Nonprofit Advocacy Training

On Wednesday, July 27th eight IPL and OTOC affiliated leaders attended a training workshop on nonprofit advocacy and lobbying. The full day training workshop was organized by the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands and was hosted on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Included in the workshop were three informative and interactive sessions:

Nonprofit Lobbying 101: This session emphasized the importance of lobbying in order to advance missions and achieve policy goals as a nonprofit organization. The session was extremely educational and outlined the parameters in which nonprofits may operate when engaging in non-partisan lobbying.

Nonprofit Lobbying 201: The second session provided insight into how the Unicameral operates, including processes like bill introductions, committee hearings, priority bills, and floor debates. It later described how the state budget operates and impacts our missions and concluded with ideas about how to confront the issues posed by monetary policy.

Nonpartisan Voter Engagement for Nonprofits: The final session highlighted the role nonprofits can play in boosting civic participation and voter turnout among people who care about and are affected by various issues and ideals. Attendees were given information and ideas for how to effectively provide resources to make voting as easy as possible for the greater community.

IPL and OTOC participants found the workshop extremely beneficial and they look forward to sharing what they learned with you!

Join us for August 4 Interfaith Solidarity Service

IPL has teamed up with OTOC and the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance to organize an Interfaith Solidarity Service on Thursday, August 4th from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Augustana Lutheran Church (3647 Lafayette Ave).

To let us know you are coming, click on this link.

Solidarity Service Image

This will be an evening that will include song, reflection and prayer from Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other faith communities in Omaha. Leaders from diverse congregations will gather together to reflect on our common humanity, appreciate our different faith traditions and customs and re-commit to working together toward creating a peace-filled community for all families.

The Interfaith Solidarity Service will be led by Rabbi Steven Abraham of Beth El Synagogue, Rev. Jan Peterson of Augustana Lutheran Church, Rev. Tony Sanders of Koinonia House of Worship and IMA, Rev. Marshall Johnson of St. Luke United Methodist, and other clergy and lay leaders.

Following the service, there will be refreshments and an opportunity to create new friendships in the Church Hall. Please let us know you will be attending by clicking this link.

Event Details:

Date: Thursday, August 4

Time: 6:00 – 7:00 pm

Augustana Lutheran Church

3647 Lafayette Ave.

IPL helps Thrive Club at Northwest HS learn about mental health

This Fall and Winter, IPL worked with students involved in the Northwest HS Thrive Club on a service project to help educate refugee and immigrant communities about mental illness and how to find behavioral health care when you need it.small group of kids with signsThe students wrote and filmed their own informational video to help other teens learn more about mental illness. Take a look at their work at the link below:

NW High Thrive Students Video about behavioral health

IPL worked with leaders of the local chapter of National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), Refugee Empowerment Center (REC) and Lutheran Family Services (LFS) to work with the 55 members of the Northwest HS Thrive Club on their 2015-16 service project. Thrive Clubs are at 5 OPS high schools and provide refugee and immigrant youth with weekly club activities where they learn leadership development skills. large group with signs

The officers at Northwest met during the Summer and decided they wanted to work with IPL and our collaborators to learn more mental illness. They met with IPL and our partners several times over the semester. The students are producing a video and some simple posters with positive mental health messages which they will post around the school.  More importantly, this group of young leaders will begin to know how they can help other members of their better understand that there is no stigma in seeking care for our minds when it is necessary.male with pic over face



Fifty refugee leaders attend workshop on Healthy Mind

large group 2
Fifty refugees from Karen, Kareni, Burmese, Nepali, Sudanese and Somali communities attended the workshop on a Healthy Mind which IPL helped organize with the Refugee Health Collaborative

IPL worked with the Refugee Health Collaborative to organize a workshop on Healthy Minds for leaders of Omaha’s refugee communities on Saturday, February 20 at Augustana Lutheran Church.

