PPC Highlights of 2021

Video voiced by Matthew St. Cin.


In 2021, the Public Policy Center (PPC) impacted thousands of people spanning the entirety of Nebraska and beyond. PPC's efforts were aimed at improving community support and outreach through disaster recovery, behavioral health services, public health programs, suicide prevention, and K-12 school safety and emergency planning. Some of these milestones include the following:

As suicide rates have steadily increased, becoming one of the leading causes of death especially among youth, PPC has worked in suicide prevention and supported first responders. Last year, PPC helped train nearly 14,000 educators in suicide prevention, over 4,000 people in QPR, and produced over 6,000 resource cards supporting first responders who respond to the scenes of suicide loss and those bereaved by suicide loss. PPC is involved in the planning process of the 988 hotline for suicide prevention with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

The importance of staying safe in light of an emergency is paramount whether the emergency is a fire, natural disaster, a threat, or medical-related. In 2021, PPC's work impacted 980 school safety team members from 230 school buildings across Nebraska through trainings and online resources on Emergency Operations Plans and Psychological First Aid with the Nebraska Department of Education. In addition, our work in threat assessment has trained 244 public school districts to date, 123 police departments, and more than 244 fire and rescue personnel. 

Last year, PPC researchers partnered with Emergency Management and the Athletics Department to ensure that the University has effective Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA), particularly in relation to game day events. In order to facilitate community-based reporting and prevent major acts of violence, PPC began collaborating with the Department of Homeland Security on a project focused at identifying factors that prevent reporting to hotlines and other entities. 

As Nebraskan's health and behavioral health continued to be impacted by multiple factors, the PPC continued work on the Nebraska Strong Recovery Project to provide people with crisis counseling services and other resources. Outreach for this project included 238 TV spots, 160 radio spots, new outreach materials, and print and digital ads in newspapers around Nebraska. A Nebraska Connects program was produced by Nebraska Public media that focused on emotional and psychological well-being.

Since September of 2020, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Division of Behavioral Health and the PPC have partnered to offer more than a dozen virtual behavioral health trainings. This collaboration has connected mental health professionals and practitioners with quality trainings and covers specific areas related to behavioral health, ranging from peer support within behavioral health to trauma-informed care for behavioral healthcare professionals. Each online training event averaged over 100 attendees.

PPC researchers are assisting in programs aimed at expanding, enhancing, and increasing accessibility of behavioral health services with Lutheran Family Services and Nebraska's Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education, and HIV/AIDS services with Nebraska DHHS Ryan White Part B Program. In addition, the PPC partnered with Nebraska DHHS on the SAMHSA Nebraska Disaster Recovery Adults Project, which was awarded in April of 2020 to Region V Systems. The project, which serves adults in 23 Nebraska counties, has made a total of 9,100 crisis counseling contacts and distributed a total of 66,192 project materials as of June 30, 2021.

In order to promote civic and community engagement, the PPC worked with courts, local governments, and local entities throughout the year. A collaborative program of Prosper Lincoln looked at community needs and how to address these by drawing on data from PPC's Lincoln Vital Signs report in partnership with the Lincoln Community Foundation.

The PPC's work with the National Center for State Courts on the “Community Engagement in the State Courts Initiative” project aimed at improving trust between courts and minority or low-income communities and making progress on eliminating a disparity in the courts.

In 2021, PPC formed a a three-year cooperative agreement with the U.S. Army Research Institute (ARI) to identify factors impacting the development of leadership identity in enlisted Army personnel.