Pete Madsen knows how a dedicated community can make a difference for his students at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
With more than $10,000 raised during Wear, Black Give Back for UNO Jazz students and programs, that support is clear to see. Madsen, area coordinator for Jazz Studies at UNO, said the support reflects the program’s involvement in the community.
The funds raised during Wear Black, Give Back will allow UNO Jazz to continue to remain involved in the community. That includes programming such as the Metropolitan Area Youth Jazz Orchestra and the annual Great Plains Jazz Festival.
The support Madsen has seen this year is indicative of the hard work and connection UNO Jazz has with the Omaha community.
“I think we just have such an active and vibrant community,” he said. “We’re out performing in front of thousands of people each year, so it’s great to see that return on investment of the time and effort it takes to get out in the community.”
Most importantly, Madsen said the funds raised for the program will provide opportunities and resources that positively impact its students. He said everybody involved in UNO Jazz is appreciative of the generosity and support shown during Wear Black, Give Back.
“The funds raised during Wear Black, Give Back impact our students in many, many ways,” Madsen said. “There are so many needs within a vibrant jazz program, including travel, getting music and equipment and addressing scholarship needs. It means so much to the students to have these experiences.”
The impact of the funds raised during Wear Black, Give Back can be seen through the smiles on each student’s face.
This year’s fourth annual 24-hour fundraiser raised a record-setting $761,285 from nearly 5,000 generous donors to support the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Student organizations played an active role in this year’s Wear Black, Give Back. 59 different student groups registered to participate in this year’s fundraiser, collectively raising over $55,000.
These funds enable student organizations to focus on providing an impactful experience to students. Funds used through Wear Black, Give Back are used by student groups across campus to cover registration fees for new members, reduce travel costs and provide impactful programming.
Thank you for your support of the University of Nebraska at Omaha during this year’s Wear Black, Give Back!
You don’t have to look hard to find the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s biggest fans.
The students involved in Maverick Maniacs can be seen sporting their red-and-black bibs and using their contagious energy to create a unique game-day environment for UNO sporting events throughout the year.
Maverick Maniacs president Casey Wells, a multidisciplinary studies major from Omaha, said the club works hard to motivate and energize the UNO community for all its sporting events. In doing so, she said the club has become a team of its own.
“We try to be loud and proud and help spread the positivity to the players,” she said. “Students involved in Maverick Maniacs always have a spirited personality, and it’s not only just for sports and athletics. They’re very positive people to be around.”
Wells said gifts made to the club during Wear Black, Give Back help fuel the Maniacs’ energy. Funds raised during the giving day help the club purchase T-shirts and bibs for students, cover new-member fees and even assist with travel costs for away games.
All of this translates into a unique game-day experience that can be found only at UNO.
“Wear Black, Give Back definitely provides us with more opportunities than we would usually have,” she said. “I’m so thankful for our donors. Not only are they helping our group, but I think they’re also helping UNO in general by helping to provide school spirit and hyping up other events and student organizations on campus.”
That infectious experience drew Wells to the Maniacs as a student. In the beginning, she didn’t see herself as a dedicated Mavericks fan, but her love for the school and its athletics only grew as she became more involved in the Maniacs.
“It’s going to sound cheesy, but Maverick Maniacs kind of gave me a college purpose,” she said.
Before the Maniacs, Wells said her routine was to work, go to school and go home. Getting involved in Maverick Maniacs pushed Wells to become more involved in campus life. Ultimately, Wells said, her experience with Maverick Maniacs has been transformational.
“It made a difference by giving me more confidence in myself,” she said. “When you put yourself around positive people and just create those friendships, you kind of want to become a better person. I feel like I’ve discovered myself as a person since joining the Maniacs.”
Anthony Navarrete Figueroa was a quiet, introverted student when he began his freshman year at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
That changed in his sophomore year when he learned about the Association of Latino American Students. He walked into his first meeting of the club not knowing what to expect. However, it took only an introduction to the club for him to realize that he found his home at UNO.
“After walking into ALAS, it didn’t take me long to find people like me who I could relate to,” Navarrette Figueroa said.
The connections Navarrete Figueroa, now a junior studying architectural engineering, created in his first year as a general member of ALAS drove him to seek a leadership position in the club. As the organization’s current president, Navarrete Figueroa has seen firsthand how ALAS is able to cultivate strong relationships among its members.
