Leaders present research and solutions, looking for opportunities

Issue Cafe in February provide opportunity for leaders to share research on key issues and develop relationships for lasting change

Upcoming Issue Cafes:

  • Payday Lending on Tuesday, Feb. 11
    • Learn about and get involved in the state referendum to limit predatory payday lending.
  • What’s Happening in the Unicameral on Tuesday, Feb. 18
    • Hear from Jo Giles of the Coalition for a Strong Nebraska about what bills are getting some attention in this year’s Unicameral session, specifically on topics around environmental sustainability, mental health, and more.
  • Decriminalizing Mental Health on Tuesday, Feb 25
    • Director of Douglas County Jail Mike Meyers and Douglas Co. Commissioner Mary Ann Borgeson Join the Mental Health Action Team for a panel exploring solutions to keeping people with mental illness out of the Criminal Justice system.

Healthy Housing on February 4

The Housing Coalition that secured the 2019 proactive Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance led conversations about next steps towards affordable housing on the first Tuesday issue cafe of February. Leaders gave a quick update on the rental registration which is now open (learn more here), what work still needs to be done after last year’s important victory, housing inequality across the city, why housing needs to be a more prominent issue to policy makers, and what conversations are happening in the Unicameral about affordable housing now.

The crowd then broke into groups for house-meeting like discussions about the info and people’s own experiences. Several institutions shared stories about the burden on community groups like nonprofits and churches for rental and utility assistance, calling for partnerships and improved policy. Going forward, building power and building relationships that lead to successful passage of improved policy is the aim. Participants were asked to submit commitments they would take to continue building relationships and learning more.

October Community Organizing Training a Success

60 leaders attended a 3 Day Organizer training on October 17-19. Three IAF organizers from Des Moines, Los Angeles, and Dallas led the training which covered topics about how we use and gain power, community organizing practices like individual meetings and house meetings, how to do power analysis, why organizing with institutions works, and more. The training was a great refresher for may leaders who have been around the block with community organizing, as well as trained several new leaders on the values and practices of community organizing. Leaders also met the new Organizer, Sarah Keeney, who starts at IPL and OTOC this December!

Issue Cafes in November

IPL partners with OTOC to provide Issue Cafes to educate the public around current events, the work of OTOC Action Teams, and ways people can become engaged on issues important to them.

Emergency Mental Health Services

A panel of speakers spoke about emergency mental health services currently available in the Omaha Metro area and new ones being planned.

Some resources shared:

Nebraska Medicine Director of Behavioral Health: Dr. David Cates

UNMC will be opening a Psychiatric Emergency Service next July. They are currently treating 3,000  psychiatric crisis patients a year, but a regular emergency room is not ideal for someone in psychiatric crisis where staff may not be trained for that and wait times for specific psychiatric care can take up to 24 hours. They are currently only discharging 47% of psych patients, but would like to be closer to discharge at least 2/3 of psych patients

Lasting Hope

Lasting Hope is CHI’s psych ER open 24/7 open to all ages. They also have 64 adult inpatient care beds, including 12 special care beds. There is always a trained mental health professional on duty in the ER.

Omaha Police Department Mental Health Coordinator: Lindsay Kroll LIMHP

Omaha Police Department just established a mental health unit. They are still collecting data about the mental health calls they receive and respond to. Currently, there are three therapists who acts as a co-responders who self dispatch on mental health calls to arrive with law enforcement. Therapists are trained to act differently than regular law enforcement, and can often diffuse a crisis without acting with force. The program is working well, but they only have 3 co-responders that only work regular business hours. Another program the police department has in an opt-in training for officers to become Crisis Intervention Trained (CIT) to better respond to metal health crises. This program is growing and offered to officers from across the state. They are also working to develop mental health first aid training for officers.

Director of Criminal Justice Behavioral Health initiatives at Region 6: Vicki Maca

Vicki works with the Stepping Up program for people who ended up in prison due to mental health emergencies. When the Mental Health system is not able to respond, many people end up in jail, and putting sick people in jail is not a good solution. The Stepping Up Initiative gives counties resources and support to reduce the mentally ill people in jail by bringing stakeholders together and collecting data about jail residents and their current care.  Then, the stakeholders develop a local plan to meet the following goals:

  1. Reduce the amount of people with mental illness in jails
  2. Reduce the stay of mentally ill people in jail
  3. Increase connections to community before release to provide a continuum of care and support
  4. reduce recidivism

Learn more about Region 6’s Stepping Up Initiative here



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Summer Training Series

Private and Public Relationships

The Summer Training Series closed on Monday, August 12 with IAF Regional Organizer Paul Turner leading a session on Public and Private Relationships to over 60 leaders. Private relationships are those with people like family and friends, the people you are authentic, relaxed, and comfortable with. Public relations are with who we encounter in our work, civic life, and churches. These public relationships are treated differently than private relationships- they are about getting things done, having tension and accountability, and performing the required role. For an moving example of a private relationship, read This Eulogy for a New York City Fire Captain who was killed in the World Trade Center. The idea of camaraderie is explored as different than friendship, requiring trust, accountability, and demanding better of each other of the well being of the whole and the greater community.



