Nebraska Appleseed

We Fight for Justice and Opportunity for all Nebraskans

aka Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest   |   Lincoln, NE   |


Nebraska Appleseed is a nonprofit organization that fights for justice and opportunity for all Nebraskans. We take a systemic approach to complex issues—such as child welfare, immigration, affordable health care, and poverty—and we take our work wherever it can do the most good, whether that's in the courthouse, at the Capitol, or with the community.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Becky Gould

Main address

PO Box 83613

Lincoln, NE 68501-3613 USA

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NTEE code info

Civil Rights, Advocacy for Specific Groups (R20)

Public Interest Law/Litigation (I83)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (W01)

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

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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?

Economic Justice

Our Economic Justice program aims for Nebraska to have effective public systems so all Nebraskans can become financially secure and have a real chance to achieve the American Dream. The Economic Justice Program focuses on: (1) Protecting access, strengthening public benefits and essential work supports to create pathways out of poverty (e.g., the cash assistance program Aid to Dependent Children (ADC), child care subsidies, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance); (2) promoting adult education and skills training to help adults get the education they need to secure employment with family-supporting wages; (3) Reducing hunger in Nebraska by strengthening Nebraska's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and expanding access to feeding programs for low-income children; and, (4) Defending the legal rights of low-income Nebraskans to access public assistance programs.

Population(s) Served
Working poor
Extremely poor people
Unemployed people
Low-income people

Our Immigrants & Communities Program uses a variety of these strategies to create strong, vibrant, inclusive, and engaged communities. Through policy advocacy, leadership development, community organizing, coalition building, civic engagement, inclusion efforts and more, we have worked hard to create a Nebraska that is a great place to live for everyone.

Population(s) Served
Immigrants and migrants
Undocumented immigrants
Migrant workers
Refugees and displaced people

The health and wellbeing of our communities depends on the health and wellbeing of all Nebraskans. Health care coverage is a vital part of living a good life. Nebraskans with health insurance are physically healthier – and economically more secure. They seek out preventative care, they see a doctor when they need to, and they’re more likely to bounce back, physically and financially, from injury or illness. We work to ensure:
● Every Nebraskan has access to affordable health coverage.
● Every Nebraskan has the information they need to enroll in and use health insurance.

We’re working to make sure that important laws and programs that provide health care coverage like Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Affordable Care Act, are implemented properly in our state and that these programs are simple and easy to use.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Unemployed people
Working poor
Low-income people

Appleseed’s Child Welfare Program advocates for systemic change for Nebraska youth to ensure the child welfare system provides safety, stability, and a smooth transition to adulthood for the more than 3,800 children currently in foster care, the approximately 300 young adults who age out each year as well as the over 6,600 children affected by the juvenile justice system. Our work includes advocating for strong supports to assist youth in the child welfare system and youth aging out of these systems who are transitioning to adulthood, ending homelessness for youth with system experience, and decreasing the disproportionate share of youth of color in the child welfare system.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Foster and adoptive children
Foster and adoptive parents
Out-of-home youth

Where we work


13th Annual Chancellor's "Fulfilling the Dream" Award 2010

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Closing the Gap Award 2009

Community Health Endowment of Lincoln

Roger Baldwin Civil Libertarian of the Year Award 2009

American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska

Gerald Henderson Human Rights Award 2004

Lincoln Commission on Human Rights

Leadership for a Changing World Award 2001

Ford Foundation

Robert M. Spire Public Service Award 2020

Omaha Bar Association

Health Care Wave Award 2019

Families USA

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.

*Make sure all Nebraskans have a real chance to achieve the American Dream.
*Break down barriers to opportunity and build pathways out of poverty for low-income Nebraskans.
*Reform Nebraska's child welfare system so all kids have a chance at a safe, stable, and strong future.
*Ensure all Nebraskans have access to quality, affordable health care.
*Promote strong, vibrant, integrated and engaged communities that welcome Nebraska immigrants as neighbors.

Immigrants and Communities Program:
*Organize local immigrant teams and allies across the state to encourage the state legislature to stop anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, and voter suppression proposals and support immigration reform at the state and federal level that focuses on keeping families together.
*Promote our “Nebraska is Home" campaign, which works with receiving communities to create welcoming and inclusive communities for immigrants and refugees.
*Provide outreach on deportation defense information and resources to families across the state, and identify organizations and individuals able to play a role in emergency response both at the statewide and local level.