“It’s crazy how fast people can connect in this organization,” he said. “Even if you don’t see them regularly, members will pick up a conversation during meetings like they were just talking the night before.”
Those opportunities to come together and deepen relationships within the ALAS community are made possible through gifts made to the club during Wear Black, Give Back. Navarrete Figueroa said the money raised during last year’s day of giving played a critical role in providing programming and resources for the club this year.
In addition to funding programming and resources for the club, Navarrete Figueroa said he hopes to use the money raised during this year’s Wear Black, Give Back to provide ALAS with the opportunity to attend the 2024 United States Hispanic Leadership Institute National Conference.
“We really appreciate all of the support from the donors who have invested money into ALAS during Wear Black, Give Back,” Navarrete Figueroa said. “These gifts are going to really help us.”
By making a gift to ALAS during Wear Black, Give Back, Navarrete Figueroa said donors are able to play a direct role in fostering growth for the Latinx community on UNO’s campus. The impact of their gifts can clearly be seen by looking at the students who call ALAS home.
“I see those genuine connections being made in ALAS,” he said. “I see students walking in as strangers and leaving as friends. We all come from similar backgrounds, and we want our students to know that this is an environment that they can feel comfortable in.”
Growing up, Camden Carmichael was always interested in sports you have probably never heard of.
Carmichael, a junior criminology and criminal justice major at the University of Nebraska Omaha, said his father encouraged him to explore things that fell outside the norm. Instead of playing football and basketball in high school, Carmichael tried sports like pole vaulting and fencing.
“I’ve always been kind of interested in the kinds of sports that are really fun and interesting, but they’re not something you get together every Sunday to watch,” he said. “When I moved to college, I realized that I missed those experiences.”
During his sophomore year at UNO, Carmichael stumbled upon the UNO Curling Club during MavFEST, an event geared toward connecting students with organizations and departments throughout campus.
The club was in its first year, and Carmichael was immediately interested in the sport, even though it was the first time he had heard of it.
“There was something in me that said, ‘I just have to see where this goes,’” he said.
Carmichael knew he was hooked on curling from the first time he was able to push the rock down the ice without falling over.
“I truthfully wasn’t expecting to like it nearly as much as I do,” he said. “You might not realize it until you’re doing it, but it’s really an exhilarating sport.”
Carmichael, now the president of the UNO Curling Club, has seen the organization thrive in its second year on campus. The club has nearly doubled in size and competes with other curling clubs throughout Nebraska and the surrounding area.
Last year’s Wear Black, Give Back was a driving force for the club’s success and continued growth. The money raised from last year’s giving day provided the club with the funds to cover registration fees for bonspiels, otherwise known as curling tournaments, and helped cover the cost of travel.
Carmichael said the funds raised during Wear Black, Give Back were critical in helping the curling club succeed in its first year on campus. More importantly, Carmichael said these gifts have opened the door for more students to discover the UNO Curling Club’s growing community.
“I’m really thankful for all of the donations and contributions, because they have helped us share our love for the sport of curling and really open the door for other people to join our community,” he said. “There are so many people in this club that are great and it’s been amazing to grow that using the gifts made during Wear Black, Give Back.”
Abby Heimann’s pursuit of a degree in secondary education was achievable because of a scholarship provided by the UNO Alumni Association.
Heimann grew up in the small town of Wakefield, Nebraska, and graduated from high school in a class of 40 students. When searching for the ideal college to pursue a degree in secondary education, she decided to attend the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Several facilities were recently updated, safe and secure dormitories provides a unique practicum experience.
Once committed to UNO, the only question left was one many students ask themselves: How do I pay for college? Heimann was concerned about accruing debt while gaining a degree in a field not known for its high earning potential.
Fortunately, Heimann was awarded the prestigious UNO Alumni Association Scholarship and accepted into the Teacher Scholars Academy. These substantial scholarships, paired with others, have made it possible for Heimann to attend college debt-free.
Being able to commit her time to schoolwork and practicum hours has provided Heimann with valuable college experience. Throughout her academic journey, she has accumulated 150 hours of practical experience in high school classrooms.
“To be able to be fully involved in that practicum experience was important for me, and I was able to do that because of the financial support that I received from the donors,” said Heimann.
Now a junior, Heimann credits her success in the program to the funding she received early on. Beyond financial support, members of the UNO Alumni Association have provided advice that has helped Heimann navigate her college experience.
Heimann recognizes the impact these organizations have had on her educational journey and aspires to do the same for future students.
“I hope that someday I’m in a position where I can help future students because I know the impact that it has on students like myself,” said Heimann.
Consider making a gift today to help create more scholarship opportunities, like the ones that made Heimann’s college experience possible.
The Holland Foundation has established a permanently endowed scholarship fund to forever provide financial assistance to students pursuing their education in the College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media (CFAM) at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
The Richard Holland Endowed Scholarship Fund is the largest scholarship fund ever created to support students in the College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media. The Holland Foundation made a $250,000 gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation, which was matched by other funds to establish a $500,000 scholarship fund in memory of philanthropist Dick Holland.
“We are beyond grateful for this incredibly generous gift, which will positively impact our college and community for many years to come,” said Michael Hilt, Ph.D., dean of the College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media. “When given the opportunity, CFAM students do great things. In addition to achieving their academic goals, they develop creativity, ingenuity and communication skills that will enrich their lives and put them on the path to career success.”
Dick Holland was a longtime supporter of UNO. His contributions included a leadership gift to Baxter Arena, where the Holland Ice is named in his honor, and support for a supercomputer in the Holland Computing Center. He graduated from the University of Omaha (now UNO), where he majored in art and was a columnist for The Gateway student newspaper before launching a successful career in advertising in Omaha.
“Support for public education, at all levels, is at the heart of the Holland Foundation’s mission,” said Deb Love, president of the Holland Foundation. “The Richard Holland Endowed Scholarship Fund will continue Dick Holland’s legacy of giving back to his alma mater by supporting future generations of students who major in communications, media, art or music.”
Dick Holland died in 2016 at the age of 95; his wife, Mary, died in 2006 at the age of 82. Dick and Mary Holland’s legacy of philanthropic giving is being carried on by the foundation established in their name.
The Holland Foundation gift supports Only in Nebraska: A Campaign for Our University’s Future. The campaign strives to raise $3 billion from 150,000 unique benefactors to support the University of Nebraska. More information is at OnlyinNebraska.org.
About the University of Nebraska Foundation
The University of Nebraska Foundation grows relationships and resources that enable the University of Nebraska to change lives and save lives. During the most recent fiscal year, a record 60,571 donors gave $300.6 million to the foundation to aid UNK, UNO, UNL, UNMC and its clinical partner, Nebraska Medicine, and NCTA. The foundation raises more than $7 for every $1 it spends. Only in Nebraska: A Campaign for Our University’s Future is its current campaign with a goal to raise $3 billion from 150,000 unique benefactors to support the University of Nebraska. More information is at OnlyinNebraska.org.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.
As a student in the Sign Language Interpreting program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Reagan Folda understands the importance of a clear and simple message. She wants UNO alumni to clearly understand this: Their gifts to the UNO Fund scholarship have changed her life.
“I am extremely grateful that I got this scholarship,” she said. “It brought me a lot of relief when I needed it during stressful times.”
Reagan is one of eight promising students who this fall was awarded a UNO Fund scholarship, receiving financial assistance thanks to the generosity of alumni and others who have contributed to the UNO Fund.
While UNO offers many scholarships, the UNO Fund for Student Scholarships is the only one that sees hundreds of alumni and supporters come together and make gifts — last year gifts ranged from $5 to $15,000 — to give directly back to students. Thanks to UNO Fund donors, UNO was able to offer Reagan a renewable scholarship to cover much of her tuition through her expected graduation in December 2024.
Reagan grew up in Schuyler, Nebraska, and after graduating from high school in 2019 she attended Central Community College as a student-athlete, playing soccer. However, after a year there, she felt drawn to a bigger city environment and started looking at transfer options. She transferred to Metropolitan Community College (MCC), where she majored in liberal arts.
While at MCC, Reagan took an ASL class and fell in love with the language. After a year at MCC, Reagan earned her associate degree. She then transferred to UNO to become a speech pathologist; however, she decided to change her major to become a sign language interpreter.
“I love learning about the Deaf community and American Sign Language,” Reagan said. “I think everyone should learn more about Deaf culture and ASL.”
Reagan has been impressed with the classes, people and campus at UNO, and she said she has found it a good fit for all the experiences she was hoping to receive from her college education.
“The campus is really nice,” Reagan said. “You feel very at home here, and the people are so awesome. I wanted a bigger city to live in, but it’s also just an hour from my hometown.”
Reagan also said she would enjoy working in the educational setting assisting children who are Deaf and hard of hearing. She hopes to pursue a career as an educational interpreter.
