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Fielding Dreams News: Celebrating the Grand Opening of the JoAnn & Derrel Martin Courts at the U-Stop Tennis Complex

A Heart for Philanthropy: Meet Logan

Soaring to New Heights: A Community Success Story

Opening the Door to New Worlds: A New Playground

The LPS Gary Reber Memorial Student Assistance Fund

Having watched Judy create opportunities for children to learn and enjoy learning, her daughter Sarah felt pulled to carry this same energy and legacy. Sarah established Judy’s scholarship to help inspire future educators to have a similar impact on children, their families, and their communities.

Spark Scholarships Provide 250 Weeks of Camp to 42 Campers

Lincoln Public Schools announced on Thursday that a community partnership between the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools and Union Bank & Trust (UBT) will aid in constructing Lincoln’s newest stadium set to open in the fall of 2022.

The 2020-2021 school year was one will not soon be forgotten. Read all the stats and stories that made the year so unique.

The Foundation celebrates the accomplishments of Dawes in a surprise ceremony.

The March 27 edition of the Lincoln Journal Star included the Lincoln Public Schools Foundation's 2020-21 annual report. This report contained a striking statistic -- 46.8% of all LPS students live in poverty.

Spark Summer Learning announces closure for the 2022 summer season.

Garner Industries joins the ranks of Ameritas, Assurity, Capital One, and others with a $10,000 contribution to the Foundation.

A note from Dr. Steve Joel, Superintendent of LPS looking back on the 20/21 school year, what lies ahead and how Lincolnites can help.

We surveyed a lot of our new teachers partway through the year, and they were so thankful for all the support they were receiving from colleagues. They were overwhelmed by the support that people gave them, but they were also exhausted. This was absolutely most educators' hardest year in teaching.

In this series, we will talk to educational professionals in Lincoln to learn how to serve our students to the fullest. Starting us off is Patsy Koch Johns, former LHS teacher, Nebraska teacher of the year awardee and member of the state board of education!

Spark launches new enrollment platform and changes to upfront costs.

On February 14, 2021 the Foundation released our annual report covering the 2019-2020 fiscal year. In it we share how the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools has supported students, educators and schools, as well as financial reports.

We are obsessed with helping kiddos of all elementary ages have an enriching summer camp experience. We could go on and on about the important benefits of camps, but here is our list of the top four benefits for attending summer learning camps. 

We have lots of reasons why we think you should sign your kid up now for our summer camps, but here are our top three reasons why you should think about signing your child up early.

For working parents, we understand summer can be a stressful time. We want your kids to be safe, have fun, and learn a thing or two, but everyone has a flexible work schedule. Spark Summer Camps are designed to be flexible for working parents and curious kids. 

Welcome to Spark! We are a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) focused summer camp located in Lincoln, Nebraska. Spark is a place where kids experience hands-on learning and play like never before. These experiences allow children to dive into new discoveries which set them up to solve real-world problems as they grow.

Join us to learn more about what diversity looks like at Lincoln Public Schools and how Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020 spurred additional efforts to address equity in our schools.

The Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools has launched an online gallery to honor and thank local teachers. The initiative began earlier this month when members of an LPS Community Advisory Committee learned teachers in the school system were reporting feelings of burn-out.

Amazon Prime Days, October 13th and 14th, begin the kick off to the holiday season. Take advantage of all the deals while supporting teachers and kids at LPS.

Now open on 61st and O Street, Rocket Carwash will donate a portion of every wash on the day of its official grand opening on Saturday, October 3, 2020.

The Lincoln Public Schools Staff Fund Drive kicks off September 22 and runs through October 2. Learn how a donation to the Foundation gives back to you and your school.

The Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools is now accepting requests for emergency assistance from LPS students and their families affected by COVID-19.

Families of LPS students in need may request funds to help with: childcare, medical bills, rent or housing costs, utilities, gas/groceries and other emergencies as necessary.

Ameritas provides educational materials in partnership with Barnes & Noble and the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools.

The school year seems to speed up as it winds down. With the harsh winter behind us, the spring push to renew our energy and ideas is even more pressing than usual. For the Foundation, this means increasing our efforts to expose students to career and life-changing experiences.

You, our friends and donors, have made so many experiences possible over the last few months.

Macek was recognized for building positive working relationships, showing compassion and being an exceptional leader. She was nominated by her colleague, Rachael Kluck-Spann.
“Whether it is an academic or behavioral concern, Deanna has excellent skills to help find working solutions in a collaborative, productive way,” Kluck-Spann wrote in her nomination. “Macek is an enormous asset to our administrative team, the Irving community and to Lincoln Public Schools.”

Lefler Middle School teacher Pam Steckelberg was awarded the Florence J. Clark Excellence in Middle School Teaching award by the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools on February 27, 2019 at a special assembly with students, colleagues and her family. Steckelberg, in her 27th year of teaching, was recognized for building positive and real relationships with her students while creating a classroom culture with high expectations that also serves as a safe place for students to learn and make mistakes.

Dreyer, a special education teacher in his 18th year at Beattie Elementary School, was recognized for finding creative ways to incorporate financial literacy into the classroom. His farm simulation curriculum includes teaching students to buy and sell livestock and practice budgeting to feed animals, pay bills and manage unexpected expenses. The simulation takes place over the course of a school year so students can watch their money and herd grow over time.

Lincoln Southeast High School counselor Kelsey Lorimer was awarded the Nancy Muehlhausen Counseling Award by the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools on February 12, 2019 surrounded by her family and colleagues.
Lorimer, in her fourth year at LSE, was recognized for her commitment to students and dedication as a counselor.

If you think GoFundMe changed the fundraising game forever when they launched their online crowdfunding platform in 2010, think again. Lincoln Public Schools has been using their remarkably similar Fund a Need program since 2003, providing classrooms with everything from field trips, to mariachi ensembles, to pet bearded dragons.

Homelessness is most visible when people are on the street, out in the open. People who have no shelter at all are extremely vulnerable, but homelessness has other faces too. It can have a particularly different impact for students working to get their education.

The Excellence Project is an inclusive and collaborative program exploring personal strengths through the arts.

If you are considering a charitable gift this year, you may consider contributions of cash, appreciated stock, or other assets directly to the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools. You may also consider more sophisticated gifting tools, such as charitable gift annuities or charitable lead trusts. If in addition or instead you prefer a deferred gift to the Foundation, you may include your charitable intent in your estate plan documents, such as a bequest in your Will of a certain dollar amount or percentage of your estate, and / or naming the Foundation as a beneficiary on your retirement accounts, life insurance, or other accounts or assets.

If you ever think one person can’t make a difference, I have one name for you. Ed Copple.

Ed did everything he could to support others’ ability to share his passion for fitness in Lincoln. A smart business person and a hard worker, Ed did well for himself and his family but was generous in giving back to his community. In fact, Ed and Mary’s donation to the LPS Wellness fund was a major part of the creation of my role within LPS in helping manage those funds responsibly and create related programming to support the health of our LPS students.

Edupoint® Educational Systems, creator of the industry-leading Synergy® Education Platform for K-12 student information and learning management, is pleased to announce that its 2018 Partner for Life Award has been awarded to Lincoln Public Schools in Lincoln, Nebraska.

2Gen (a family literacy program) is a nationally recognized and innovative educational approach with a powerful premise. It brings students and families together to learn— challenging parents, guardians and their children to identify academic and life goals that will improve the quality of their lives. Wells Fargo is an important supporter of the 2Gen program, not only financially, but also by encouraging their employees to volunteer.

Let’s hear it for Guac and Roll! That was a familiar refrain last year at Lincoln Public School’s Career Academy. Guac and Roll, a team from the culinary path of The Career Academy, placed in the top 25 of the National ProStart Invitational, a national culinary competition. It is the highest a team from Nebraska has ever placed at this annual competition which took place in April in Providence, Rhode Island. The Career Academy (TCA) team was comprised of Francisco Chavira Gonzalez and Sagan Smith, from Lincoln High, Tessa Mariscal, from Northeast, and Corbin Reinhardt, from Southwest.

Joe D. Meehan was born in Lincoln, NE and, with several moves, attended Huntington Elementary, Jackson High School and Lincoln Northeast High School. Meehan was drafted into the Army in 1943, where he began to collect memorabilia of World War II. Besides being an active collector and curator of a World War II museum, Joe was an active member of the Sesotris Shriners. He gave generously to many organizations and set up a scholarship to help Northeast High School students attend college, the Joe Meehan Class of 1943 Scholarship.

We are very fortunate in LPS to have a Foundation that shares in our mission and intent. With more than 42,000 students enrolled that represent close to 50% eligible for free and reduced lunches (poverty factors), our ability to meet the needs of all of our students is beyond our resource capacity. Whether the need is for a family in crisis or a teacher that is seeking a teaching tool or activity (Fund a Need), the Foundation seeks ways to support. Whenever I am presented with a request for help and assistance my first call is to our Foundation.

“The most creative act you will ever undertake is the act of creating yourself.” ~Deepak Chopra

As a child you loved it—making something out of anything.

Whatever the medium, you were all over it and had a blast. Being creative came naturally to you.

David Juiliano’s path to the classroom wasn’t straight, not a college-to-diploma-to-teacher sort of trajectory.

He earned an environmental economics degree from a small liberal arts college in California, then held a number of jobs not necessarily related to environmental economics, including one in Omaha, where he met his future wife.

Did you know that the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools was ranked as the seventh best K-12 educational foundation in the nation this year (2018)? Moving up from number 13 last year, the Foundation reached the Top 10 for the first time in the four-year history of the report. Nearly 200 school foundations were reviewed. Caruthers’ “Stepping Up” report looks at eight key performance categories to determine the ranking: annual revenues, revenues per student, total assets, assets per student, investment income, total program expenses, expenses per student, and human capital (volunteers).

In 2018, The Career Academy is opening more pathways for students who have expressed interest in careers not yet supported at TCA. The two that start next fall are Criminal Justice (at The Career Academy) and Automotive Tech (at Lincoln High & Northeast). There is considerable interest for both pathways with 64 signing up for Criminal Justice and 19 for Automotive Tech so far. As with all Career Academy pathways, students will be able to earn dual credit with discounted tuition through Southeast Community College and can qualify for certification.

The first time Dawes Middle School Principal Angie Plugge heard about a possibility for the national engineering program “Lead The Way” to find a home at Dawes Middle School, she knew she would fight to make it happen. “Programs like these change the lives of students,” said Plugge. “Students are not only hearing, ‘Yes you can do this,’ they are gaining the experience to be confident in their abilities, knowledge, and skills. They have opportunities to see how to use these skills in the real world.”

Donors want to make a difference. When generosity positively affects people, it warms the heart.

“It’s one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve been a part of in my nearly 30 years of teaching. The donors’ generous contributions have let loose a happy, creative storm at East High!”

What led Jane Holt, East High School librarian, to say that was a phone call I received from a dear donor who read about Jane’s project in the newspaper. It was a cool project Jane was doing to convert an old-timey candy machine into a dispensary for art, supplies, and tchotchkes. “She should create a Fund-a-Need,” the donor suggested.

Message received!

Student dress code is the first step to success for students turning around their school behavior. Dress code creates an environment where students are part of a group that works together to succeed, giving them a more even playing field. Students earn status as they make good choices, support their peers, and show sensitivity and respect. They begin to stand out based on their positive behavior, not on their attire.

It takes a certain set of talents and skills to become a builder of ideas, businesses and communities. Gallup’s new BP 10 (Builder’s Profile) assessment helps reveal just that. If you take “Gallup’s StrengthsFinder for Entrepreneurs,” you will quickly understand the core foundation in Lincoln’s Future Builders Challenge.

“A rich man’s soup – and all from a few stones. It seems like magic!”

A student brings much more to their classroom than their books and homework. They bring the experiences of their complex and busy lives. Some spend hours outside of school practicing their talent as an athlete, musician, artist or academic. Some worry where their next meal will come from, or if their family will be safe today. Others are exploring their purpose and passion and are looking for ideas that will inspire. Still others helping their parents navigate a new country. The opportunities to profoundly help a child are endless. Ed Foundations can provide that magic in the margins that helps to expand on the lessons learned during the school day and make learning come to life.

A volunteer citizen organization in Lincoln seeks to support the public, private and parochial schools in Lincoln as they work to infuse innovation in education.

During March and early April, the group is sponsoring viewings of the video “Most Likely to Succeed,” a documentary about a future-oriented school; and on April 23, group members have arranged a public conversation that includes leaders of education in Nebraska, Google, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Gallup Organization.

“I can’t do this,” Sarah breathed in frustration. There she sat, in my office, staring desperately at her homework assignment. While some students may have chosen to fake their efforts, simply wanting to be free of an educator’s presence, Sarah was completely frozen. She had been sitting there for an hour, occasionally tapping a few keyboard keys or perusing various research sources. She seemed to be working slowly, but I assumed she may just have needed more time than the rest. As she proclaimed her frustration, I went to her and inquired about her progress. She revealed her worksheet with one answered question and declared with confidence that she was simply incapable of completing the assignment.