Health Care Access Program:
*Continue the work of our “Insure the Good Life" Campaign, a grassroots, collaborative effort to empower Nebraskans to stand up for quality, affordable health care. This campaign assists community members and organizations to advocate for three policy objectives: 1) Expand Medicaid in Nebraska to get health care coverage for Nebraskans who fall in the Medicaid coverage gap, 2) Protect the Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Programs from structural changes and cuts and ensure that those covered continue to have access to health care, and 3) Protect important provisions of the Affordable Care Act that are key to keeping Nebraskans healthy.

Child Welfare Program:
*Continue a coalition-led effort to ensure successful implementation of the federal Strengthening Families Act (SFA) in Nebraska, a law that aims to promote safety, permanency, well-being, and normalcy for youth in foster care and requires state child welfare agencies, contracted providers, courts, and other system stakeholders to effectively implement the new policies and procedures.
*Ensure former foster youth have the needed supports to successfully transition to adulthood, which includes monitoring and overseeing implementation of the Bridge to Independence program (B2I), which extends services and supports to age 21 for young people who age out of foster care.

Economic Justice Program:
*Promote policies to improve the structure of and access to work support programs and quality jobs, such as paid medical and family leave programs, predictable scheduling, and mandatory rest break policies.
*Strengthen the vitality of and access to public benefits on which low-income families rely, and defend against harmful cuts in federal and state budgets to public assistance programs.
*Reduce hunger in Nebraska by strengthening the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and expanding access and funding to school based feeding programs. We are promoting state-level policies to increase eligibility for SNAP, such as raising the income limit needed to qualify and repealing the ban on SNAP benefits to individuals convicted of drug felonies.

At Appleseed, our staff is comprised of attorneys, social workers, community organizers, and policy specialists take a systemic approach to complex issues such as child welfare, immigration policy, affordable healthcare and poverty. We employ 30 full-time staff who have a wealth of experience, knowledge, and background in working with community partners towards our goals.

We also recognize that fighting the good fight often means not fighting at all – but finding consensus and allies who support our cause. We work with a variety of stakeholders to find common ground because we believe the best way to accomplish real change in Nebraska is by working together. The best way to build a stronger community is as a community.

The following are just a few examples of how Appleseed stands up for justice and opportunity for all Nebraskans:
*Won a court case (Webb v. Phillips) clarifying that young adults exiting Nebraska's foster care system are entitled to Medicaid coverage until they turn 26 just like their peers who are able to stay on their parents' insurance.
*Led efforts to override two gubernatorial vetoes to pass legislation that allows young immigrants who came to the U.S. as children access to drivers' licenses and professional licenses so they can contribute more fully to their communities.
*Provided leadership development training, Know Your Rights presentations, and worker safety training to thousands of Nebraska workers, immigrants, and local leaders across the state in both urban and rural areas.
*Won a federal court class action lawsuit (Kai v. Ross) restoring $18 million in Medicaid health benefits to more than 10,000 low-income working mothers who had been wrongly denied access required by federal law. (2006)
*Won a class action lawsuit (K.D. & S.L v. Winterer) on behalf of children with developmental disabilities who were denied necessary behavioral health treatments under Medicaid. (2015)
*Settled a class action lawsuit (Leiting-Hall v. Phillips) to require the State of Nebraska to process applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in a timely manner, protecting access to basic meals for up to 170,000 Nebraska families. (2016)
*Successfully advanced legislation to allow low-income, working parents to pursue education under the Aid to Dependent Children assistance program.
*Defeated several socially toxic and economically self-defeating anti-immigrant bills by educating lawmakers and mobilizing thousands of Nebraskans to take action.
*Worked with lawmakers to pass a comprehensive package of child welfare reform legislation in 2012 after the state's failed attempt to privatize the foster care system.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    People paid low wages or who receive low-incomes,

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes, Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?


Nebraska Appleseed

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Nebraska Appleseed

Board of directors
as of 11/02/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Catherine Wilson

University of Nebraska College of Law

Term: 2023 - 2020

Josh Bartee

Enterprise Bank

Michael Berry


Carol Bloch

Beatty Brasch

Center for People in Need

Stuart Chittenden


Tim Christian

Night Fox Entertainment

Tim Cuddigan

Cuddigan Law

Roger Gonzales

University of Nebraska Medical Center

Wanda Gottschalk

Kamron Hasan

Husch Blackwell LLP

Naomi Hattaway

Front Porch Investments

Katie Joseph

Cline Williams Wright Johnson Oldfather LLP

Derrick Martinez

M. Dewayne Mays

Retired, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Randall Moody

Shirley Peng

Garrett Schwindt

Danelle Smith

Big Fire Law & Policy Group

John Smolsky


Megan Wright

Cline Williams Wright Johnson Oldfather LLP

Patty Zieg

Arthur Zygielbaum

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Catherine Wilson

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 7/21/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation