Nebraska Community Spotlights


FHLBank Topeka's mission is to partner with our members to make a difference in communities throughout Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Here are some examples of our partnerships in action.



Randolph, Nebraska

Community Development Program

Garret Robinson’s first job in high school was working for the local beekeeper. In college, a beekeeping class reignited his interest. He continued beekeeping as a hobby for several years and then had the opportunity to purchase a bee farm from his former mentor. In order to make the leap from hobbyist to full-time beekeeper, Garret needed the help of his community, notably his parents who helped provide collateral and the local First State Bank.

“Without FSB lending me the funds, I would not be in the bee business,” Garret said. “They have been great with supporting me through the good times and the bad.”

To make Garret’s dream a reality, First State Bank drew on their relationship with FHLBank Topeka. Through the Community Development Program (CDP), this local community bank was able to secure a reduced-cost advance to match-fund Garret’s loan.

Garret now runs a 1,000-hive outfit in Nebraska and California. The honey is made in Randolph, and the pollination is done in California. He sells his honey and wax to different packers across the country, as well as within his community.

“Some locals stop by the honey house to purchase honey,” said Garret. Helping community financial institutions support local economic development with favorable long-term, below-market pricing is the reason the CDP exists.

“FHLBank is a vital partner in providing unique funding options that benefit both our customers and our bank,” said Mark Linville, president and CEO of First State Bank. “The CDP application is simple, and the program is always utilized for qualifying advances.”

Omaha, Nebraska

Affordable Housing Program

In 2008, there were no residential options in Omaha for a pregnant woman who was dealing with addiction. Heartland Family Service (HFS) wanted to change that.

“Other programs wouldn’t allow mothers to keep their young children with them during treatment,” said John Jeanetta, president and CEO of HFS. “Research shows that being separated from their children makes it much less likely that a mother’s treatment will be successful.”

HFS launched Nebraska Family Works, a program that helps women with addiction and mental health issues, while allowing them a safe place to recover with their children in tow. The program gives preference to pregnant women and mothers with children under the age of 7 years old. 

HFS secured a federal grant but had difficulty finding a place that met licensing requirements and was also in a neighborhood open to having a program that treats people with addiction. At first, HFS rented a floor in an existing apartment building that allowed them to serve 10 families. “We weren’t able to control the cleanliness of the units on the floors above and below us,” explained Jeanetta. This resulted in a bed bug infestation. HFS wanted better conditions for its clients, so it began the process of looking for a new facility.

They found a location in North Omaha that was not only an upgrade in the condition of the facility, but also in the size. “It was originally a luxury apartment complex from the 1960s,” said Jeanetta. “Another nonprofit had seen the potential and gutted the property.”

With a viable location in mind, the next obstacle was funding the multimillion-dollar rehab. HFS had support from the State of Nebraska through various programs, as well as its bank, American National Bank in Omaha. 

Through American National, they successfully applied for a $750,000 Affordable Housing Program grant from FHLBank Topeka in 2014. “Having the AHP grant made it more attractive for our private donors to contribute since we could show we had other dollars secured,” said Jeanetta. 

“American National Bank is incredibly fortunate to continue our long-time partnership with Heartland Family Service on this project,” said Brian Andersen, Senior Vice President at American National Bank. Andersen especially appreciated the rewarding nature of such work saying, “This was the chance to help a leading local organization deliver a truly valuable asset to the community. It will be exciting to hear about the women and children impacted by their work.”


The Nebraska Family Works facility opened in 2016 and includes eight residential units to house 16 families. The added space also allowed for 16 additional supportive housing units for families to transition to after treatment. The building also houses an array of supportive services. As a result of the Family Works program, more than 80 babies have been born without drug or alcohol exposure. 


Many families have been helped by HFS, including Leelynn and her children. Leelynn found her way out of methamphetamine addiction as a result of her treatment at the residential substance abuse program. Once separated from her four children, her family is now reunited, and she has Nebraska Family Works to thank. Read Leelynn’s full story on the HFS website.


FHLBank Topeka’s 2019 AHP round closed June 28. Watch for more information this fall about our successful 2019 applicants. Information about the 2020 AHP will be available in January.


Lincoln, Nebraska

Affordable Housing Program Grant


Home to James Soby and other low-income residents with disabilities, the President and Ambassador buildings in downtown Lincoln, Neb., needed extensive renovations. The historical buildings were converted into low-income housing units in the early 90s and were managed by a partnership of three churches called the Interfaith Coalition. After 20 years, Interfaith and community partners Excel Development Group and Horizon Bank faced funding and relocation issues.


Brent Williams, president and CEO of Excel Development Group said, “If these buildings were not saved, the residents would have most likely ended up at the mission.” 

Resident relocation is standard for many renovations, but a little more complex when the special needs of the residents range from language barriers to mobility issues. For James Soby, a resident of 20 years who is visually impaired, the temporary relocation threatened his daily activities. To aid in the transition, the property manager photographed his entire apartment including the contents of every drawer and cabinet.  Every item was logged and placed as close to its original location as possible with input from James. This helped James to adapt quickly to his new surroundings when the renovations were complete. Great care was put into the relocation and renovation to provide safe, decent affordable housing for some of Lincoln’s most vulnerable citizens.
The President and Ambassador building rehab received a $400,000 FHLBank Topeka Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant in 2013 to fill the funding gap. “The project wouldn’t have happened without the AHP grant from FHLBank Topeka,” stated Paula Rhian, assistant vice president at Horizon Bank. The $8.1 million rehab took four years to complete. When the renovation was finished in 2016 the President and Ambassador buildings were awarded the 2016 Redevelopment Award from the Downtown Lincoln Association. 



Columbus, Nebraska

Homeownership Set-aside Program


Justin and Krista Moon knew they wanted more children, but the two-bedroom home they rented wasn’t fit for their growing family. Without the other knowing, both Justin and Krista began to casually search for a new home online.


When they discussed starting to look for a house, they were surprised that they both already had a favorite – the same 1930s Craftsman-style home with a practical layout and architectural appeal. They then contacted a realtor to see the home in person.


“We got pre-approved with no money down to see what the monthly payments would be,” said Krista. “It resulted in a monthly payment that we wouldn’t be able to afford."


Luckily, Justin and Krista’s realtor helped connect them with Hollie Olk at Pinnacle Bank. She helped find the best financing options and applied for a Homeownership Set-aside Program grant through FHLBank Topeka. Pinnacle Bank, an FHLBank Topeka member since 1992, helped 25 new homebuyers through the HSP in 2016.


The $5,000 down payment helped bring the Moon family’s monthly payment to an amount they could afford, and they moved into their new home this summer. The move came just in time – Krista is expecting their third child later this year.



Lincoln, Nebraska

Discounted Advance Program


After a debilitating car accident, professional skateboarder Billy Moyle suffered a broken vertebrae and partially severed spine. Billy found a rehabilitation program in Lincoln, Neb., but needed somewhere to live nearby. Prairie Crossing Apartments, right across the street from his rehabilitation center, was the perfect solution.


“Rehabilitation is my life right now. It’s everything to me,” he said. “Having this affordable apartment that is wheelchair accessible helps me focus on getting better.”


Prairie Crossing is a 76-unit apartment and townhouse development managed by the Lincoln Housing Authority. It is open to Lincoln residents with low incomes and includes several wheelchair-accessible apartments.The project was financed by West Gate Bank, Lincoln, with help from a $2 million discounted Community Housing Program advance through FHLBank Topeka.


“With this and other projects in low-income areas," said Carl Sjulin, West Gate Bank’s president, "FHLBank’s special funding is one of the key parts of our success.”


500 SW Wanamaker Road
Topeka, KS 66606





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