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The Revive Center is Now Open for Lunch: Tues-Sat.

Community Features

New cohorts prepare to launch…Leadership, Fund Development, Wealth Building & Career Advancement

OMAHA, Neb.

Great News!  After announcing four cohorts late last year, the Empowerment Network decided to delay the launch of the initiatives as they ran into the holiday season, received formal notice of their award of $10 million through the North and South Omaha Recovery Plan and continued the national collaboration with their partner cities introduced at last year’s African-American Leadership Summit.

The Network is now prepared to move forward with the four capacity-building cohort opportunities and their national strategic partners and advisors will be in Omaha for the Rebuilding the Village Conference.

Keys to Fund Development to Make Your Vision a Reality & Intro to Cohort

Anna Barber, fundraising expert that has helped to raise hundreds of millions of dollars including for the Smithsonian’s National Black History Museum in Washington D.C., will lead a six-month cohort on Fund Development:  building a donor base to make your vision a reality.

Barber will share insights gained through her work with major universities, the Museum, Obama Foundation and other national clients.  Participants will develop a comprehensive step by step plan to build and maintain a strong, diversified donor base.  In this session, Barber will provide an overview of key elements to fundraising success and share an overview of the upcoming fund development cohort.

 

Collaborative, Transformation Leadership and Powerful Storytelling & Intro to Cohort

Suzan Hart, one of world’s top storytellers and presenters, will launch a Collaborative Leadership and Storytelling cohort:  Maximize Opportunities with the Power of Your Story.

Participants will learn more about the transformational power of collaboration and enhance their presentation skills by defining purpose, understanding their value, and releasing the power of their story.  In this session, Hart will share key concepts to help you develop a mindset to maximize your leadership opportunities and provide an overview of the new cohort.

 

Advancing Your Career with Key Principles from Redefine the Game & Intro to Cohort

Dr. Jefferey Robinson of BCT Partners will return to Omaha to help launch the 5th Cohort of the Redefine the Game Institute, an innovative career advancement and leadership development program. Over 150 have participated with most receiving promotions and increased compensation, expanded career opportunities or leadership positions within new organizations.

In this session, Dr. Robinson will guide you towards growing and making the most of your network and provide an overview of the next RTG cohort. You will also hear from RTG Alumni regarding their own path career paths and stepping into impactful leadership roles.

 

Understanding Your Wealth Building Code and Developing Your Plan & Intro to Cohort

Dr. Pamela Jolly a nationally recognized wealth-building strategist returns to launch the third cohort of the Legacy Wealth Initiative.  Graduates of Legacy Wealth have developed wealth plans, saved thousands of dollars, become homeowners, launched and purchased businesses, invested individually and collectively and made contributions to their community.  Dr. Jolly will review the key elements to develop and implement your own wealth building plan and provide an overview of the upcoming Legacy Wealth Cohort.

Register for the 17th Annual Rebuilding the Village Conference and come join us for the introduction of the new cohorts.  Learn More and Register here

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Community Features

Dream Big! Eric Thomas coming to Omaha June 7th

OMAHA, Neb. –  On June 7, the Empowerment Network will take over CHI Health Center Omaha & Hilton Omaha Downtown for the 17th Annual Rebuilding the Village Conference and Luncheon. This year’s event also features the highly anticipated Revive Omaha Black Business Expo, highlighting the importance of supporting and empowering black-owned businesses in the community. The conference kicks off at 8:00 am.

Big Dreams and Collective Visions!  The luncheon will feature an energizing session from keynote speaker from New York Times best-selling author, educator, motivational guru and international business phenomenon, Eric Thomas, Ph.D.

As an inspirational speaker, Thomas has made a successful career working with and coaching Fortune 500 companies, top athletes, students and audiences around the world. A visionary, Thomas helps others walk in their purpose. Through a thorough examination and application of these same principles, his conference attendees continue to maximize their successes both in the workplace and at home. As a husband, father and philanthropist, Thomas aims to improve the lives of others through self-empowerment, self-assessment and consistent execution.

