Our keynote speaker, Barbara Siemer, and her husband Al, serve as two of the leading philanthropists in the country. For the past decade, United Way of the Midlands has had the honor of partnering with Al and Barbara and the Siemer Institute to improve outcomes for local families who are facing the imminent risk of homelessness in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro.
United Way of the Midlands’ Progressive Families Program represents a multidimensional partnership combining the national expertise of the Siemer Institute with local case management provided by Family Housing Advisory Services (FHAS).
Since 2013, United Way of the Midlands has served approximately 430 local families thanks to the partnership with FHAS and the Siemer Institute. This partnership represents the best of what happens when effective organizations come together, and in doing so, improve lives and strengthen our community with an impact that is greater than the sum of individual efforts.
Children have always been at the center of Al and Barbara Siemer’s work. As a school teacher impacting children’s lives on a daily basis, Barbara grew keenly aware of the effect that a stable home had on her students. When families experienced homelessness or eviction, it led to what Barbara called “school instability” and negatively affected student performance in school.
It was in Sarasota in 2003 that Al and Barbara approached the United Way about developing a program to address school mobility challenges experienced by her students and other children. The United Way embraced their idea. Moreover, Barbara and Al’s gift to support the program inspired others to give and help make long-lasting changes impacting at-risk children and families. In its first year alone, 97 families averted homelessness, keeping 147 children in school, and the following year numbers doubled. Since its founding in 2011, the Siemer Institute has served 30,000 families and 60,000 children across the country by improving family financial and housing stability, while creating opportunities for families to thrive and for students to achieve academic success.