Central Plains Center for Services

The Connected Youth Initiative seeks to build Connected Youth Communities and collaborations across rural Nebraska to help unconnected young people with experience in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, those struggling with homelessness, or who are disconnected from a family structure.  The Connected Youth Initiative (CYI) is youth driven and utilizes community resources to improve youth opportunities and networks for housing, transportation, health care, connections to peer and adult supports, educational attainment, employment, career pathways, and financial empowerment. 


Thanks to the federal Social Innovation Fund grant and a substantial investment from private and community partners, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation has expanded into rural communities the older youth system of care model. The Social Innovation Fund (SIF) is a powerful approach to transforming lives and communities that positions the federal government to be a catalyst for impact—mobilizing private resources to find and grow community solutions with evidence of results. With the simple but vital goal of finding what works, and making it work for more people, the Social Innovation Fund and its' grantees create a learning network of organizations working to implement innovative and effective evidence-based solutions to local and national challenges in three priority areas: economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development. Central Plains Center for Services is partnering across the state in bringing the Connected Youth Initiative to rural Nebraska.


Who will be served

The initiative will serve “unconnected youth” in rural Nebraska communities. Unconnected youth are defined as young people between 14-24 who find themselves disconnected from a positive life course because they:

  • are currently or have been in the Nebraska foster care system,
  • have had contact with the child protective services,
  • have had contact with the juvenile justice system (but are not on probation),
  • are homeless or near homeless,
  • are lacking the services and supports they need to make successful transitions to adulthood


CYI Goal


To build Connected Youth community collaborations across Nebraska to remove barriers and help unconnected young people reach their full potential.  Without the support of a family structure the barriers can seem insurmountable.

About the Connected Youth model

While each community’s CYI will look different depending on the needs of youth and resources in the area, required components include:


  • Central Access Navigation – A coordinated approach that ensures CYI participants get access to all of the services they need in a streamlined, common-sense way. By coordinating services and helping youth navigate them through a central access point, the communities can avoid duplication of efforts and effectively track the progress of young people.
  • Opportunity Passport™ – A nationally recognized financial literacy and asset-building program. Participating youth open Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) at a local bank, learn financial literacy skills, and save money for things like tuition, security deposits on apartments, or a car to take them to school and work. Youth savings are matched up to 4-to-1, helping them reach their goals more quickly.
  • Voluntary Youth Services - An array of basic needs services and supports including: health, mental health, housing and transportation resources, assistance in obtaining personal records (birth certificates), parenting resources, nutrition and healthy lifestyles, which are provided by multiple community partners working in unison for youth. 
  • Youth voice/Youth Leadership – Opportunities for youth leadership and advocacy through youth empowerment.

State Wide CYI Sites:

  • Omaha
  • Lincoln
  • Nebraska Panhandle
  • Broken Bow
  • Blue Valley (Southeast Nebraska)
  • Fremont
  • Hall County
  • Norfolk
  • North Platte

Program Contacts:

Cathy Minnick, Program Director

Cherie Kluender, Central Navigator
308-872-6176

Connected Youth Initiative

Offering opportunities for positive change to individuals, families & communities.

Improving Youth Opportunities