what is OC?

Ogallala Commons has grown from a small project into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides leadership and education to reinvigorate communities and commonwealth in the Great Plains Region. OC’s work is centered over the High Plains-Ogallala Aquifer region (see map on right), but also extends west to the Rocky Mountains and east to the river-braided prairies.

Ogallala Commons is shaped and directed by a 9-member Board of Directors, assisted by an Advisory Council and a small staff–men and women leaders from 6 states in the High Plains-Ogallala Aquifer region—leaders who follow the vision of Ogallala Commons and build it into an operational community resource network.

How do we develop leaders?



High School youth submit portfolios for a business idea or a “ready-to-go” enterprise. Through a day of interviews with judges, demonstration booths, and a well-presented proposal, aspiring youth entrepreneurs can earn cash prizes for their proposals, while gaining valuable experience.



An event organized with community partners and educators for 60-80 high school students from multiple schools, teaching key messages and tools for career development.

Youth are invited to return to their hometowns and regions after postsecondary education to pursue careers, raise families, and serve as leaders.

An introduction to youth entrepreneurship, and ideas for developing an entrepreneurial mindset for their career futures.

Exploration of career options in the region that could bring youth back •Site visits and interviews with local business owners.



A program for gaining work experience, skill development, and hometown career exploration for high school, college, and graduate students, plus older adults who are finished with postsecondary education. These internships (200-360 hours) are actually work-training instead of job employment, and take place through partnerships with civic organizations, agencies, institutions, and businesses, which provide meaningful projects as well as a stipend for work experience.



Longer, more targeted work experience and professional skill building that is required to attain full- time work or entry into a specific job or career field (500-600 hours).

entrepreneur in residence


OC Intern or Apprentice alums who have a business plan and who desire further development and planning through coaching. These entrepreneurs will commit to coaching from Ogallala Commons during a 2-year incubation time frame.

Homecoming learning cohort


A group of OC Community Intern and Apprentice alumni, who strengthen their “home-making” practices through small group sessions and personal learning projects, in order to increase their knowledge and skills in five core competencies: 1) career/enterprise strategic planning & monitoring; 2) Financial planning & stability; 3) community leadership/civic engagement; 4) health and sustainability; and 5) building a digital platform for networking & marketing.

commonwealth intensives


Through a series of both digital and telephonic trainings, participants will grow in a deeper understanding of the 12 Assets of the Commonwealth.

coaching leadership


Those who complete the other stages in OC’s Development Ecosystem, can commit to a coaching relationship for 1-2 years for further professional development in an established career, or to incubate their own business or nonprofit enterprise.