Gov. Ricketts Announces 2021 Developing Youth Talent Initiative Grant Winners

Gov. Ricketts Announces 2021 Developing Youth Talent Initiative Grant Winners

Media Contacts:  

Taylor Gage, 402-471-1970

Justin Pinkerman, 402-471-1967


Media Release:

Gov. Ricketts Announces 2021 Developing Youth Talent Initiative Grant Winners


Gov. Ricketts Announces 2021 Developing Youth Talent Initiative Grant Winners 


From left to right: Sign language interpreter Thomas Beyer, DED Director Tony Goins,

Great Plains Health CEO Mel McNea, Gov. Ricketts, and Behlen Manufacturing Chairman & CEO Phil Raimondo.


Video from today’s press conference is available by clicking here.


LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced Behlen Manufacturing Company and Great Plains Health as the recipients of the Developing Youth Talent Initiative (DYTI) grants for 2021.  Launched by the Governor in 2015, DYTI introduces middle school students to careers in industries such as manufacturing, information technology, engineering, and healthcare.  DYTI is administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED).


“DYTI grants support partnerships between the public school system and Nebraska employers to prepare our youth for the careers of tomorrow,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “By introducing middle school students to in-demand jobs early in their studies, we can start them down an educational pathway to a great-paying career here in Nebraska when they graduate.”


DYTI provides competitive grants of up to $250,000 to for-profit employers, who partner with area middle schools to design and implement innovative curriculum that inspires seventh and eighth graders to explore careers in manufacturing, information technology, health care, and other high-growth industries.  


“It’s crucial that we reach out to our students at a young age to illustrate the high-tech, rewarding careers waiting for them right in their hometown, in fields where their talents will be in-demand and well-compensated,” said DED Director Anthony L. Goins.  “DYTI allows our employers and educators to combine forces to achieve that goal in an engaging and useful way.” 


Since its inception, DYTI grants have reached up to 22,665 students across 59 Nebraska school districts.  In all, over a dozen companies and more than 60 schools have participated in DYTI since 2015.  The two companies receiving today’s awards—Great Plains Health and Behlen Manufacturing Co.—are set to impact at least 1,800 more students across two counties and seven public school districts.


With an award of $134,000, Great Plains Health, in partnership with North Platte Public Schools Foundation and District, will purchase augmented reality and virtual reality equipment to be installed in Adams Middle School classrooms and the Great Plains Health Education Center Simulation Lab.  This will enable at least 1,200 students throughout Lincoln County to experience an interactive healthcare curriculum and engage hands-on with the latest industry technology.  Additionally, the grant will help launch the first Summer Healthcare Engage Camp in North Platte in 2022, where students will participate in interactive workshops and explore areas of medicine alongside real-world doctors, nurses, and other industry professionals.     


“We appreciate the focus that Governor Ricketts and Nebraska DED have placed on developing youth talent throughout Nebraska,” said Mel McNea, Great Plains Health chief executive officer.  “As part of our strategy to close the healthcare workforce shortage in west-central Nebraska, North Platte Public Schools Foundation and District and Great Plains Health have been actively involved in finding new and innovative ways to develop a young talent pipeline interested in healthcare in Nebraska.  The DYTI grant allows us to deploy advanced technology and interactive camps to engage our young people in the healthcare profession and ultimately encourage them to stay in Nebraska as adults.”


Receiving $116,000, Behlen Manufacturing will partner with Columbus Middle School to implement the Anchoring Manufacturing, Technology and Entrepreneurship (AMTE) project to enhance students’ knowledge and interest surrounding manufacturing careers, coding, broadcasting, and entrepreneurship.  The effort will be part of a consortium with Dream It Do It and the Nebraska Advanced Manufacturing Coalition (NAMC), and will incorporate an after-school program, educator training, and interactive technology and equipment.  The program intends to impact at least 1,200 students.


“Behlen Mfg. Co. is excited to partner with Columbus Middle School and NAMC/Dream It Do It,” said Phil Raimondo, Chairman & CEO of Behlen Mfg. Co.  “The DYTI grant program is making a huge impact in Nebraska communities by providing young students with valuable experiences that could spark an interest in viable, in-demand career opportunities in manufacturing.”


To learn more about the DYTI program, visit  


Full video of today’s press briefing is available by clicking here.

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