EDGE Nebraska City marks fifth year

Julie Davis
Nebraska City News-Press

This year, EDGE Nebraska City is celebrating its fifth anniversary, and its founder, Stacie Higgins, provided the Nebraska City Rotary Club with an update on how the organization is using literacy as a poverty-fighting tool in the community.

“Literacy gives people the ability to navigate the world with dignity,” said Higgins.

The organization takes its name from a screen saver Higgins’ late husband, Dion, had on his phone, which read, “Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.” The acronym stands for Engage, Discover, Grow, Embark.

EDGE Nebraska City has set a goal of reducing poverty rates in Nebraska City by 2036. The group has been using outreach, literacy, a progression of educational programs, relationship building, and organizational sustainability to achieve its goals.

EDGE Nebraska City programs to combat illiteracy include Early EDGE for infants and toddlers, Kindergarten Ready Bags for preschool graduates, and Reader’s EDGE programs that provide monthly guest readers at Northside and Lourdes Central Catholic preschool through second grade classes.

Each student receives a copy of the book that he or she hears being read to build an at-home library. By the end of second grade, each student has 28 books in that library, said Higgins

She added that children learn to read from birth to third grade, and from third grade on, they read to learn.

Third-grade students at Hayward take part in Citizen’s EDGE programs, in which community volunteers visit quarterly to help connect students to their community to prevent disenfranchisement, said Higgins.

A new program called Leader’s EDGE is under development, according to the EDGE Nebraska City website, and Higgins said future plans call for the development of a Graduate’s EDGE program, as well.

Other future plans involve continuing to develop family involvement in the schools, and a program that will provide third- through fifth-grade students the opportunity to select books for their personal libraries from a selection provided by EDGE Nebraska City.

EDGE Nebraska City also offers community education opportunities such as a screening of “Standing Up to Poverty” and “A Framework for Understanding Poverty” and a Poverty Simulation Experience presentations.

The Nebraska City Rotary Club meets at noon Wednesday at Valentino’s, 1710 S. 11th. Guests pay $9 for lunch.

Cole Sharp is the club president. Call (402) 873-0530 for more information.

Reader’s EDGE provides monthly volunteer readers to preschool through second grade classrooms. Students receive copies of the selected book at the end of the Book Bestie reader’s visit.

Citizen’s EDGE gives third-grade students an opportunity to connect with community members. Here, Nebraska City Police Chief David Lacy reads a story about Harriet Tubman to the students.

Reader’s EDGE programs  provide monthly guest readers at Northside and Lourdes Central Catholic preschool through second grade classes.