A $183,000 Nelnet Foundation contribution is helping the Malone Center address a new era of needs.

As part of Nelnet’s Service, Not Silence fundraiser, the Nelnet Foundation recently made a significant contribution of $183,000 to the Malone Center – an organization that has been committed to promoting equality and eliminating multi-generational poverty in Lincoln, Neb. since 1955.

Launched last year, the Service, Not Silence campaign aimed to deepen our support of organizations advancing racial and socioeconomic equality through donated money and volunteer hours. For every dollar an associate donated, the Nelnet Foundation delivered a 3-to-1 match. Volunteer hours were given a financial value and matched the same way.

The Service, Not Silence fundraising campaign raised over $1 million for organizations that serve Nelnet communities nationwide.

This is a cause that a lot of our associates are very passionate about. Stepping up and making an impact here is what the Nelnet Foundation was designed to do.

Ben Kiser

President, Nelnet Foundation

A New Heartbeat for Struggling Communities

Founded in 1955, the Malone Center has been focused on creating equality, unity, and prosperity throughout Lincoln for over 65 years. Although rooted in a deep history, the organization is constantly interacting with the local community and gathering input about new needs and priorities.

According to Executive Director John Goodwin, “We always want to have a heartbeat in the communities we serve. That means listening – not just talking, but listening to what the needs are and then developing programs around that.”

We always want to have a heartbeat in the communities we serve.

John Goodwin

Executive Director, Malone Center

In recent years, that’s led to a swift, community-focused response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as added programming aimed at building trust and understanding between minority communities and the Lincoln Police Department.

Investing in Kids During COVID

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Malone Center was able to stay open and provide support for low-income students. Beyond general assistance to sustain the educational progress of students, the Malone Center was able to create partnerships that helped ambitious students climb to the next level. These partnerships include Beyond School Bells, Think Make Create (TMC) Labs, The Career Academy, and Million-Girl Moonshot.

“With help from Nelnet and ALLO, we were able to stay open and bring those students in, because our students don’t have internet access at home,” said Goodwin. “We always want to invest in our kids, because we know if we can create different experiences for our kids, we know we can have more successful outcomes for the future.”

Additionally, a new outdoor classroom and garden – plus clubs for fitness, gardening, cooking, choir, and art – ensure every student has a path forward. Organized sports teams in football, basketball, and track give kids a healthy way to compete at a high level.

…if we can create different experiences for our kids, we know we can have more successful outcomes in the future.

John Goodwin

Executive Director, Malone Center

A New Conversation About Policing

After a summer of social unrest, the Malone Center initiated a series of programs and events to build stronger relationships between diverse neighborhoods and the Lincoln Police Department. Malone was the only cultural center to build such a partnership.

These efforts included regular meetings between police officers and the community, where citizens could share their thoughts and concerns about law enforcement in their area. Joint community-service projects helped to strengthen relationships even more. These interactions led to several positive policy changes in the city of Lincoln.

Change didn’t just happen by marching and meeting as a group. We got to work, and were able to help change some policies.

John Goodwin

Executive Director, Malone Center

Putting Health Care in Reach

Beyond programs supporting education for low-income students and social justice for citizens in diverse neighborhoods, the Malone Center offers an array of programs focused on the health of their community members.

That includes a Maternal Wellness Program that promotes maternity care and breastfeeding to give every baby a strong start, as well as programs focused on diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure to help community members live long, healthy lives. Last year, Malone added a licensed mental health therapist to their service offerings, adding a new dimension to their health care programs.

The Big Picture

For all Malone Center programs, the ultimate goal remains the same – work hard for equality and take generational poverty off the map in Lincoln.

We’re trying to fix the purple color that we see on economic-equality maps. That’s an indication of poverty in our city. We want to change that, and the only way we can change that is from the inside out – not the outside in. My goal is to show that the Malone Center is bringing new leaders into our community to make that happen, because that’s our future.

John Goodwin

Executive Director, Malone Center


Jeff Deans

Copy Director

Jeff Deans is a Copy Director. With decades of creative experience behind his work, he concepts ideas and crafts language for a wide range of projects and businesses across Nelnet. Away from the keyboard, Jeff turns his creative focus to smoking meats, obsessing over fantasy football, and getting lost in TikTok.