Our presentation at Lincoln South Rotary Club on July 23, 2021 was from Jeff Yost, President and COO of Nebraska Community Foundation. His topic was titled "NCF: Dreaming Big Dreams for Nebraska Hometowns".
The Nebraska Community Foundation was established in 1993. Jeff became the first full-time employee of the organization in 1998.
The mission is "We unleash abundant local assets, inspire charitable giving, and connect ambitious people to build stronger communities and a Greater Nebraska". The organization did not want to just provide funds for projects but wanted to provide the tools for communities to grow and prosper.
Jeff pointed out that the mission is not about just fixing something, but talking about what is possible. Get a number of people involved, not only because many hands make light work, but also to ensure a diverse population is represented. As the Foundation works with the communities the goal is to form a partnership, not give them something.
One of the quotes in Jeff's presentation was "We unleash abundant local assets, inspire charitable giving, and connect ambitious people to build stronger communities and a Greater Nebraska".
Even 25 years ago as the organization was developing, there were discussions about technology and how that would change our lives in the future - the impact it would have on how we live and work.
Jeff used the term extraordinary in describing Nebraska - our communities and our people - as he went through the presentation. "Nebraska is a place of extraordinary abundance", per Yost.
He pointed out the need to constantly be aware of the language we are using as we discuss the community and the future. How does the next generation think about their self worth, their future. Understanding the self-fulfilling prophecy, it would take a change in thinking and elevation of self worth. The discussions are designed to focus on what things we do to unleash the potential of communities.
Jeff commented that few people are motivated to give when they hear about the problems. But, when they hear what is possible, they are inspired to get behind the idea. He also stated that it is not intended that philanthropy replace government support. People will engage when their gifts of talent and money are accepted and appreciated.
Over the past 5 years there have been 45,313 different individuals donate through the Nebraska Community Foundation to support their local communities. There have already been $90 million invested this year. The program uses an endowment format - the base funds are not used, only the earnings are paid out and used. 
Jeff showed us some of the statistics that they share with communities. He shared the statistic of one particular county - Keith County.
  • 8,072 population
  • 39.4% of households have a single parent (fourth highest in the state) - often a population that is underserved
  • 33% of the households bring home less than $50,000 per year
  • 2.6 is the average household size in the county
  • 1,000+ seniors
  • 19.7% increase in 30-34 year olds making Keith County their home
  • 36% are previously from the area
  • 68% hold a bachelors degree
  • 51% of households have children in the home
This data helps drive the conversations in the communities.
They also have conducted youth surveys and they found that there has been a sharp change in the past several years. Youth are not feeling the need to move out of smaller communities to get what they need. With internet access they can get what they need anywhere. Instead, you are now finding that working from home is a good option. They are feeling connected with their family and community.


Jeff Yost, President and CEO of Nebraska Community Foundation, and his talented team are unleashing abundant local assets, inspiring charitable giving, and connecting ambitious people in 260 hometowns in 82 of Nebraska’s 93 counties. Yost has dedicated the past 22 years his career to NCF’s mission and asset-based philosophies. Prior to NCF, he worked for the State of Nebraska in the governor’s office.

Yost and NCF have been featured in numerous publications including Nonprofit Quarterly, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The New York Times, and Omaha World-Herald. He pens a monthly column that is published in newspapers across the state. Yost is regularly invited to speak about Nebraska’s most inspiring and aspirational rural places and the growing grassroots network of 1,500 passionate volunteers that are working to make Greater Nebraska hometowns the greatest places on earth. NCF and its affiliated funds have now reinvested over $350 million in Nebraska hometowns. Yost is a native of Red Cloud, Nebraska and proud father of three.