Claire Herzog  of Ready in Five and Alana Schriver of the OPS lead an informative and engaging workshop attended by fifty refugees from 6 different countries and groups.  The workshop focused on helping refugees understand what mental illness, how to maintain good mental health and how to get help for yourself or a loved one if you realize that help is needed

Six interpreters helped refugee leaders understand the basic ideas about how to maintain mental health

IPL has worked with the Refugee Health Collaborative over the last two years to develop educational programs to help refugees learn how to access preventive and primary health care in a timely manner and in an appropriate way. IPL and OTOC leaders have worked with a number of community organizations including UNMC College of Public Health, Refugee Empowerment Center, LFS, Douglas County Health Department and Embrace the Nations on this ongoing effort to improve health care for refugees in Omaha.


IPL Board & Staff issue matching challenges to OmahaGives donors

IPL Board Challenge

On Friday, May 15 the IPL Board announced that it will contribute an extra $30 to IPL for every donation that you make after 4 pm on May 20. So if you give even $10 to IPL, your contribution will result in a $40 total contribution to IPL to continue its work providing leadership and skills development to emerging leaders in Omaha.

By giving during this last 8 hour block, you can help IPL win a participation award of as much as $3000 for mid-sized non profits with the most contributions during the last 8 hours of the day. So invite all the members of your family to make a contribution to IPL during this time and help IPL win a participation award.

Rev Nelson presenting 175 clergy names at UnicameralIPL Staff Challenges

To Clergy and Religious: The IPL executive director/organizer and supporting clergy also issued a challenge saying they will contribute an extra $25 for the first 20 donations by clergy or women religious who give to IPL. So even a $10 contribution by a member of the clergy or woman religious will result in a $35 contribution to IPL.

To IPL and OTOC Trainees: The IPL executive director/organizer issued a second challenge to anyone who is involved in training programs offered by IPL. He will add $10 to the contribution of the first 20 IPL or OTOC trainees who make a first time contribution to IPL. So anyone who has been a part of Refugee Culture Night, New American Civic Academy, Refugee Women Leadership Academy or an OTOC Action Team who makes a first time contribution of even $10 will see their contribution doubled to $20.

Burundian  community Chiors
Refugee Culture Night 2014

Please take time to make a contribution to IPL so that we can continue our mission of providing leadership and skills training to emerging leaders in Omaha.


IPL organizes Refugee Women Leadership Academy

IPL held our first session of the Refugee Women Leadership Academy with 22 refugee women and their allies on Thursday, April 25th at Augustana Lutheran. Tanya Good, Nurse and Care Coordinator at Florence Clinic, discussed women’s health issues and accessing care when you lack insurance.

Group picture
Refugee Women and allies talk to Tanya Good

This session and each of the upcoming sessions will begin with time for making new friends over a dinner from one of the refugee cultures. This will be followed by a presentation and discussion led by an Omaha woman who is an expert in the topic and interested in helping refugees succeed. Each session will end with discussion about how the women can take this information back to their communities and work together to make changes in policies and laws that would benefit women and their families.

Three Karenni Women
Kareni Women enjoy new friends & dinner

Child care and interpretation will be provided for those who register by calling 402-344-4401 or by email at

The next three sessions will all be at Augustana Lutheran (3647 Lafayette Ave) from 6:00 to 7:45 pm :

Thursday May 7 –How to resolve conflicts in the best way
Thursday May 21—Housing and how to deal with landlords
Thursday, June 4 –How to use Consumer Credit, Credit Cards and buying a car

Food for the night
Great Nepali food from Druk LLC Restaurant

300 people attend lively Refugee Culture Night

Despite heavy snow fall, over 100 young adults from ten refugee communities shared their dance, song and music with a lively and diverse audience of over 300  people on Saturday, November 15 at the 3rd Refugee Cultural Night.

Burundian  community Chiors
Burundian Choir sang and danced

The dance performances ranged from highly stately traditional dances by the ethnic groups from Myanmar to a very upbeat traditional dance number by young women from the Acholi community of South Sudan.  Performance included the traditional leaping dance of the Darufuri men as well as sizzling contemporary dance numbers by Bhutanese youth who were dancing to Nepali tunes.

