Start Early. Start well.

February 12, 2024

Sharing What We Know About Early Childhood: Institute's Communications Work Is Honored

By Greta Morris 

2023 marked a historic year for the Buffett Early Childhood Institute, which celebrated its 10th anniversary, welcomed a new executive director, published groundbreaking research, and hosted statewide conferences. The past year was also award-winning, as the Buffett Institute received four awards from the Nebraska chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and four Pinnacle Awards from the Omaha chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA).  

The PRSA Nebraska’s Paper Anvil Awards program is an annual competition that recognizes programs and projects demonstrating excellence in the public relations profession. The awards given to the Institute recognize just some of the work undertaken to promote its mission to transform the lives of young children by improving their learning and development. Public outreach and communications are critical to the Institute’s work, allowing us to share what we learn about early childhood development and education with colleagues and partners across the state and nation.  

The Institute’s PRSA awards include:  

  • In the Integrated Communications Category, an Award of Excellence for our Professional Development (PD) for All series. PD for All offers free professional development opportunities to early childhood professionals who serve young children, birth through Grade 3.
In response to the asks of early childhood educators, the theme of the 2022–23 PD for All series was “Building and Sustaining Powerful Partnerships With Families.” The Buffett Institute reinvented the format to focus on digital and "bite-sized learning." This new approach allowed for more flexibility and self-directed learning for busy educators. Instead of daylong, in-person gatherings, activities include videos, interactive Twitter chats, and infographics. These resources were easily accessible, available on demand, and allowed participants to come together and learn from one another.  

Four PD for All videos garnered more than 1,200 views, and several dozen educators participated in a series of Twitter chats.   
  • An Award of Merit in the Annual Report category for Start Early. Start Well: 10 Year Report, 2013.
The report represents the collective effort of the Buffett Institute over its first 10 years and was carefully curated by every member of the Institute’s team and its many partners. The report recounts the Institute’s successes, opportunities, and challenges, as well as the programs, events, partnerships, and initiatives that the Institute has undertaken to support quality and affordable early childhood education for all Nebraska families.  
  • An Award of Merit in the Blogs category for the Early Years Matter blog. 
Early Years Matter works to tell the stories of the Institute’s work and early childhood care and education in Nebraska and beyond. Columns focus on the work of the Institute and the work being done in the community to make Nebraska the best place in the nation to be a baby. 

The columns cover a wide range of topics, including the groundbreaking of the Florence M. Lakin Child Development Center at the MICAH House emergency shelter, research into the safety of plastic baby products, and profiles on educators in the Omaha metro.  
  • The Community Service Award for the We Care for Kids/Por todos los ñinos campaign. 
The PRSA Nebraska Community Service Award recognizes an organization or business that has made significant contributions to the common good of the community. 

The campaign, launched in 2022, is coordinated by the Buffett Institute and funded by the Institute, Holland Foundation, and the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five Initiative. It works to ensure that all Nebraska families have access to quality early childhood education by providing information on the essential role of early childhood education and building support for the thousands of early childhood educators who help Nebraska’s economy thrive.  In total, the campaign has reached 155,000 families with young children in Nebraska. 

We Care for Kids is a collaborative, community-based initiative, with 100+ partners across the state helping to meet the need for quality early child programs and services.    

In addition to the PRSA awards, the Buffett Early Childhood Institute was also recognized by the Omaha chapter of the American Marketing Association with the following awards:  

  • PD for All: Building and Sustaining Powerful Partnerships with Families received a Silver Citation of Excellence in the Video category
  • Start Early. Start Well: 10-Year Report, 2013-2023 received a Silver Citation of Excellence in the Communications category
  • We Care for Kids/Por todos los niños was recognized with two American Marketing Association Omaha Pinnacle Awards, in the categories of Public Relations, Not-for-Profit, and Video, Not-for-Profit. 

"These awards are a tribute to the hard work and professionalism of the Institute and its many partners,” said Ally Freeman, the Institute’s director of communications. “We're thankful to the Nebraska Chapter of PRSA and the Omaha AMA for their recognition as we build towards our mission of transforming and improving the lives of young children. It’s a privilege to work with my talented communications colleagues at the Institute to share the story of this organization and its impact.” 


Greta Morris joined the Buffett Early Childhood Institute in June 2023. In her role as public outreach communications specialist, she is responsible for media relations, communications, and public outreach.

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