Holland Foundation gifts $3 million to NU’s Buffett Early Childhood Institute

By: - June 20, 2023 11:41 am

Deb Love, president of the Holland Foundation (left), NU president Ted Carter (center), and Walter Gilliam, new executive director at Buffett Early Childhood Institute’s 10th anniversary celebration at the Scott Conference Center (right) were among those celebrating the 10th anniversary of the institute at an event this week. (Courtesy of Rebecca S. Gratz)

OMAHA — The Holland Foundation has pledged a $3 million gift to the University of Nebraska’s Buffett Early Childhood Institute, university representatives announced Tuesday.

The funding comes as the Buffett Institute celebrates its 10-year anniversary this month and welcomes a new executive director, Walter Gilliam.

Deb Love of the Holland Foundation and Walter Gilliam of Buffett Early Childhood Institute. (Courtesy of Rebecca S. Gratz)

“The need for access to quality early childhood education for all Nebraska families is evident now more than ever,” said NU president Ted Carter. “It impacts our families, our children, our businesses, our communities, and our great state.”

In the past decade, the Buffett Institute has become a state and national voice for early childhood education and educators. It promotes faculty and graduate student research at Nebraska’s public university system, and partners with schools, communities and policy-makers.

Gilliam, who follows the retirement of founding executive director Samuel Meisels, said he is hopeful and excited.

“The need has never been more pressing in this country, and in Nebraska, than it is today,” said Gilliam, who grew up in Kentucky. He formerly was professor of child psychiatry and psychology at Yale University and director of Yale’s Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy.

The Holland Foundation’s gift, made through the University of Nebraska Foundation, is part of the “Only in Nebraska: A Campaign for Our University’s Future,” an effort to encourage benefactors to give $3 billion to support NU students, faculty and programs in addressing the needs of the state.

Gilliam said the Holland gift will help address needs of communities across the state that are seeking to improve access to child care and early education opportunities.

“Dick Holland was a constant support for young children, and the Buffett Institute embodies Dick’s vision to ensure that all children have an equal shot at life,” said Deb Love, president of the Holland Foundation. “We’re excited to continue supporting this work in Dick’s memory.” 



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Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics.