What’s Up?! – November 2018

The Beatles may be right.

At this time of year, we often reflect on the friendships that make our lives a little easier, happier and more meaningful. Not so much mulling the science – but isn’t it good to know that laughter and support also extends life expectancy, preserves mental acuity and lowers the chance of heart disease?  Yet, it doesn’t take a scientific study to know that in good times or bad, friends get us through.

As the year comes to a close and we reflect on all Lead Up has accomplished, the Fab Four’s words ring true. We have gotten by “with a little help from our friends.”

The friendship of our volunteers, event sponsors, program partners, donors and others has helped Lead Up bring out the best in Lincoln’s young people who are energetically pursuing their passions; of becoming craftsmen, entrepreneurs, teachers, doctors, or starting a family business.

There is still much to accomplish before 2018 comes to a close, and many opportunities remain to make a difference in the lives of talented students who just need a few friends to help reach for their dreams.

Be an event volunteer, a tutor, or come out and network with us. Join one of our career advisory teams and help us bring great career-prep programming to life. Most importantly though, I hope you’ll  consider a tax-deductible, year-end gift to Lead Up. Every contribution makes a difference to a motivated young person working to achieve their potential.

Yes, the Beatles said it best: “We’ll get by with a little help from our friends.”

Julie Allen

Founder and CEO

The 2018 Leadership Summit is in the books!


Making History was the theme for Lead Up’s annual leadership summit, held November 15th, at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Nearly 50 students came together to talk about the causes they care about while learning more about using their talents to bring about change for good within their community.

Senator Adam Morfeld delivered  the keynote address and the participants were off and running. From identifying challenges and issues to visualizing the change they wanted to bring about, it was a day filled with planning, collaborating and most importantly, envisioning a peaceful and prosperous world.

Kicking off the afternoon session, a panel of Nebraska Wesleyan University student leaders shared their experiences of service and leadership and how “making history” has been a part of their college experience. The panel, moderated by Shelby Janke, Development and Outreach Manager at Nebraska League of Conservation Voters, provided invaluable guidance about balancing school, work and involvement as well as the career and academic benefits of getting engaged in issues that matter.

The event concluded on an exceptionally high note with participants presenting their ideas and action plans for  being a part of history through their own change initiatives, engaging with experienced leaders in the community and how they will develop themselves as leaders and citizens.

We are inspired and looking forward to helping these young leaders realize their vision!

Exceptional opportunities for students such as the Leadership Summit don’t happen without the support of a great team. Lead Up is grateful for the partnership of our host, Nebraska Wesleyan University, North Star High School and the corporate sponsorship of Ameritas.

A good friend knows all your stories.


A best friend helps you write them.

We do many things to help students prepare for success but the bedrock of the Lead Up program is learning to connect; finding people who share your desire to be more. So much of our program is focused on building those networks of friends, mentors and colleagues. The ones who “stick,” and travel alongside to help you be your best.

Aubrey Shumake and Natasha Naseem are role models for leveraging connections.  What started as a chance pairing as high school driver’s ed partners has become a shared journey of finding what each loves, and how to build a life story of doing it.

Fortunately for Lead Up, their search has crossed paths with ours.  More on that later.

Fast forward to college; both Aubrey and Natasha attended UNL where they gravitated to the English department – a place with unlimited stories to study and many more to be written. Both credit the work of dissecting all those stories with learning how to think in different ways, seeing multiple perspectives beyond one’s own, and reserving assumption and judgment in favor of seeking common understanding.

And somewhere in the middle of all those tomes, the two friends found their passion; helping others write their stories – especially those that are not yet told.

Natasha is the community organizer for Collective Impact Lincoln at Nebraska Appleseed. As such, she spends her days listening, advocating and organizing Lincoln neighbors seeking to change the stories of their neighborhoods.  Aubrey is a Lead Up Program Specialist who also listens, advocates and organizes but focuses on young adults seeking the skills, information and insight to write their first chapter of college and career.

Together, Natasha and Aubrey have collaborated to share the resources and knowledge of their respective positions, and working together have opened opportunities and experiences for Lead Up students and the program.  

Like any good story, this one will have many chapters. Natasha is interested in pursuing law school and using her J.D. to positively impact immigration. After hours of refining the art of helping our students become great learners, Aubrey is thinking of college teaching.

No matter where the tale winds, these friends agree, “You need to be with people who get you.”


The fall has been a whirlwind of program activity and fundraising events and there are so many businesses and corporate partners to thank for our successful season. But before we cue the applause….a few words about how much your investment matters.

SAT coaching, college visits, after-school tutoring, career exploration opportunities and leadership development are just a few of the activities your contribution supports.

An ACT score jump of 5 points (and into scholarship territory) a 4.0 gpa, an acceptance letter to Wesleyan, a nomination for a national internship – those are the life-changing events you made possible.

For bringing out the best, thank you. And, now for the cheers!