Union Pacific's Black Employee Network Helps Omaha Students Take Memorable Steps into the Future

Local high school students walks the stage at graduation | LR

Omaha North students walk across the stage at graduation.

Walking across the stage at high school graduation is an important milestone in every student’s life, but the cost of a cap and gown can prevent some students from taking these important steps.

To help students experience this once-in-a-lifetime celebration, Union Pacific’s Black Employee Network (BEN), an Employee Resource Group, held a fundraiser to support Omaha Public Schools (OPS) students who could not afford the $75 fee for their graduation materials.

During Black History Month in February, Union Pacific employees and BEN raised $33,700, to help purchase caps and gowns and support post-secondary access for OPS students. 

“Providing local high school graduates with the opportunity to participate in their graduation ceremony and supporting college access allows them to proudly celebrate their achievements.” said Clifton Ellis, general director, Marketing and Sales, and BEN president for the Omaha chapter. “It gives me so much joy and appreciation to see the generosity of Union Pacific employees and BEN members, and to know that we are contributing to the development of our future leaders and community.”

BEN held a Black History Month Luncheon during the fundraiser, and Dr. Monica Green, director of equity and diversity at Omaha Public Schools, spoke about the importance of the fundraiser, and how much it means to Omaha students.

“Seeing our students receive recognition for their success and pursuing new opportunities after graduation is incredible,” said Dr. Green. “Thanks to the help of Union Pacific and BEN, our students will have memories to cherish for a lifetime.”

BEN holds a fundraiser every year during Black History Month. This year, Union Pacific matched all employee donations of $25 or more 2:1, allowing a $25 donation to provide a cap and gown for a local graduate.

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