Dana Village

A Destination of Hope and Community for Young Adults Aging out of Foster Care

Welcome to Dana Village

Lutheran Family Services (LFS), one of Nebraska’s largest human care organizations, has launched a 10-year strategic plan for the former Dana College Campus. “Dana Village” will provide holistic support, including attainable housing, for young people aging out of the foster care system. Other populations, such as low-income elderly, will also be able to apply to live in the community.

Nebraska has never shied away from taking care of its young people, and Dana Village could very well become the new national model for what to do with a closed college campus thanks to this new concept:

1. Turn an abandoned college campus into a future of hope for young people aging out of foster care.

2. Give them what they need – job training, therapy, financial independence – to become solvent, productive citizens.

3. Create a community of support on a beloved campus – reactivating its mission: to educate, inspire, and set young people on solid footing.

It’s an innovative way to fight today’s grim statistics for young people who become homeless, pregnant, or incarcerated soon after leaving the foster care system. The Dana Village blueprint creates a life-long mentoring continuum from youth to seniors and solves issues along the social determinants of health – housing, employment, physical and mental health.

Dana Village

“We anticipate this could set standards for both foster care and campus revitalization that could be replicated nationally. We are building a model and want partners to invest alongside us.”

– Chris Tonniges
LFS President and CEO

Creating Solutions


The child welfare system is sometimes described as a “highway to homelessness.” Approximately 20% of young adults become homeless as soon as they leave foster care at age 19, and nationwide, fully half of the homeless population spent time in foster care. We can do better. Nebraska is known for ensuring its at-risk children are cared for. This is the next step to transition from the foster system to successful adulthood.


Growing companies in Blair will need over 1,000 employees in the next 2-5 years. They offer job opportunities in trades, transportation, distribution, healthcare, and telecommunications, and most importantly, are willing to train and hire young adults. They pay good starting wages, offer career pathing opportunities, and provide health benefits. These employers include national and international companies such as the Cargill Biotech Campus and Dollar General and other local and regional employers. The Apartments and Suites at Dana Village, plus future growth, will address the severe housing shortage accompanying this job development.


Imagine a destination restaurant in the old Student Center, run and staffed by our youth and Metro Community College Culinary Program graduates. The stage of the once-beautiful Lauritzen Theatre alive again with community education, outreach programs, artistic productions. A dedicated career center providing skills and job training and connecting businesses with future employees. A community sports complex designed and managed for the surrounding community to enjoy. It will be a destination location for the whole region.

Dana Village

• The name “Dana Village” is a nod to the rich history of the campus and its graduates.

• “Village” describes what it will be one day – a complete village of support, community, and hope for its young residents and the surrounding community.

 To donate to Dana Village click here

To learn more about ways to get involved, contact Ed Shada (402) 630-5664, ed.shada@oneLFS.org, or info@oneLFS.org. 

To join our Dana Village mailing list or just to ask questions, email dana@oneLFS.org.

For more information about living on campus, email tlp@oneLFS.org.