For several decades, the NBA has directed philanthropic dollars from two different programs, the Nebraska Bankers Educational Foundation (NBEF) and the University of Nebraska NBA Fund through the NBA’s University Foundation Allocation Committee (UFAC), to support higher education in Nebraska. These investments have been made with a focus on students, programs and facilities which directly support the banking industry.
NBEF is a stand-alone 501(c)(3) organization, formed in 1990, which annually provides scholarships to Nebraska students who attend Nebraska state or private colleges. The NBEF board of directors provides policy and program direction while NBA staff manages the resources, investment, and administrative functions of the NBEF. Since 2001, several NBEF scholarships are awarded in honor of longtime NBA Legal Counsel Bill Brandt. During the 2020 school year, NBEF awarded $19,000 in scholarships to students at Chadron State College, Concordia University, Creighton University, Doane College, Midland Lutheran, Nebraska Wesleyan University and Wayne State College. Total NBEF assets sit at approximately $610,000. Unfortunately, donations to the NBEF have waned in recent years.
Each year, UFAC directs philanthropic investments to each of the four university campuses UNK, UNL, UNMC and UNO. UFAC provides financial support for student scholarships, NBA professorships and faculty fellows, equipment purchases, etc. Funds provided through UFAC also support the highly successful agricultural banking internship program with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Department of Agricultural Economics. The NBA works in partnership with the University of Nebraska systems office annually to solicit and select grant funding proposals. The NBA does not have a specific administrative or investment responsibility related to the funds held by the University of Nebraska Foundation. Banker direction about annual contributions is provided through a separate committee. Each year, UFAC commits approximately $170,000 in support of University priorities.
After analyzing how the NBA supports higher education, as well as how can the organization better refine and integrate philanthropic and workforce development strategies, the NBA board of directors and the NBEF board of directors recently approved the following recommendations and programmatic changes:
- Change the name of the NBEF to the Nebraska Bankers Association Foundation (NBA Foundation). This name change more closely aligns the Foundation with the Association’s activities and allows for better coordination and marketing.
- Expand allowable uses of the new NBA Foundation to include scholarships and higher education support, banker education, robbery reward programs, support for recovery from natural disasters, financial literacy activities, and an available option for any activities allowed by current IRS guidelines. This change evolved after looking at how the state of Nebraska and the NBA funded recovery efforts following the 2019 floods in northeast Nebraska. Existing NBEF assets will be segregated and retained for student scholarships.
- While the NBA Foundation and the UFAC will remain separate legal entities, the NBA Board has approved creation of a new NBA Scholarship Committee. This new committee will plan and oversee all NBA philanthropic, scholarship and workforce development-related investments. Better program and investment should result from this change. Members of this Committee will be appointed like other committees within the NBA’s annual structure.
- As more rural banks look for creative ways to attract the next generation of bankers, the NBA and NBEF Boards gave approval to offer NBA scholarships to community college students interested in banking/business. NBA staff will work with the Nebraska Community College Association in crafting this new initiative.
I want to thank the UFAC Committee members and the NBA and NBEF boards of directors for their encouragement and support for these program changes and new initiatives! If you are interested in supporting the NBA Foundation or the NBA Fund at the University of Nebraska Foundation, please consider making a charitable contribution.