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Support for Young People

Education and Career Pathways

Getting help to access any of these services is easy! Contact your local Central Navigator

Nebraska's Connected Youth Initiative offers different programs, services, and scholarships to help young people pursue their own postsecondary education and/or career pathways, pursue their goals, and achieve their dreams.


Education and Training Voucher (ETV)

Interested in going to college, but not sure how to pay for it? 

There is help available!

Whatever path you choose for continuing post-high school education—on-the-job training, community college or university, or securing a specialized certificate - there are lots of new opportunities to discover and interests to explore! Expand your knowledge, take on new challenges, and experience the pride of achievement.

Nebraska’s Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program provides financial assistance for tuition, fees, and books, as well as one-on-one support, for current and former state wards to attend college. The Nebraska ETV program provides students up to $1,800 per year for tuition, fees, and books and each ETV recipient also receives support from a CYI Coach and academic support throughout college. Youth participating in the ETV Program are eligible until they turn 26 years old (but may receive no more than 5 years of ETV assistance). 

Am I eligible? Yes…if you have graduated from high school or obtained a GED and meet one of the following criteria: 

  • State or Tribal ward who are age 17 or older 
  • Were in the State or Tribe’s custody and received guardianship or adopted status at the age of 16 or older and have yet to reach age 26. 
  • Were in the State or Tribe’s custody on your 17th birthday and are now between the ages of 17 and 26. 
  • Plan to or are attending public or private four-year colleges or universities, two-year community colleges, vocational-technical schools or specialized non-profit trade schools as defined in the Higher Education Act of 1965.

Complete the ETV application here

Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential (LEAP)

Not sure how to navigate the college application process? Want someone by your side to tour campus and complete your application? 

Connected Youth Initiative is committed to creating pathways and ensuring access to education and career training post-high school (or GED) by partnering with young people to Learn and Earn to Achieve their Potential and LEAPing into careers!

A CYI Coach can help you prepare for college or post-high school career training and help you navigate the process every step of the way. Your Coach will help you connect to on-campus supports and even provide support and advice for connecting with your instructors to be sure you have all the support you need to be successful in classes. You will also connect with other students on campus with similar life experiences and career goals.

You can access a CYI Coach through your local Central Navigator and will receive support in navigating the process of pursuing postsecondary education or a career path and your Coach's support can continue until you graduate, earn a certificate, reach your goals and beyond!  

Check out these uplifting stories of hope with CYI LEAP Leaders! 

Positive Change: CARES Act & LEAP Leaders

Strong, Strong...Nebraska Strong: LEAP Fellows

Graduation Moments: Meet Joenasi and Sebastian

An Unexpected Leader: Meet Erik

Someone Believed in Me: Meet Alex

What Happens When You Age Out of Care? Graduate, That's What!: Meet Elane


Did you know there are lots of scholarships available to help you pay for college?

You don't have to navigate this process alone! Your CYI Coach can help you seek out scholarships and apply.

  • Susan Thompson Buffet Foundation Scholarship: The Susan T. Buffett Foundation offers scholarships to college students in Nebraska on a competitive basis to first-time freshman entering college who live in Nebraska, graduate from a Nebraska high school (or GED) with plans to attend a Nebraska public college and demonstrate financial need.
  • EducationQuest Foundation: Free database of 2,000+ Nebraska-based scholarships.
  • College Scholarships for Foster Children: National and state-specific scholarships available to current and former foster youth. Additional categories of student-specific scholarships include adult learners, first generation college students, and low-income students. 
  • If you are college-bound in the state of Nebraska, there is money available to you at no cost for your undergraduate or graduate education. Each year, every state government, including that of Nebraska, sets aside a large portion of money specifically for college students.
  • Peter Kiewit Foundation Engineering Academy: This scholarship program is for (up to 40) incoming freshman students with financial need who want to pursue careers in engineering, computing, or construction at UNO or UNL, and are committed to the advancement of women in engineering in the state of Nebraska. The program includes a renewable full-ride scholarship (tuition and fees), room and board, equipment (laptop with software), program expenses, and a fully staffed learning community environment with exclusive seminar courses, success coaching, industry professional mentors, service and outreach projects, and support of a faculty fellows network. Student application opens November 1st and the deadline to apply is February 1st. Applicants will need to apply and be accepted to the College of Engineering prior to applying for this scholarship.

Other Funding for College

  • Federal Student Aid - FAFSA Dependency Status: This website helps financial aid professionals, students, and those helping students complete the FAFSA determine whether they are considered an independent or dependent applicant. The website also answers questions about what students should report on the FAFSA.
    • Young people in Nebraska can request a letter from DHHS that indicates your dependency status if you were in foster care at age 13 or older by:
      • Sending a request to with the subject line “Former Ward Verification Letter" or call (402) 471-9272 to make this request.
      • Be sure to include your full name and date of birth on your request.
  • Pell Grant: Federal needs-based education grant, prorated based on the number of hours being taken. 
  • Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant: Federally funded needs-based grant, issued on a first-come first-served basis.  
  • Nebraska State Grant: This is a state funded needs-based grant accessible via a completed FAFSA.
  • Nebraska Promise: The Nebraska Promise program covers undergraduate tuition at the University of Nebraska's four campuses (UNK, UNL, UNMC and UNO) and its two-year technical college (NCTA). Tuition is covered for students who meet academic qualifications and have a family income of $60,000 or less (Adjusted Gross Income/AGI) or are Pell Grant-eligible. For most youth that were in foster care after age 16, this qualifies them. 

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

WIOA can help you access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in your career!

Here is an example of how the WIOA program can help you: 

  • Tutoring, study skills training, instruction 
  • Paid and unpaid work experiences 
  • Education services  
  • Leadership development 
  • Comprehensive guidance and counseling 
  • Financial literacy education 
  • Entrepreneurial skills training 
  • Exploration of postsecondary education options 
  • SAT/ACT preparation and testing 
  • Assistance with college admission applications, searching and applying for scholarships and grants, and filling out FAFSA and other financial aid applications 

WIOA services are available via a one-stop center near you and available statewide. 

Contact your local Central Navigator or CYI Coach to get connected or visit a one-stop center directly: 

Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) Nebraska

JAG Nebraska provides in-school support for middle and high school students by helping them develop their skillsets and overcome hurdles, setting you up for success in the classroom and the workplace. 

JAG is available at 10 schools across Nebraska. Find out if this is available in your area here.

Bike Union

The Bike Union provides workforce and personal development to youth aging out of foster care in Omaha. 

Find The Why!

Find the Why! is a unique competition-based online platform that helps youth and young adults connect skills, talent and purpose while solving real-world problems with an opportunity to win prize money, scholarships, paid internships, and more!

Young people put together their own team or are placed into teams to compete in challenges to solve real-world problems in real-time for real businesses (for real).Teams brainstorm, explore and develop a solution to earn points, cash prizes, scholarships and even internships.

New challenges start regularly, so check it out!