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Spanish Leadership Formation

80 Hispanic leaders from more than 21 different institutions gathered for a two-day leadership formation on June 21 and June 22. Sponsored by the Institute for Public Leadership, Omaha Together One Community, Catholic Campaign for Human Development and Inter-faith Education Fund, these participants learned how to connect one’s faith to relational organizing practices. The leadership curriculum was inspired by wisdom and faith tradition, using Scripture and theological readings. The training started with a shared meal at St. Pius X Catholic Church Friday night. Here, participants acted out Scripture in order to understand the purpose of community. Then, the training moved to College of St. Mary’s campus, where participants learned the purpose of baptismal community, collective leadership, pressure on families and communities and qualities of leadership. One of the participants, Jose Fortoso, stated that the training was a great learning experience and that he wished he would have this workshop earlier. The training closed with key learning points and goals that participants want to bring back to their congregations and institutions. This training has been available in various parts of the US, but we are hopeful that we can continue fostering the local Hispanic leadership.

June Issue Cafes: explore organizing and power generation

Environmental Sustainability with OPPD

On June 27, we had our final June issue cafe. 17 people attended to learn about three new OPPD programs: community solar, electrical vehicle rebates, and the low-income energy efficiency pilot. On April 1st, OPPD announced their community solar program that allows you to get affordable solar energy. Solar energy uses light from the sun to create energy, which serves as a clean and sustainable process. Each solar share is $0.69 per share for residents where each share represents 100 kilowatts per month. Then, another charge will be added to your OPPD bill. The shares, however, were completely sold out in just one month before they were even opened for commercial sales. The OPPD stronger suggested to enroll in the waitlist, which will help show the high demand and interest. Currently there are 250 on the waitlist, and you can join it too! The electric vehicle rebate program is a pilot program that incentives sustainable purchases. With a new electrical vehicle and a charging station, you can get a $2,500 rebate. A $500 rebate is offered for a charging station at home. Other rebates include dealership discounts and federal tax incentives. The low income energy efficiency pilot program partners with community philanthropies to educate and assist with homeowners with incomes at or below $32,000. The program allows professionals to go to each customer’s home in order to assess and fix any problems that decreases efficiency. Although this program is only for homeowners, the program wants to provide data that will potentially create a program for rental property as well. Overall, these programs can offer so much to our community!



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IPL helps leaders build relationships to aid passage of American Dream and Promise Act in House

The American Dream and Promise Act, H.R. 6, passed in the House of Representatives on June 4

The bill passed with a 237-187 vote. Only seven republicans supported the bill, including our Omaha-area representative, Don Bacon. IPL has worked with leaders from the TPS association of Nebraska and OTOC Immigration Action Team to build relationships with elected officials and help communities across Omaha get to know their immigrant neighbors. In 2019 alone, leaders met with Rep. Bacon, attended town halls, and called countless times to build a relationship with him, have him get to know the TPS recipients and Dreamers in his district so that he ultimately supported this bill. Other positive community out reach and pressure is effective in making positive steps in the right direction (see this article about Chamber of Commerce support for Dreamers and TPS). Continue readying to see more about how relationship-building helped influence Don Bacon’s vote and the outcome of this bill.

“They’re in no man’s land, and we should provide them some security,” Bacon said. “I’ve committed to these guys that I would not forget them.”

Omaha World Herald

Building relationship with  Rep. Don Bacon

 Om May 7, the OTOC Immigration team and the TPS Committee secured a meeting with Rep. Bacon to renew his commitment to support legislation granting permanent status to TPS holders.  Rep. Bacon continued to encourage community education about TPS and reaffirmed his support for TPS. He committed to vote for a “clean” Dream and Promise Act, the only current legislation that would have a path to citizenship for TPS holders. He fulfilled this promise on June 4 by voting FOR H.R. 6!



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IPL After-Work Gathering

On Wednesday, May 22, 2019, over 160 IPL supporters atttended the After Work Gathering at the beautiful Storz Mansion. And, 200 IPL supporters gave during Omaha Gives!

200 Donors gave

$31,710 through the OmahaGives site

$14,245 by check or OCF account as Challenge Fund

for a total of

$46,120

AND…

$1,000  First Place Participation Prize for Medium Organizations from 4 pm to Midnight from TD Ameritrade

and

$1000 Third Place Cheer Page Prize for Carol Zuegner’s Cheer Page! that had 75 donors raising $10,000! from Mammel Foundation

 For a Grand Total of

Raised!


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