The Rebuilding the Village Conference and Luncheon has long been recognized as a premier gathering for community leaders, activists, entrepreneurs and stakeholders to come together to address key issues facing underserved communities. With a focus on career advancement, leadership development, DEI, wealth building, entrepreneurship, community building and more, the conference aims to foster collaboration and drive positive change in Omaha and beyond.

“The Rebuild the Village Conference and Revive Omaha Black Business Expo continues to evolve,” said Willie Barney, CEO and founder of the Empowerment Network. “Through this year’s event, we are focusing on the best ways to build economic strength and equity, support business owners, encourage homeownership, and invest in economic development and revitalization. Our community wants to be a part of the development of our city. Our Conference and Black Business Expo will equip attendees with the tools needed to thrive.”

Dream Big video from Eric Thomas

Central to this year’s event is the Revive Omaha Black Business Expo, a dynamic showcase of black-owned businesses from across the region. Attendees will have the chance to network with entrepreneurs, learn about innovative products and services, and support the local economy.

Backed by the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, the Empowerment Network works to build a safer environment for all residents by increasing educational and career success and reducing violent crime. The My Brother’s Keeper Alliance leads a cross-sector national call-to-action focused on building safe and supportive communities for boys and young men of color where they feel valued and have clear pathways to opportunity.

In 2023, the Rebuild the Village Conference attracted more than 1,100 attendees. Of those attendees, nearly 40 percent were students. With the help of last year’s keynote speaker, businessman, NBA legend and philanthropist Erving “Magic” Johnson, Rebuild the Village was able to raise $90,000 during an unexpected auction at the end of Johnson’s speech. Last year’s event also drew in leaders from across the nation, including key cities like Atlanta, Ga., Chicago, Ill., Denver, Co., Kansas City,  Mo., New Orleans, La. and Tulsa, Okla.

In addition to the Black Business Expo, the conference will feature keynote speeches, panel discussions, workshops, and interactive sessions led by industry experts and community leaders. To learn more about the event, including ticket prices and sponsorship opportunities, please visit https://www.rtvomaha.com/. Registration closes Monday, June 3.

 

About the Empowerment Network

The Empowerment Network is a nonprofit organization committed to advancing economic, social and civic progress within Omaha’s African American community, North Omaha and the region. Through collaborative efforts and innovative initiatives, the Empowerment Network strives to create opportunities for empowerment and transformation in every zip code and neighborhood in the City of Omaha and other national communities.

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Community News

“One of the largest and best ever” 13th Annual Christmas in the Village 24th & Lake

Over 7,000 attend the annual community celebration and holiday tradition in North Omaha

The Empowerment Network’s 13th Annual Christmas in the Village at 24th and Lake was one of the largest and best ever according to both the visitors and hosts.

Watch the Highlight Video from the 13th Annual Christmas in the Village at 24th and Lake Here

“Christmas in the Village just keeps getting bigger and better every year,” said an attendee that has made the event a holiday tradition for their family.

The event is hosted annually by the Empowerment Network and Omaha Economic Development Corporation and dozens of organizations and businesses to officially kick off the Christmas season.  Major sponsors include:  American National Bank, Douglas County Visitor Improvement Fund, Nebraska Arts Council, KETV, Revive Omaha and Veridian Credit Union.

It has become the largest holiday event in North Omaha but attracts visitors from throughout the region.  Guests have come from as far away as Minneapolis, Des Moines, Kansas City and St. Louis to participate in the event.

“It was such a blessing to see so many come down to 24th and Lake…the vision has become reality,” said Vicki-Quaites-Ferris, VP of Community Development for the Empowerment Network and event director.  “All of the partners had great activities and the families enjoyed all of them.”

The atmosphere is full of joy, excitement, smiles, hugs and laughter.  Children visited Santa, Mrs. Claus, live animals including a camel and donkey and even take pictures with the Grinch.

