Grant finalists announced

The WIN Grants Committee has selected four finalists for this year’s grant awards ballot.

WIN voting will begin Aug. 1 and run through 11:59 p.m. Aug.10. The committee condensed the voting period when this year’s proposal timeline was extended due to the pandemic quarantine.

This year, 85 letters of inquiry were received, and 16 entities were invited to submit full proposals. One nonprofit withdrew from the proposal process due to impacts of the coronavirus. The committee selected eight of the 15 proposals to advance to site visits.

Now, WIN members have the opportunity to select one nonprofit and one University of Nebraska project to receive this year’s grants. Voting information will soon be emailed to all members of record as of June 30, 2020.

The four finalists advancing to WIN voting are:

University of Nebraska Projects:

University of Nebraska at Omaha School of Music, Nebraska HeartBeats

This project partners the UNO Maverick Quartet with a neuropsychologist, a geriatric psychiatrist and a music therapist working with two Nebraska care facilities to provide space for people with dementia and their caregivers to engage, socialize and connect with each other through fun, interactive music-making adapted to individual needs. The group would study the reaction to this participatory activity to create a first-of-its-kind curriculum for people with Alzheimer’s and related dementia. The curriculum could then be disseminated for use across the state and beyond.

University of Nebraska ITS Inclusive Access and Open Educational Resources Program

A partnership including Academic Affairs, Libraries and the ITS areas will increase the faculty’s incorporation of Open Educational Resources (OER) in coursework on the university’s Lincoln, Omaha and Kearney campuses, where textbook purchases average $1,200 per student annually. The project would save students an estimated $10 million by 2023, maintain high-quality course materials and reduce financial barriers to enrollment. In addition, it would increase all students’ accessibility to course materials and increase their success rate in classes, because a study has shown that 67% of students do not purchase the textbooks required for classwork. Since the program’s initial effort to adopt OER in 2017-2018, students have saved $2.5 million in textbook costs.

Nonprofit Projects:

Center for People in Need, Lincoln, Closing the Gap

This program would offer low-income people several weeks of newly developed training to qualify for entry-level “no code” tech jobs in the Omaha and Lincoln area. Lincoln Vital Signs reported in 2019 that 87% of residents living in poverty are employed, and 51% have only a part-time job. Nebraska Tech Collaborative reported that at the same time, 10,000 tech jobs were open in the Omaha and Lincoln area. These include entry-level “no code” positions like staffing  help desks or data entry. Depending on the community’s pandemic recovery, up to 25 women, new Americans and minorities could complete training each semester in collaboration with Southeast Community College and area tech leaders. The center will provide wraparound services to remove barriers to completion.

Legal Aid of Nebraska, Omaha, Help, Education and Law Project (HELP)

Legal Aid of Nebraska, collaborating with the Omaha Veterans Administration Medical Center, seeks to expand its medical-legal partnership program to serve Nebraska veterans. While there are 29 medical-legal partnerships benefiting veterans across the nation, this would be the first in Nebraska. A VA homeless assessment survey found that unresolved legal issues are the greatest needs of homeless veterans. HELP allows Legal Aid to assist veterans who may need designations of power of attorney or guardianship for health care decisions, protect them from eviction and prevent homelessness, help them attain benefits they are entitled to, upgrade discharge status to gain eligibility for health care, and protect employment for veterans with disabilities.