aka Empowerment Network   |   Omaha, NE   |


The Empowerment Network works together with the residents and leaders to TRANSFORM the ECONOMIC condition and QUALITY OF LIFE of African Americans, North Omaha residents, and citizens in the Greater Omaha region. The goal is to close long-standing gaps in employment, entrepreneurship, education, housing and other quality of life factors to transform Omaha into a thriving and prosperous city, in every zip code and neighborhood.

Ruling year info



Willie D Barney

Main address

2401 Lake Street, Suite 110

Omaha, NE 68110 USA

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NTEE code info

Community, Neighborhood Development, Improvement (S20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Key Areas of Focus for African-Americans and North Omaha 2025: 1. Personal Challenge and Collective Works – Each Individual Doing Their Part & Working Collaboratively 2. Corridor Revitalization - Entrepreneurship, Contracting and Business Districts 3. Employment - Jobs, Job Training and Careers 4. Education and Youth Development – Cradle to Career Education 5. Housing, Streets and Transportation – Home Owners & Thriving Neighborhoods 6. Safety and Justice – Violence Reduction and Justice Reform 7. Health and Healthy Families – Strong and Healthy Families

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Step-Up Omaha! Youth Employment Program and North Omaha Entrepreneurship Collaborative

Step Up Omaha connects youth to career exploration, jobs and interns; and connect families with resources and opportunities. STEP-UP OMAHA! recruits, trains, prepares and places Omaha youth and young adults age 14 to 21, in mutually beneficial paid summer jobs and work experience opportunities.

The Step-Up Omaha collaboration works to bridge the employment gap and invest in the workforce of the future by recruiting, training, and preparing at-risk youth & young adults. Continued support of the program will help to continue reducing gun violence and increasing employment; increase the number of boys and young men of color engaged in employment opportunities; Connect students to career mentors; expose youth to career opportunities including STEM fields; and secure new business partners and work-sites in emerging fields.

1. Career Exploration: Employment Training, Site Visits
2. Employment: On-the-Job Training and Work Experiences (16 and older)
3. Education: Academic Recovery, Vocational, STEM, Entrepreneurship, Health, College Prep
4. Enrichment: Career and Life Experiences

The Step-Up Omaha! program consists of the following components: Career exploration. Employment training. Site visits and guest speakers related to employment. Participants experience on-the-job training. The program also focuses on academic achievement where participants are connected with resources that assist with credit recovery, vocational, GED, entrepreneurship, health and wellness and college prep. Throughout the program participants focus on career exploration with experts in their respective fields and immersion field trips to local businesses such as UNMC, No More Empty Pots, and WoodmenLife. Students also explore STEM, audio visual, auto body, and EMT careers at the Omaha Public Schools Career Center. Participants in the 14 and 15 age group are paid a stipend of $100 per week for their 20 hours of work. While the 16 and up age group participants are paid 10.00 per hour at their worksite. Each participant is assigned a coach from a partner organization to support the participants learning throughout the summer.

The Step-Up Omaha! Youth Employment Program is now a nationally recognized model.

North Omaha Entrepreneurship Collaborative (serves adults and youth)
In partnership with Revive! Omaha Magazine, the Empowerment Network has worked to bring together key organizations to form the North Omaha Entrepreneurship Collaborative. One of the top priorities identified by the community is to increase the number of businesses in North Omaha and African-American businesses city-wide.

Since 2012, Revive! in partnership with the Empowerment Network have hosted a monthly luncheon for African-American business owners and entrepreneurs. Over 350 African-American business owners and entrepreneurs have participated in various sessions, workshops, and special events.

In the fall of 2014, the Network and Revive! worked with the community and small business support organizations to document an Entrepreneurship Pathway for North Omaha and African-American businesses. The road map is updated each year with a major evolution taking place in 2020 as new partners have come on board. The work continues as a number of organizations and businesses have agreed to work together to increase entrepreneurship and business growth in North Omaha.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

In 2009, based on three years of ground work and collaboration, the Empowerment Network worked with the Omaha Public Schools District and a number of other partners to develop a comprehensive plan for education in North Omaha referred to as the Cradle to Career Initiative.

11 years later, the Cradle to Career Collaborative has worked together to produce tangible results. The high school graduation rates have improved for African-American students from 50% to 81%. The percent of African-Americans with bachelor degrees has improved from 16% to 22% based on the American Community Survey. Community partners are working with the Omaha Public Schools District to provide more services including, but not limited to: Early Childhood Education, Mentoring, Physical and Mental Health, Vision Screening, ACT and College Prep, Summer Jobs and Internships, On the Job Training, After School Programming and much more.

The collective work has been recognized by Harvard University, US Department of Education, Obama Foundation, National Education Association and others.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Omaha 360 helps to build collaboration between community and law enforcement; prevents engagement in juvenile justice system and helps to reduce gun violence. Omaha 360 focuses on reducing gun violence through prevention, intervention, enforcement support, re-entry and support services.

Since 2008, the 360 Collaborative has grown measurably and significant progress has been made with expanding partnerships in North, South and West Omaha. Innovative initiatives such as the Omaha 360 Mobile Jobs and Resource Fair have been launched and numerous existing efforts like Harmony Week and Door-to-Door Neighborhood Outreach have been expanded and enhanced. Weekly participation in the Omaha 360 meetings has increased, the advisory group has attracted even more city and county leaders, and partnerships with the police department and other law enforcement have expanded. The Omaha 360 strategy has been formally adopted by the City of Omaha, Douglas County and other governmental agencies.

Omaha 360 is an evidence-based city-wide violence prevention and intervention strategy. The Omaha 360 Collaborative uses comprehensive model focused on collaboration, prevention, intervention, enforcement and support services. The Omaha 360 Director convenes and facilitates strategic and tactical meetings; coordinates with partner agencies to assure alignment of activities; works with participants to implement best practice and evidence-based solutions; hosts community meetings and topic specific summits to address hot and emerging issues; gathers and presents data and trends to assure informed decisions; and, continuously reaches out to potential participants.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

North Omaha Village Zone - Connecting a Rich History with a Sustainable, Thriving Future

A comprehensive. collaborative development initiative developed in partnership with the Empowerment Network, Omaha Economic Development Corporation, Nebraska Investment Finance Authority, Family Housing Advisory Services, Holy Name Housing, City of Omaha and North Omaha Residents and Stakeholders.

A Connected, Healthy, Sustainable and Thriving Community

* Develop An Inclusive, Comprehensive Vision (25+ Year Vision)
* A Mixed-Income Neighborhood
* An Implementation Plan with Financial Resources
* A Catalyst to Future Development in North Omaha

The North Omaha Village Zone Revitalization Plan was developed by the community and approved 7-0 by Omaha City Council in 2011. Over 800 residents and stakeholders, youth and adults, participated in the development of the plan.

Since that time large scale public/private partnerships have formed and hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in the rebirth of North Omaha. On an annual basis, the Empowerment Network hosts community meetings to provide updates on the plan, gather community feedback and identify priorities.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

In 2011, the Empowerment Network partnered with local African-American corporate managers and executives to form the African-American Professionals Network (AAPN)

One of the first efforts was to conduct a survey of African-American professionals in the Omaha community. The 130+ respondents came from a variety of fields and industries including, but not limited to: Transportation, Food & Health, Telecommunications, Insurance, Non-profits, Finance & Banking, and Education. The participants were primarily between the ages of 25-54, with 60% born and raised in the Omaha metro.

The survey responses provided insights regarding: the strengths of Omaha; areas for improvement; reasons why African-Americans leave Omaha; reasons why African-Americans stay in Omaha; and, their recommendations for making Omaha a great place for African-Americans to live, work, play and worship. The top priorities identified were: Leadership Development; Career Advancement and Coaching; Professional and Social Networking; Community Engagement and Influence; and Corporate and Community Alignment.

The plan is updated annually with input from Advance Omaha participants and partners.

To transform Omaha into a city that is recognized as a great place for African-Americans to live, work, play, worship, and raise a family. We will work together to ensure the representation of African-Americans in all sectors at every level of Omaha's workplace meets or exceeds the percent of African-Americans in the community.

10 Point Strategy:
1. CEO Racial Diversity Leadership Cabinet
2. Racial Diversity Scorecard and Survey
3. CHRO Racial Diversity Leadership Roundtable
4. Strategic Thinking and Cultural Diversity Training
5. Redefine the Game Institute - Career Advancement & Leadership
6. Leadership Development including Summits and Conferences
7. African-American Employee Resource Groups
8. Pathways and Pipelines: Youth and Adults
9. Supplier Diversity
10. Community-based Engagement & Leadership

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

A PLAN FOR NORTH OMAHA & BEYOND! North Omaha 2025 Goals:
Working together to transform Omaha into a great city, thriving and prosperous, in every zip code and neighborhood.

5,000 Connected to Living Wage+ Jobs & Careers
2,000 Annual Jobs for Youth & Young Adults
250 New and/or Expanded Businesses with employees
95%+Graduation Rate/Prepared for College & Careers
2,500 New and/or Improved Housing Units
50% Participating in Neighborhood Associations/Orgs.
80% Safer and Healthier Community
2,500+ Families – Lifted out of Poverty
250,000 Annual Visitors to the N.O. Village Zone
50-65%+ Voting in Local and National Elections

Goals and strategies developed with the input of over 4,000+ residents and leaders & 4,000+ youth and young adults. Annual benchmarks have been established. The goals and strategies are reviewed and updated each year.

Entrepreneurship, Contracting and Business Districts: Revitalize Strategic Corridors
1.Revitalize key strategic corridors and targeted neighborhoods in North Omaha:
•North 24th, with focus on 24th & Lake - Build and connect economic engines for Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Business)
•Malcolm X/Adams Park
2.Launch and expand small businesses and contractors with support of entrepreneurship centers and hubs
3.Facilitate training and mentoring for small businesses and contractors, with focus on residents
4.Create/expand access to credit & capital including specific funds; grow small & med.-sized businesses
5.Work with businesses and organizations to address equity, diversity, inclusivity, promotions and wages
6.Create collective investment and ownership strategies and implement successful models (including joint ventures)

Employment and Job Training: Create Jobs and Sustainable, Higher Wage Employment
1.Link unemployed and underemployed residents in targeted geographic areas to current work opportunities (address barriers to job attainment, including transportation)
2.Bridge the gap of open jobs and future in demand industries, expanded, and subsidized (paid) job training programs; equip current residents with the necessary skills to achieve employment
3.Use incentives and development funds to recruit, launch, develop and expand businesses with higher wage jobs in North Omaha
4.Increase employment, summer and year round internships, for youth and young adults
5.Facilitate career advancement opportunities; address equity, diversity, inclusion, promotions and wages
6.Connect underemployed residents to emerging and sustainable higher wage careers; address wage gap; encourage employers to hire local residents and ex-offenders (reentry)

Education & Youth Development: Improve Educational Outcomes - Cradle to Career
1.Invest in early childhood education
2.Improve family/community engagement
3.Create excellence and equity in every neighborhood school and increase investments & alignment in high poverty schools;
4.Increase percentage of students graduating from high school prepared for careers & college

Housing, Neighborhoods & Transportation : Create Home Owners and Thriving Neighborhoods
1.Improve financial literacy; increase home ownership
2.Build/expand mixed-income neighborhoods;
3.Address housing stability: veterans, ex-offenders & others
4.Invest to address dilapidated homes, vacant lots, absentee landlord & demolition
5.Improve streets/multi-modal transportation

Safety/Violence Prevention and Justice/Prison/Reentry Reform: Reduce Violence & Incarceration
1.Expand/invest in proactive violence prevention/intervention programs
2.Expand effective community policing, accountability & justice efforts;
3.Assess/expand alternatives to detention and incarceration

Strong Families Access to Healthcare & Healthy Foods
1. Address mental & behavioral health
2. Increase access to healthy foods
3.Reduce health disparities/increase physical exercise

The Network model incorporates best practices and fresh insights identified by researching the findings from hundreds of years of African-American movements, strategies, blueprints and agenda. WE have worked hard to gather the thoughts, ideas and involvement of our community to localize, create and implement our own action plan. We have identified issues, but have focused our attention on solutions. With God directing our paths, we are making progress.

Initially designed and launched by African-Americans and North Omaha residents, the Empowerment Network collaboration now includes people of all races across the city, county, region and nation. Over 500 organizations and thousands of individuals have participated. The network model is now recognized regionally and nationally. National groups are traveling to Omaha to learn more about how they can implement similar work in their own cities.

1. Presented at the national Obama Foundation Conference and traveled with Omaha team including Step-Up Alumni.

2. Expanded our Diversity and Inclusion Program with more strategic partners and launched new initiatives with CEOs, CHROs and diversity champions

3. Facilitated and managed weekly and monthly collective impact collaborative groups. Hosted highly successful and well-attended summits on Health, Housing, Education, Employment and Job Training, Violence Prevention, Transportation and Arts, Culture and Revitalization.

4. Hosted two of our largest and most successful conferences...Rebuilding the Village Conferences and African American Leadership Conferences.

5. Expanded the Youth Entrepreneurship Program

6. Hosted another successful Striving for Success with hundreds of African American Young men and 50 black male mentors and role models from every sector

7. Hosted one of our largest and most productive Adopt A Block Summits and organized the annual events for Harmony Week.

8. Expanded Redefine the Game to over 50 total participants with cohort one and two combined. Hosted a well-attended graduation with many participants receiving promotions.

9. Served our community with one of the largest and most successful Christmas in the Village community celebrations and holiday traditions.

10. Facilitated the planning and implementation for the largest Native Omaha Days Festival in the history of the event.

11. Kept the community informed and connected through Village Connector, e-mails, social media and consistent forums and meetings.

12. Received the National Education Association MLK Memorial Award for our work with Cradle to Career, Step Up, Omaha 360 and others initiatives related to human and civil rights



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Board of directors
as of 02/22/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Tim Christian

Teresa Hunter

John Ewing

Gregory Johnson

Teresa Negron

Aja Anderson

Timothy Christian

Cynthia Hume