“The children and families loved the Grinch,” said Imani Murray, owner of Ital Vital Living.  “And, we sold out of special holiday smoothies and other items right at the end of the day.  It was amazing.”

There were also opportunities to make Raku pottery, create crafts and play games with prizes.

Families enjoyed free carriage rides down 24th Street, visited with Cartoon characters and received free family photos, hot cocoa, apple cider, cookies and popcorn.

For those looking to purchase holiday gifts and support local businesses, a stop at the Empowerment Network’s Holiday BoutiQue, Omaha Star’s store, Unionmade Artist Market, NOMA’s holiday market or any of the local businesses including the Styles of Evolution, Revive Center, Doll House Fashions, Carver Legacy Center and Fair Deal Village were all available.

Small Black businesses and vendors were excited about the event.  “Many of them reported generating thousands of dollars in sales in just five hours and some sold completely out of merchandise,” said Aisha Conner, Village Community Manager for the Empowerment Network and host for the Holiday BoutiQue.  “The entrepreneurs said the crowds were large and attendees were very supportive of them.”

Attendees could visit the Community Partners Fair tent in the parking lot of OEDC.

Northend Teleservices presented Santas Sweet Shop and gave out Stocking Stuffers.  The entry of the tent was elegantly decorated in a festive way.

Face painting and health assessments were available at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church and the Washington Branch Library presented their Mobile Free Book Giveaway.

One of the main attractions is the holiday concert in Dreamland Park where some of Omaha’s top gospel and jazz artists present Christmas music and local children’s groups and choirs provide entertainment.

A consistent and popular participant is the Pear Tree Performing Arts group that always has a special performance just for Christmas in the Village and the park was packed.

New this year was the Guiding Light Foundation, I Heart Dance teams and Central Step Team.  Zions Children Choir also returned singing Christmas songs.

The Great Plains Black History Museum was able to serve 850 visitors featuring a balloon artists and a national exhibit from the Smithsonian Institute.

It was a festive celebration in the historic heart of North Omaha.  A great way to kick off the holiday season, celebrate community, support small businesses, and continue the reemergence of the arts, culture, entertainment and business district at 24th and Lake.

___________________________

Message from Willie Barney, CEO and Founder of the Empowerment Network

There’s nothing quite like it!  The spirit of Christmas in the Village at 24th and Lake is absolutely energizing and refreshing and just plain old fun!  So much positivity with thousands of people coming together to celebrate the season.  Hugs, smiles and laughter everywhere.

It was inspired by my own memories of celebrating Christmas with my family in Mississippi.  We would travel from 438 to Greenville to the old downtown area with my grandmother, mother, uncles, aunts and cousins.  Some of the greatest memories of my life.  Yolanda and I had also attended highly successful holiday events in Davenport, Chicago and Orlando.  We wanted to bring something like that to North Omaha.

Thank you Vicki Quaites-Ferris, Stacy Henry, Michael Maroney, Deb Bunting and Yolanda Barney for stepping out in faith with me that first year with only weeks to plan the first Christmas in the Village!

We wanted to bring people back to 24th and Lake and use what we had to create an experience where the community could see what was possible.  13 years later over 100 small businesses, organizations, ministries, artists and musicians come together to make it happen.  New businesses and developments are coming to the district bringing jobs, housing, services, cultural venues and economic activity.

I want to thank Vicki Quaites-Ferris, VP of Community Development and Event Director and the amazing Empowerment Network team, Aisha Conner, Billana Mekoum, Jonathan Chapman, Ricky Smith, Nadia Spurlock and Sharlon Rodgers and our Step-Up year round coaches.  What a year!!!

Thank you Yolanda and all of the 24th and Lake partners.  Thank you volunteers, sponsors, singers, entrepreneurs, dancers, musicians, site hosts, vendors, media and most importantly all of our guests!

There’s no limit to what is possible when we come together.  Thank God for the blessing of a beautiful day in the Village!  We choose to build together.

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