Reimagining our Work

December 14, 2022

As our communities heal from the pandemic induced trauma, existing youth-serving systems of care have found shifting and/or new needs as the country adjusts to a new normal.

Though the future of everything has changed, and how this may impact youth today and tomorrow is uncertain, our hope is to better understand the landscape as to inform future investments and grantmaking endeavors.

Incredible Opportunities

We believe our youth serving system has an incredible opportunity to reimagine our work together and consider innovative ways to maximize impact.  In early 2022, we pursued available data about Nebraska youth and the current environment as to best contribute and support post-pandemic needs. Surprisingly, the variety of reports offering available data often failed to expand that statistical information into recommendations for action.

Youth Voice

Additionally, it was recognized that without the voices of young people and their lived experience, the data interpretation lacked “meaning making” and inherently would leave organizations to leverage their own shared understanding.

Because of this, we decided to support a youth-driven study that would elevate stories in their own way and explore opportunities to amplify this need.

Through a collaborative project with the Panhandle Partnership, we initiated an environmental scan to collect the most recent available data and host conversations with youth serving organizations in the Nebraska panhandle.

We engaged Blue Agate Collaborative to co-create a project design and facilitate workshops, and GIS and Human Dimensions to perform the data collection and environmental scan reporting.

Engaging Community Organizations

The objective was to engage community organizations in reviewing the needs of young people in the Nebraska panhandle, and how we (Snow-Redfern Foundation), and hopefully other interested foundations, might best support the youth serving system of care.

“Panhandle partners have a shared experience that reorients to our current environment and affirms collective vision of opportunities.  By engaging in this study, our hope was to expand consideration about the role of foundations in supporting community partners and maximizing innovation beyond traditional services. Through recommendations from this work, we believe we will be better positioned to make data-driven decisions about our fiscal and partnership investments to enhance the lives of youth”, said Executive Director, Sara Nicholson.

On July 18th of this year (2022), we hosted a Discovery Call, facilitated by Dr. Maya Chilese of Blue Agate Collaborative, with the purpose of identifying a shared vision about the current state of community and to frame the scope of the Environmental Scan.

Following the Discovery Call, Dr. Juan-Paulo Ramirez of GIS, and Human Dimensions, completed the Environmental Scan to better understand our current environment about youth in the Nebraska panhandle, and identify opportunities for action.

On September 30th, a Focused Workshop was facilitated by Dr. Chilese to support a collective vision and opportunities to elevate among panhandle partners and foundations.  Following that session, Dr. Ramirez, and Dr. Chilese finalized the first portion of the study by providing a detailed report that outlined relevant data, summaries, themes from each session, and recommendations.

Interactive Flipbook Report

The interactive report can be found at:

We believe further exploration is necessary to adequately guide funding decisions next year, so a survey will be provided to youth-serving non-profit organizations across the state, asking for their input about how foundation funding could best impact the system, said board president, Brooke Shelmadine.

Ideally, this study would be expanded to include the entire state of Nebraska.  To do this on the scale necessary for inclusivity and statewide collaborative recommendations, we would need support from other interested foundations or donors that could contribute to increasing impact for children.

Interested in supporting this work?  Let us know by reaching out: [email protected]

This study is being used as a catalyst for guiding our 2023 and beyond grant funding decisions, allowing opportunity for data-driven planning that leverages impact for Nebraska’s most vulnerable population- our children.