Positively the Heartland: Omaha nonprofit building bridges out of poverty

Posted at 7:21 AM, Sep 02, 2021

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — It was five years ago that Omaha Bridges Out of Poverty began its mission to help the Omaha and Council Bluffs community find a path over the colossal chasm of poverty.

“There’s 100,000 people in the metro and surrounding counties living in poverty, and we decided that’s just completely unacceptable," said Roger Howard. "We needed to do something about that.”

Now, 734 people have graduated from their 10-week program, investigating barriers and opportunities in their lives while learning financial planning and negotiating.

Howard says their holistic approach helps graduates place their focus on their future goals instead of the survival of the moment.

“They’re stuck in the tyranny of the moment, the need to act for the day and make sure I have food for my children and my electricity is not going to get shut off or whatever," Howard said. "It prevents them from thinking in the abstract and planning ahead.”

Omaha Bridges believes in reaching people where they are, and are currently offering eight classes: four in-person and four virtual. They also pay participants $300 while they learn.

The program has a 94% graduation rate, and graduates average an $18,000 increase in income.

Their goal is to eventually serve 2,500 people a year.

“In 10 years, we would reduce poverty by more than 50% in the metro and through increased incomes and decreased government benefits, that would have a billion-dollar a year impact on our economy,” Howard said.


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