Evolving Vision of the Cultural Centers Coalition

April 24, 2010

The four partners of the Cultural Centers Coalition have a cumulative total of 141 years experience, and currently provide services to over 40,000 people in Lincoln and Lancaster County, through a wide array of social, economic, educational, and cultural programs and services.

As of 2010, the Coalition is moving forward to fulfill its strategic plan, including the further development of collaborative programs that will benefit Lincoln and Lancaster County by supporting programs for youth, food and food security, health, and behavioral health.  In addition to the array of services the four agencies already provide, under the auspices of the Coalition they are actively seeking to realize the following five programs:

Public Computing Centers – In partnership with the City of Lincoln and the Lincoln Public Libraries, the Coalition centers have applied to the U.S. Dept. of Commerce for a Broadband Technology grant so they may serve as Public Computing Centers. If funded, the Jobs & Education Linkage (JEL) Computer Centers will enhance connectivity and Internet access to underserved populations. The Coalition centers will be able to provide leading-edge, high-tech computer facilities and training to the public, with a particular focus on jobs and job education. As part of the proposal, the four Coalition centers would also serve as Wi-max sites to facilitate communication for the Lincoln Police and Fire Departments.

Keepers of the Flame – In partnership with three Lincoln domestic violence agencies (Friendship Home, Voices of Hope, and the Family Violence Council), the four centers of the Coalition have applied to the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women for a project called Keepers of the Flame. If funded, the project will expand and enhance outreach, services, and collaboration in support of victims of domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual assault for ethnic and minority populations. The Keepers of the Flame project has the potential to enhance the safety of women, children, and families of Lincoln and Lancaster County.

Lincoln Group Mentors Council – The four agencies of the Coalition, in partnership with the Lincoln Public Schools, have applied to the Department of Justice for funding to support an innovative group mentoring project. The goal of the project is to enhance the effectiveness and capacity of established group mentoring programs in Lancaster County, Nebraska and thereby reduce the number of minority youth who come into contact with the justice system. The project will provide ongoing training for mentors, and greatly increase the number of youth who are served by mentoring programs.

The Sowers’ Circle Project – The Coalition continues to actively seek funding support for The Sowers’ Circle Project. The name of the project comes from the 20-foot high bronze statue of  ‘The Sower’ that stands atop the State Capital Building in downtown Lincoln, the most prominent and well-known symbol in Nebraska, With support. The Coalition will be ready to sow seeds that will establish a web of associative relationships among the hungry and undernourished communities of the city, and the encircling farms of the county. Through diverse, culturally relevant food-based microenterprise, the Sowers’ Circle Project will increase access to healthy foods and enhance self-sufficiency while invigorating the overall culinary, nutritional, and cultural well being of the Lincoln and Lancaster County community.

Lincoln Drum Circle – The four agencies of Cultural Centers Coalition have made many noteworthy contributions to the overall wellbeing of Lincoln and Lancaster County. Now the Coalition has chosen to make a significant public cultural offering through the Lincoln Drum Circle. The drum is a universal instrument, part of virtually every culture worldwide. Many traditions regard it as analogous to a heartbeat. On September 19, 2010, as part of the Festival de las Americas, the Coalition will bring together four talented drum groups to entertain and culturally enrich the public. These musical groups — representing each of the four agencies of the Coalition — will help create a healthy public awareness of the diversity of cultures in Lincoln, and also create goodwill, and community bonding.