Step Up Omaha

The Empowerment Network’s Step-Up Omaha summer program just completed its 9th year. 2016 will prove to be the largest and most successful year with the creation of 500+ career exploration and job experience opportunities by the end of the year.

Summer employment has been proven to be a vital component to engaging youth and putting them on the right path for long-term career success. Local and national research points to the importance of linking youth and young adults with job experiences to establish a positive relationship between education, work and generating income.

Launched by the Empowerment Network and North Omaha community in 2008, Step-Up Omaha has expanded city-wide and worked with partners to connect more than 4,000 youth and young adults, ages 14-21, with career exploration, job training, and internships. Hundreds of Step-Up Omaha alumni have graduated from high school, entered and completed college and gained part-time and full-time work.

With the valuable financial support of the City of Omaha, United Way, businesses, foundations and community residents, Step-Up Omaha has expanded in measurable ways this year.

Participants ages 14-15 in the Step-Up Omaha Explore program participated in amazing career immersion experiences including:

Financial Management & Banking Careers – Urban Financial Services Coalition
Health Careers – University of Nebraska Medical Center
Arts, Culture, History and Entertainment – Love’s Jazz and Arts Center & El Museo Latino
IT/STEM Careers – Interface Web School & Metropolitan Community College PROTO Lab
Government – Mayor’s Office, City Council, County Commissioners, County Treasurer, Planning Department
Law Enforcement, Fire Safety and Criminal Justice – Omaha Police Department, Douglas County Jail and Douglas County Attorney’s Office, City Attorney’s Office, Omaha Fire Department
Sports, Events, and Hospitality – TD Ameritrade, CenturyLink Center and MECA
Agriculture and Food Production
Entrepreneurship – Omaha Small Business Network and Nebraska Enterprise Fund
Business and Corporate Executive Leadership – WoodmenLife
Construction, Culinary, Automotive, TV/Digital Media – OPS Career Center
College Visits – UNO and Metropolitan Community College

Participants ages 16-18 in the Step-Up Omaha Jobs, Careers, and Intern program gained valuable work experience at over 80 work sites, including American National Bank, First Data, UNMC, Omaha Public Schools, Omaha Police Department, Jimmy Johns and others. Interns worked in jobs and internship positions ranging from banking, information technology, and healthcare to landscaping, construction and child development.

Participants ages 19-21 in the Step-Up Omaha Connect program worked full time and part time in opportunities with the potential of long-term employment. Some participants made as much as $11 per hour for the summer and earned opportunities to stay on with their employer as they proved themselves to be valuable assets.

The mission of the STEP-UP OMAHA! Program is to help meet the short-term and long-term employment demand and workforce needs in Omaha and the region. With the help of this grant, the Empowerment Network is able to add 100 additional participants to this highly valuable program. Participants are selected through a competitive application process.

Businesses and organizations interested in getting involved or becoming a sponsor, work-site or learning more about the program can go to

Step-Up Omaha! is an initiative of the Empowerment Network in collaboration with the City of Omaha. Community partners include: Banister’s Leadership Academy, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands, Eastern Nebraska Community Action Partnership, Heartland Workforce Solutions, Hope Center for Kids, Girls Inc., Latino Center of the Midlands, Metropolitan Community College, Omaha Economic Development Corporation, Omaha Housing Authority, Omaha Public Schools District, Salvation Army KROC Center, South Omaha Business Alliance, and the Urban League of Nebraska.

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