The University of Nebraska Public Policy Center is celebrating 25 years in policy and research. We have collaborated with many partners to bring about real-world solutions in our communities. As a university-wide, multidisciplinary research and outreach unit, we are committed to addressing complex issues by linking academic research, stakeholder perspectives, and practical experience through innovative and creative solutions.
A primary focus is keeping students, teachers, staff, and the school communities safe by providing emergency planning and threat assessment training for schools, while promoting avenues for reporting safety concerns.
Here’s a highlight of some of the work that has resulted from these partnerships:
The Safe2Help anonymous reporting system is used by students, teachers, and others to report concerns. This project is supported by a $1.28 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The Nebraska Department of Education, Nebraska Council of School Administrators, Boys Town, and the Public Policy Center (PPC) partner on the effort to assess the effectiveness of the system and its impact on schools. Federal funding has allowed the PPC to work with partners to create a collection of eight videos for schools, students, and parents, explaining the reporting system, how it works, and when to submit a report. Learn more at ppc.unl.edu.
The Public Policy Center (PPC) is helping Nebraska schools prepare for disasters and future emergencies as part of the Department of Education (NDE) Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) project. PPC staff created a series of educational videos for school safety teams in Nebraska. These videos are posted on the Nebraska Department of Education school safety website. The PPC also develops and conducts tabletop exercises for Nebraska schools. In 2023, the PPC provided six virtual tabletop exercises to 103 school safety team members and community members including law enforcement, EMTs, and emergency managers from across the state. As part of this effort, the PPC also evaluated three EOP trainings provided by the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) to 344 school safety team members from across 230 school buildings. The PPC team continues to partner with NDE to evaluate the project, provide tabletop exercises (both virtually and in-person) for stakeholders across the state, and to create training resources, such as handouts, slide decks, and videos. Learn more at disastermh.nebraska.edu.
Dr. Mario Scalora and Dr. Denise Bulling are continuing their partnership with the Nebraska Department of Education and Educational Service Unit Coordinating Council to provide virtual K-12 school team threat assessment training to Nebraska schools. During the training, the PPC offers guidance to school threat assessment teams by providing an overview of the importance of reporting and how to address barriers to reporting, important features of the reporting process, specific issues affecting school youth, and helpful resources related to threat assessment and school safety. The aim is to help schools prepare for and respond to threats and promote the use of a reporting system to create a safer environment for students and staff. To date, they have trained with 244 public school districts and 110 non-public schools. More than 1,800 individuals have completed the training.