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LIFT Together with Boys Town: Transforming South Omaha through Partnerships and Preventative Services

​When a dad approached Omaha South High Magnet School Principal Ruben Cano during parent-teacher conferences last year and asked for help because his son was failing all his classes, Cano knew what to do.

He immediately walked the parent over to a table where two Boys Town staff members were sitting.

The Boys Town staffers helped the parent sign up for in-home services, and soon the man's son was getting the help he needed to get back on track in the classroom.

It was a personal example of how LIFT Together with Boys TownSM and the partnerships it has built with Omaha South and other organizations in South Omaha is generating community-wide collaboration and making more resources available to struggling students and their families.

Taking a largely preventative approach, LIFT Together brings parents, educators, coaches, behavioral health professionals and community members together to work in concert to achieve a broader "population" change in their communities. It works closely with its partner organizations so everyone speaks the same language and has the same goals – to promote positive engagement at schools, strengthen families and change communities.

Data collected recently on Omaha South ninth-graders indicate this collaborative approach is producing significant improvements in student behavior.

The data show that from the 2017-2018 school year to the 2018-2019 school year:

  • Disciplinary referrals decreased by 32% (from 1,954 to 1,334)
  • Total suspensions/expulsions were down by 41% (from 294 to 174)
  • Moderate absences (when students miss from 10% to less than 20% of school days) decreased by 24% (from 151 to 120)

Establishing and developing effective partnerships in the community has been the key to this progress and to increasing engagement with South Omaha families. These partnerships make it possible for service providers to identify the problems individual students are facing, select resources that can best help them and then connect those students (and their families) with that assistance.

Although the partnership with Omaha South is established and strong, LIFT Together with Boys Town's focus for the current academic year is to establish stronger partnerships with other service providers and community organizations.

LIFT Together with Boys Town provides access to a number of Boys Town youth and family services, including:

  • In-Home Family Services (home-based services)
  • Care Coordination Services (home-based services)
  • Parent Education (Common Sense Parenting® classes and topic-driven workshops)
  • Administrative Intervention® (training for school administrators)
  • Safe & Healthy Secondary Schools (teacher training to improve classroom behavior)
  • Positive Alternatives to Suspension (PAS) (program for students who are suspended or at risk of suspension)

One common theme of all Boys Town's programs is the daily use of praise to recognize and increase the positive behaviors of students.

In the halls Omaha South, teachers wear bright red bracelets. One side reads "#Praise" and the other "4-to-1." The bracelets remind teachers to "raise the praise," to "catch their students being good" and to recognize their hard work and accomplishments, no matter how small.

The bracelets are a direct result of the training Omaha South teachers received from Boys Town and their everyday work with Boys Town National Education Training staff. The teachers have learned about the benefits of praise and other research-based behavior-management strategies. They've come to know and trust their partners from Boys Town. And they have taken it upon themselves to create a more supportive, motivational environment for every student.

See the dramatic improvements we have seen after one year