For over forty years, a UNL – LPS partnership has brought in over 100 LPS fifth graders over multiple Saturdays to ponder the fundamental questions of the universe. Lead by UNL professors and graduate students, children spend two hours exploring topics that range from toys, electricity, sound, and light. Because the program has occurred over forty years, many former students are now sending their children back to the same program they experienced as a child.

With such institutionalized success, the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools (FLPS) saw a need and stepped in to secure a fund to guarantee this program, beyond just getting by year by year on application fees.

After another round of holidays, it's safe to assume, a lot of children have been diving into media more than usual. They may have received new electronic toys and gadgets or downloaded new apps and games. Managing all that bleeping and buzzing activity causes anxiety in many parents. Here's a roundup of some of the latest research, combined with some of our previous reporting, to help guide your decision-making around family screen use.

Silicon Prairie, anyone? These unexpected regions are emerging as America's brightest — not to mention affordable and inclusive — tech hubs.

As play-write, Meredith Willson, said — “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.”

STEM is a key component in education today, and the Foundation for LPS loves to support Next-level Learning (one of our four pillars) both inside and outside the classroom.

Rob McEntarffer, an LPS Assessment Evaluation Specialist and former teacher at Southeast High School, and James Blake, K-12 Science Curriculum Specialist, administer this award – with help from the Francis Family.

According to Rob, the Foundation for LPS “helps to make the world a better place” in the work we do with students and teachers. The award was established in honor of a high school debate partner and friend of his. Over the years, this award has helped many students fund creative projects involving science knowledge, ecology, creativity, and writing.

A Lincoln High School graduate who survived genocide in Cambodia before arriving in Nebraska has published a memoir about her experience - a harrowing tale that spans from an early childhood spent starving and separated from her family, to a career as an engineer in the aerospace and biotech industries.

Sir Ken Robinson said, “Teaching is more like gardening than engineering.”

As a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) enthusiast this quote simultaneously resonates with me and makes me uneasy. The uneasiness comes from the possible implication that Sir Robinson has ill will for engineering or engineers. Rather, I think he is pointing toward and prioritizing the human qualities that saturates all transformational engineering design. The main point that I really enjoy is that Sir Robinson’s gardening comparison is redirecting us towards a view of education that is non-linear. Plants adhere to cyclical seasonal patterns, but even within that predictable cycle we see variation from early thaws, late blooms, and a myriad of other factors. Not least among these is the intervention and tending that gardening describes. This is much more descriptive of the nature of education necessary for our day and age.

You don’t typically see an embroidery machine woven into the curriculum of a computer programming class — but that’s exactly what happened last week at Southeast High School.

Students in Alan Holdorf’s fourth-period computer programming class used an online program called TurtleStitch. The program allowed them to write computer code for embroidery designs, which were then transferred to a flash drive and plugged into an embroidery machine that stitched the final product on its own.

Ever been labelled as the ‘creative’ person in the room, but found yourself falling dismally short of anything that feels like an original idea?


When you work as a designer (or any other creative) people assume you’re the go–to for all exciting new ideas and inputs. Unfortunately, that’s a stigma that’s not going to change any time soon.

The Cooper Foundation approved fourth-quarter grants totaling $149,651, including a matching grant of $10,000 to the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools in support of student scholarships for the Spark Summer Learning Program.

One dreary day, a professor was sitting at his desk when a fateful event occurred. As he marked examination papers, he noticed that a student had left a page blank. For some inexplicable reason, he jotted down a sentence: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

You know that thing where you spin a globe and put your finger down to stop it, and where ever your finger lands, that’s where you’re going to move? Yeah, I’ve never done that. Actually, I’m not sure anyone has ever done that outside of the movies. Still, cool idea. And it reminds me of something I used to do with Google Earth.

“Low-income communities bear the brunt of society’s toughest challenges. But these communities still need to educate their stars, and that’s were we come in. And our alumni give back…”

Changing the way we teach and learn is difficult.

But, last week I realized how education is being radically disrupted by new technologies.

Not all of my colleagues agree. And I have to admit that if you are active as a teacher or interested in education, you might think that education hasn’t changed much over the last few decades.

Human services agencies that serve families in need in Lincoln and Lancaster County, Nebraska have a wealth of program information in catalogs and on websites. But what happens in a crisis situation when someone may not have internet access? The answer may be an app.

Cybersecurity has become one of the most critical issues throughout the world. Building interest and skills among young people in cybersecurity as well as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is the focus of the Air Force CyberPatriot competition.

The Numbers

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  • Students Empowered


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  • Funds Received This Year


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