Nebraska Community Foundation Survey Indicates Promising Future for Rural Places

Nebraska Community Foundation (NCF,, in partnership with the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Center for Public Affairs Research (CPAR) and local school districts, surveyed 1,047 middle and high school students between January and May of 2021. Participating communities included Albion, Bassett, Bruning, Burwell, Byron, Cedar Rapids, Chester, Davenport, Deshler, Grant, Hebron, O’Neill, Sidney, St. Edward, Stuart, Taylor, and surrounding areas.

Students’ dream communities look a lot like where they live now. 64% said their ideal community is small, like their hometown—a significant increase from 47% in 2020. When asked whether a stigma accompanied staying in or returning to their community, 76% said no—up from 70% last year.

Like last year, students placed considerable importance on safety, ranking it at the top of a list of important factors when imagining their ideal community. Fortunately, more than 90% of respondents said they feel safe in their hometowns, and other answers indicate they value others’ safety as well. Almost 80% said they were likely to act to stop unfair treatment of others, and 61% said they were likely to be an advocate for embracing diversity and inclusion in their communities.

Through a growing grassroots network of volunteers who hail from every corner or the state, Nebraska Community Foundation unleashes abundant local assets, inspires charitable giving, and connects ambitious people to build stronger communities and a Greater Nebraska. For information, visit or call (402) 323-7330.