Step Up Omaha!

STEP-UP Omaha!
Youth Employment Program

The Step-Up Omaha Youth Employment Program is now a nationally recognized model partnering with the Obama Foundation/MBK Alliance and local major funders, City of Omaha, Charles E. Lakin Foundation, United Way, employers and foundations.

STEP-UP OMAHA! recruits, trains, and places prepared Omaha youth and young adults age 14 to 21, in mutually beneficial paid summer jobs and work experience opportunities.

STEP-UP OMAHA! builds on the Empowerment Network and community partners’ successes in hiring and placing over 5,000 participants over the past eleven years. Based on its commitment to building a highly competitive workforce of the future, the City of Omaha is prepared to make a significant investment in helping to expand the employment program.

In 2020, the Step-Up Omaha program is growing and expanding. With the City of Omaha, United Way and other local funders supporting, the program is expected to connect 800 youth to career exploration, on the job training and internships.

With the support of the Charles E. Lakin Foundation, a pilot program, Step-Up Council Bluffs will be launched for the first time.

KETV covers Step-Up Omaha and Step-Up Council Bluffs Launch

WOWT Channel 6 Covers 2020 Press Conference and Expansion



The vision of the Step-Up Omaha! program is collaborating to bridge the employment gap and invest in the workforce of the future by recruiting, training, and preparing career-minded youth and young adults in our community to make positive life choices, empowering them to fully maximize their personal potential through educational and career opportunities.



1. Education
2. Exploration
3. Employment
4. Entrepreneurship
5. Engagement

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 Club of the Midlands, Heartland Workforce Solutions, Hope Center for Kids, Girls Inc., Metropolitan Community College, Omaha Economic Development Corporation, Omaha Housing Authority, Omaha Public Schools, PACE,Urban League of Nebraska and the United Way of the Midlands.




As the Empowerment Network’s Step-Up Omaha! employment program moves into its 13th year, it continues to build on its successes, which included expanding its reach city-wide and working with both community and businesses partners to connect more than 5,000 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.

Summer employment has been proven to be a vital component to engaging youth and putting them on the right path to 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.

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 16-21 in the Step-Up Omaha Jobs, Careers, and Intern program gained valuable work experience at over 80 work sites, including American National Bank, UNMC, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, Woodmen, Omaha Public Schools, Omaha Police Department, Jimmy Johns, Arby’s 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.

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

    • Health Careers – CHI Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Charles Drew Health Center
    • Arts, Culture, History and Entertainment – Love’s Jazz and Arts Center & El Museo Latino
    • IT/STEM Careers – 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, U.S. Probations Office
    • Sports, Events, and Hospitality – TD Ameritrade, CenturyLink Center and MECA
    • Agriculture and Food Production – No More Empty Pots, Permaculture
    • Entrepreneurship – SocialPreneur Lab,  Boys & Girls Club’s Career Launch Program
    • Business and Corporate Executive Leadership – WoodmenLife
    • Trades Construction, Culinary, Automotive,– OPS Career Center
    • College Visits – UNO, Metropolitan Community College, Bellevue University, Kaplan University

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