“I am considering getting my master’s in Deaf education,” Reagan added. “Right now, I am leaning toward becoming an educational interpreter, but there are many opportunities for me to think about.”
Reagan said she felt immediate relief this fall when she learned she would be receiving the UNO Fund scholarship.
“Transferring from Metro, it’s a price change, so I was nervous about that, but the scholarship really was a relief,” she said. “I was really grateful. I was nervous about taking out too much of a FAFSA loan, so I didn’t have to take out as much because I have the scholarship. And the scholarship is renewable, so that was really nice, too.”
In addition to taking classes at UNO, Reagan works as a nanny to help pay her living expenses and tuition. She said the UNO Fund scholarship has helped to ease some of those financial burdens. It also allowed her to find the right major without having to worry about adding additional semesters and incurring an even greater tuition bill.
“I get to focus more on my schoolwork,” she said. “I have a nanny job where I only work two days a week, which is nice. If I did not have this scholarship, I would probably have to find a second job, so it has been wonderful.”
In addition to expressing her gratitude, Reagan encouraged UNO alumni to consider giving back to this scholarship in an amount that makes sense to them. She said she knows firsthand that the gifts are being used to help students who want to make a positive impact in their communities.
“The people who have the UNO Fund scholarship, and anyone who graduates from UNO, they go out and do great things,” she said, “so I think it is a really good thing to donate to the UNO Fund scholarship. I know when I’m an alumnus, I’ll try to do it too for sure, because it helped me, and I want to give back, too.”
You can help bring more students like Reagan to UNO. The more people who give, the more scholarships we can award to students who need and deserve them. Make your gift of $25, $50,$100 or more to the UNO Fund today. https://unofund.org
As a full-time social worker, Matthew Beckmann works every day to assist those who most need support. In the course of working on behalf of these individuals, he also navigates a social safety-net system that is incredibly complex and has what he sees as significant flaws.
Matthew wants to change that and currently is taking the first steps to do so by pursuing his bachelor’s degree through the University of Nebraska at Omaha, with emphases in social work, business administration, and psychology.
“I feel like, as a social worker at this level, I can’t make changes.” he said, “So in a perfect world, I’ll keep on going through — I’m planning on getting my master’s degree — so hopefully I can actually make some of the changes I would like to see.”
Matthew’s ambitions are matched by his determination. Both he and his wife, a registered nurse, work full-time in North Platte, Nebraska. The couple have two sons, one 4 years old and one 5 months. To support his family as well as make a difference in his field, Matthew wanted to continue his education. But unfortunately, he found few options close to home that would let him pursue his chosen field.
Initially, Matthew looked at a nearby community college but found the experience discouraging. He decided to explore distance education options. After researching the offerings at most of the major universities in Nebraska, he decided to enroll in UNO’s online multidisciplinary studies program in the fall of 2021.
“I talked with the advisers at UNO quite a bit before I made my decision, and they definitely were amazing through the entire process and kind of told me what I could expect,” Matthew said. “Honestly, this last year and a half that I’ve completed the program with UNO, they’ve been there basically every step of the way. It has been great.”
Shortly after enrolling and starting classes at UNO, Matthew learned he would be one of the recipients of the UNO Fund scholarship, which provides financial assistance thanks to the generosity of alumni and others who donated to the UNO Fund.
While UNO has many scholarships, the UNO Fund for Student Scholarships are the only ones that see hundreds of alumni and supporters come together and make gifts — last year gifts ranged from $5 to $15,000 — to give directly back to students. Thanks to UNO Fund donors, UNO was able to offer Matthew a renewable scholarship to cover much of his tuition through his expected graduation in May 2023.
“When I received the message that I was going to get a scholarship, it definitely made my wife and me very happy,” Matthew said. “With two kids, we’re both working full-time jobs. But it’s definitely been difficult to work extra or really do anything extra because we’re so tight to the wall with our budgets right now. Getting the extra money just to be able to take a breath and actually pay off some different things because of the scholarship has definitely made a massive difference in our quality of life. I’m able to focus more on school because I’m not trying to work 40 hours a week plus more overtime so I can cover the different expenses.”
Matthew has been able to continue working and taking distance classes and is now on track to graduate with his bachelor’s degree from UNO. After that, he hopes to pursue his master’s degree in social work, which is also offered by UNO as an online program.
Matthew said the UNO Fund scholarship helped propel him toward the finish line, and he wished to express his gratitude to every donor to the fund, no matter the size of their gift.
