What’s Up ?! – March 2019

Mary, Maddy and Beja model their character concepts during the More Than Words e-book hackathon.

From the CEO

One of the best things we get to do as a part of our work here at Lead Up is to celebrate the successes of our students who are working hard to make their way in the world. It is my pleasure to highlight two recent honors earned by our student leaders.

Senior Leader Anthony has been selected to receive the Billy Michal Student Leadership Award from The National WWII Museum. The Billy Michal Student Leadership Award is given annually to one student from each state who demonstrates the American Spirit in his or her community.  Anthony will join his fellow awardees and represent Nebraska in New Orleans in May to dream and share ideas about their next community endeavors.

Senior Leader Maddy led her team to victory in the 14th Institute for the Culinary Arts High School Invitational. The team scored big with their gorgeous seared sea scallop starter, beef tenderloin with purple sweet potato mash and tournee carrots. And for the crowning finish – chocolate mousse. Maddy and her fellow chefs will head to Washington D.C. in May and try to clinch the national title.

Congratulations. We are so proud of you!

Julie Allen

Founder and CEO

Lead Up FAQ of the Month:

Does Lead Up help students pay for college?

Paying for college can be a major stressor for students and families – especially those who are experiencing the financial aid process for the first time.  Helping our leaders navigate the system, and secure the funds needed to pursue their dreams, is a big part of our program.   

While Lead Up doesn’t “write the check,” we actively work to help our leaders find, compete for and win scholarships, grants and other aid. Although there is no magic recipe, with organization and a whole lot of stick-to-itiveness, we position our leaders to cover their costs with minimal or no student loan debt.

The first step is helping to identify scholarships each student is qualified for and organizing application deadlines. Did you know Lead Up has its very own on-line scholarship search tool? We do; and it saves our students precious hours of search time with a carefully curated and annotated list of scholarships from the thousands available.

Once the targets are identified, we’re there with coaching, editing and encouragement. And of course,  we help families with the FAFSA anytime they request it.

While all of these activities are critical to putting together a great aid package, there are others that are just as crucial – but not often thought of as a traditional part of financing higher education.

The first is ensuring that students have the best credentials they are capable of. Lead Up provides tutoring throughout the school year (and summer) personalized ACT coaching and preparation, and we actively engage in helping students select the courses that they will need to qualify for admission.

The second is empowering our young people to be confident and connected. Colleges (and scholarships providers) want to invest in students who are not only competent but also curious and interesting. The networks we create and the many experiences that Lead Up provides helps students gain insight into their skills, interests, and opens up their thinking to new ideas and perspectives.

If we’ve done all of these things well, late spring brings the exciting last step: tallying up scholarship awards, evaluating and comparing school aid offers, and guiding students to the “best buy” for their future as possible.

What did you do for Spring Break?  We became authors!

It was more spring and less break as Lead Up kicked off our first ever 360 Career Capsule “More than Words” to explore careers and vocations that revolve around, or are connected to, the written word.


The capsule explores the world of books through writing, illustration, digital production, marketing, printing, literary criticism, library science and teaching and to put our Student Leaders right in the center of things, the capsule opened with an e-book hackathon.

What’s that? The idea comes from the programming world, but is simply an event where people come together to solve problems in a matter of hours or days. Our version centered on writing and illustrating interesting and inclusive picture books for young readers.

After many hours of dreaming, research, outlining and sketching, several new books are now entering the final stages of completion. Themes of imagination and finding your home wherever you are highlight the creativity and energy the first-time authors put forth as they took guidance and inspiration from their professional mentors for the week. Nicole Handerson, author, editor and owner of Handerson Publishing, Leslie Huerta, owner of Francie and Finch, Doug and Shana Durham at Don’t Panic Labs, and author Patricia Scott who shared their wisdom as well as insight into their careers.   

Activities will continue with a read-aloud at Nebraska History Museum, shadowing and volunteer work at Eiseley Library, a Read Up With Lead Up event at North Star, and lots more networking with professionals.

Watch our website or Facebook page to be among the first to download our sure-to-be bestselling authors. And, please join us in thanking Leslie, Nichole, Doug, Shana and Patricia for their gracious gift of time and expertise and for financial support from Strive to Thrive Lincoln.  

You’re coming, right?

Lead Up is turning TERRIFIC TWO next month and we’re planning some wonderful ways to celebrate all of the ways we’re making a difference for young people and our community.

Hope you’ll plan to be a part of the party!

Keep an eye on the Events tab to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

Questions or more information?  Check out our webiste @ www.leadupus.org or, email admin@leadupus.org.