Step Up Omaha!

STEP-UP Omaha!
Youth Employment & Entrepreneurship Program

Step-Up Omaha! is an initiative of The Empowerment Network in partnership with the City of Omaha and Charles E. Lakin Foundation in collaboration with:  Omaha Public Schools, Urban League of Nebraska, Hope Center for Kids, Girls Inc., Boys and Girls Club – North, South and West, Heartland Workforce Solutions, Metropolitan Community College and others. 

Step-Up Omaha! recruits, trains, prepares and places Omaha youth and young adults age 14 to 21, in mutually beneficial paid summer and year round jobs and work experience opportunities. Since 2008, the collective has connected 7,000 youth and young adults to career exploration, hands-on job training, internships, entrepreneurship, civic engagement and leadership.

Participants have gained experience working with hundreds of non-profits, small businesses, governmental agencies and Fortune 500 companies. The program includes participants from North, South and West Omaha.  With the valuable financial support of the City of Omaha, Charles E. Lakin Foundation, United Way of the Midlands, Office of Violence Prevention, Obama Foundation, Kiewit Foundation, Lozier Foundation, Holland Foundation, businesses, and community residents, Step-Up has expanded in measurable ways.

For more information, please call 402-502-5153 or go to or

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 7,000 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 2023, the Step-Up Omaha program will continue growing and expanding. With the City of Omaha, Charles E Lakin Foundation, United Way and other local funders supporting, the program is expected to connect 800 to 1,000 youth to career exploration, on the job training, internships and entrepreneurship opportunities.

With the support of the Charles E. Lakin Foundation, a pilot program, Step-Up Council Bluffs will be launched for the first time in 2023.

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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: Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands, Heartland Workforce Solutions, Hope Center for Kids, Metropolitan Community College, Omaha Public Schools, Urban League of Nebraska and the United Way of the Midlands.



   Interns with City of Omaha and Mayor’s Office 

As the Empowerment Network’s Step-Up Omaha! employment program moves into its 15th 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 7,000 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 $14 or more 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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