“My wife and I are both so incredibly thankful for this opportunity,” Matthew said. “The donors that are contributing are providing an avenue for people that are not financially able to go through UNO, and I feel like the benefits that you provide are just so incredible. To be able to give that opportunity to prospective students is just an absolute gift. We couldn’t imagine trying to do it without the scholarship. We are so incredibly, incredibly grateful.”
You can help bring more students like Matthew to UNO. The more people who give, the more scholarships we can award to students who need and deserve them. Make your gift of $25, $50, $100, or more to the UNO Fund today. https://unofund.org
The Donald and Lorena Meier Foundation of Chicago is making a major gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation to create four endowed student scholarship funds and to expand and permanently endow 14 existing scholarship funds. The scholarships will benefit students across the University of Nebraska system who meet the criteria of each.
This article originally appeared on Nebraska Today.
To contribute to any of these Universities and specifically CoJMC at UNL, see the links below:
An additional gift of $755,000 from the Meier Foundation will support the construction of a new television studio and newsroom at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications. It replaces an existing studio and will include a newsroom, television control area and three separate news sets. It will incorporate cutting-edge technology that supports live broadcasts or one-person productions.
A 1941 Husker alumnus, the late Donald “Don” Meier used estate planning to direct assets from his charitable foundation to provide significant support for the University of Nebraska. During their lives, Meier and his late wife, Lorena, gave regularly to the university and established 14 student scholarship funds, the first one being created in 1999.
“The generous support from Donald and Lorena Meier — during their lives and through planned giving — will help make the university even more accessible and affordable for thousands of students,” Chancellor Ronnie Green said. “Support for a new, state-of-the-art TV studio and newsroom will also offer a truly professional experience for journalism students.
“The philanthropic mark made by Don and Lorena on our students and the entire University of Nebraska system will continue for generations.”
The Donald and Lorena Meier Foundation has committed to transfer assets to the University of Nebraska Foundation over the next several years to fulfill the Meiers’ wishes of helping young people achieve their educational goals.
“Don and Lorena Meier cared deeply about Don’s alma mater and assisting students in achieving their own career success and enjoyment,” said David Shoub, president of the Donald and Lorena Meier Foundation. “Over the next 25 years, the foundation plans to provide an estimated $10 million in support of student scholarships to fulfill the charitable wishes of Don and Lorena. We’re pleased to be carrying forth their aspirations in making a University of Nebraska education possible for more promising students for generations to come.”
Don and Lorena Meier had distinguished media careers that included the production of award-winning national network television shows, the most popular and long running being Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom” and “Zoo Parade.”
“Wild Kingdom” was an Emmy-winning wildlife documentary program starring Marlin Perkins that aired from 1963 to 1971 on NBC, after which it entered syndication. Episodes of the program air on RFD-TV, with new and updated content across many of its digital properties.
Meier also produced “Zoo Parade,” a 1950s NBC program featuring animals from the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. Prior to producing these programs, Meier served as an NBC producer for several local programs and events, including television broadcasts of Chicago Cubs and White Sox baseball games.
Don Meier’s interest in supporting student scholarships was influenced by his own experience at the University of Nebraska. During his lifetime, he considered different ways to support the university but was especially drawn to opportunities for scholarships or other projects that directly benefit students.
“I had no other dream than to go to the University of Nebraska,” he told the university in 2008 in announcing his plans for significant support of student scholarships.
Don Meier’s dream did not come easy. He worked off and on during college, sometimes taking up to a year off to work or to return home to Oshkosh, Nebraska, where he had a job as a high school librarian. He completed his college education in six years.
“I remember my own struggles to complete my college education,” he once said. “In those days, back in the 1930s, they didn’t have a lot of scholarships. I just remember how tough it was for me to make it. It became apparent to me as I pursued my own career that the main thing is not only the support, but it’s important to get kids into college, and I agree with my wife who says that all students should seek to expand their potential by seeking full development of their talent.”
Lorena Meier died June 22, 2018, at age 100, and Don Meier died July 13, 2019, at age 104.
The Donald and Lorena Meier Foundation has committed over several years to support new and existing scholarship funds that were established by Don and Lorena Meier. Students enrolled in the following colleges and areas of the University of Nebraska who meet certain scholarship criteria are eligible:
University of Nebraska–Lincoln:
University of Nebraska at Kearney:
Any University of Nebraska campus: