your approach 
  • Commit to the duration of the program and attend all five meetings (four in person, one virtual)

PLA applications are open through June 30, 2023. Accepted candidates will be notified by August 1. Class size will be limited to 25 participants. Participation costs will be covered, including transportation, lodging, meals and any necessary stipends to pay teacher substitutes, if applicable.  

For more information
If you’d like more information before applying to the Policy Leadership Academy, visit the PLA page on the First Five Nebraska website or reach out to me at 

In addition to answering any questions, I’m happy to tell you more about the goals of the Policy Leadership Academy, what to expect during the program and give some insight into past PLA programs and how we are growing and developing.  

I hope you’ll consider applying to be part of the next class of creative and effective policy advocates in Nebraska! 

Learn more and apply


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