Beyond School Bells

The mission of Beyond School Bells - Nebraska's Statewide Afterschool Network - is to improve access to and quality of Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELOs) by building partnerships, working toward smarter state and local policy, increasing conversations and engaging educators and parents.



  • LB519, which for the first time in NE, establishes a definition for Expanded Learning Opportunities, also establishes the framework for a state grant program and identifies a source of funding – innovation funds from our state lottery. This bill received unanimous first round approval in the legislature and faces two more votes before becoming law.  

  • Held an ELO policy summit.

  • Presented an interim study on ELOs for Ed Committee.

  • Held two legislative lunches.

  • Facilitated two proclamations and awareness days at the Capitol – one on ELOs and the other on STEM.


  •  Captured examples of Quality in an interim study (attached) Held two breakfast briefings on ELO quality.

  • Began discussions with Career Ed about collaborating on Career Education / STEM program in MS OST programs.

Other Systems-Building Work:

  • Jeff Cole and the Beyond School Bells network of ELO programs was recently selected as the first recipient of the Ron Raikes Innovation for Opportunity Award.  The award was given at a statewide ARKSARBEN recognition event at the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney.

  • Successfully launched statewide Coalition of city-wide ELO systems in 10 NE communities to create a mechanism to support community-wide ELO systems sustainability, STEM programming and outreach. This has resulted in $200,000 in mini-grants the network provides to these communities.  Three Omaha-based foundations provide the support for this work.

  • Continued to work with NET on State of Education in NE series exploring opportunities to address the achievement gap through school / community partnerships.
Current Projects and Initiatives: 

We anticipate growing opportunities to support the intersection of OST, STEM and Career and Technical education. Other priorities include:

  • Continuing to work to pass LB519.

  • Continuing to support and expand our Coalition work.

  • Building broader understanding of the importance of OST in NE.

  • Continuing discussions with HHS and Career Education / Science Ed Depts of NDE.