Darfur Men
Darfuri leaping dance
Rhakang community
Rhakang perform stately dance
Acholi Community
Acholi youth in fun dance
Kachin community
Kachin youth enjoy traditional dance


There was great ethnic food before including Noodles from Mynamar, Mandazi from Burundi, Namkin from Bhutan and tapioca from Burma. Generous sponsors and those who donated at the door helped raise $3000 which was distributed to the groups to help them continue their cultural education and performances.

Mungyit and Suzanne Doupnik
Time for making new friends
Mixed group of kids dancing a final dance
And time to “bust a move” at the end


Refugee Women participate in Civic Academy in January and February

Ten refugee women from Africa and Asia attended the four sessions of the Women Refugee Civic Academy in January and February.  Women from South Sudan, Burundi, Congo and Burma attended the four sessions where they learned how to solve problems for their families and how to understand the role of school, city, state and federal governments.

In the first session, the women learned about how public education is organized in the United States and Omaha and how they can help their children be successful in school. After looking over a map of the 11 different school districts in the Omaha area, the women learned about how children can enroll in their local school or seek to transfer to a school which might suit their interests better. The women learned about the importance of early childhood education and it was a topic of great interest as over half  had a child that was would soon be eligible for those programs.

Session 1 Saturday 2
Saturday morning session discussing school districts and how to help children succeed
Session 1 Tuesday 2
Tuesday evening group discussing the role of City of Omaha in creating a decent place to live

The refugee women were also most interested in the discussion about how you form a good working relationship with their child’s teacher, especially when there was a language barrier. The women enjoyed sharing their positive and not so positive experiences talking to teachers and relating to US schools and agreed that the relationship with teachers was very important to develop.

Subsequent sessions focused on the role of the City, State and federal governments in the United States and the role of the citizen in educating  our elected officials about community issues.

Over 160 people attended January “Issue Cafés” at Urban Abbey in January

IPL helps leaders of Omaha Together One Community (OTOC) organize educational and training events around issues that have surfaced out of hundreds of individual and small group meetings in OTOC member congregations and community organizations.

OTOC  was selected as Urban Abbey’s non-profit partner during January, 2015. IPL worked with OTOC leaders  to organize three “Issue Cafés” to discuss important issues facing Omaha and Nebraska and a fun event celebrating the diversity of our city. Over 160 people attended the issue discussions and the evening of Mexican Bingo (Lotería).

Mexican Bingo Night 2015
Mexican Bingo is a fun evening with good food, friends and a chance to practice your Spanish

Forty five people started the month off with a fun and enjoyable evening playing Mexican Bingo, eating Mexican food  and trying out their knowledge of Spanish language and culture.

Appleseed Lawyer
OTOC leaders worked with Nebraska Appleseed staff to learn why Nebraska needs Medicaid Reform

OTOC leaders put aside and focused on the challenging issue of Medicaid Reform on Thursday, January 15. Thirty two OTOC leaders met with Nebraska Appleseed Attorney Molly McCleery to better understand LB 472 which was filed to reform the current Medicaid program to make it more efficient and to cover more working families who need access to affordable health insurance.

The following week, 42 OTOC leaders from the OTOC Immigration Reform Action Team met with Justice For Our Neighbors Attorney Shane Ellison and College of St. Mary Senior Daniela Rojas to learn more about the legal basis for Obama Administration changes to federal policy regarding deportation of persons coming to the US as children and the parents of US citizen children.  Daniela, an accomplished young woman who would benefit from the newest changes to federal policy, described how challenging it was to pursue higher education when so many careers were closed off to her because of her immigration status.

Shane Ellison
JFON Lawyer Shane Ellison gave a terrific overview of federal immigration law and Deferred Action

Finally, Ken Winston of the Mary Ruth Hegemon of the OTOC Sustainability Action Team taught over 40 people about findings of the Nebraska Climate study conducted by top UNL Scientists and Sierra Club lobbyist Ken Winston discussed 7 bills pending in the Nebraska Unicameral that could impact the sustainability of the environment.

Ken Winston
Ken Winston of Sierra Club gave a careful overview of bills affecting the environment that are pending in the Unicameral