Public-private partnership draws blueprint for improving Las Vegas

In the frustration that comes with watching the political divisiveness in the U.S., it can feel like nothing gets done to solve our nation’s most serious social problems. At the local level, however, came an announcement last week that offered reaffirmation of Americans’ ability to come together to address their communities’ needs. The announcement happened here in Las Vegas, where the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE was unveiled. The fund creates a partnership between the city and private donors to identify, prioritize and fund projects to improve the quality of life for all city residents and provide support for those who are struggling. One initiative that has already been established as a top priority includes developing the city’s homeless courtyard project. That’s a great place to start. Homelessness didn’t go away as the economy recovered, which is evident in many parts of Southern Nevada. Whether it’s panhandlers working busy intersections or tents erected in city parks or washes, the signs of homelessness are all around us. The Mayor’s Fund infuses private dollars into the city’s efforts to address such issues. Modeled after similar initiatives in New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and elsewhere, the fund will be directed by an 18-member steering committee and administered by the nonprofit Nevada Community Foundation. Some of the city’s most prominent philanthropists and businesses have already stepped up, including Tom Thomas of Thomas & Mack Co., MGM Resorts, the Molasky Group, Wells Fargo and NV Energy. Ideally, a city would have enough tax revenue to tackle the kind of challenges that are being identified through the Mayor’s Fund. But with a property tax cap putting a limit on the amount of revenue the city can raise, there’s a limited amount of public funds available. So those contributing to the Mayor’s Fund deserve credit for stepping up. Other areas the fund will address include providing internet connectivity for Las Vegas families through the program ConnectHome, improving early childhood education through the city’s Strong Start academies, and expanding summer learning academies. The LIFE in the title of the fund, by the way, stands for Livability, Innovation, Future and Education, the broad areas that will be covered. Here’s hoping more local businesses join the effort. But here’s also hoping that businesses that get involved don’t offset their contributions by withdrawing funding for charitable organizations that are working to meet critical needs in the community. Brian Formisano, region bank president for Wells Fargo, said in an interview with the Sun that he believed businesses would see the fund as a new avenue for community service — not one that would replace existing contributions. He said the fund was a way for the business community to work directly with the city to make improvements in tightly targeted areas. Meanwhile, the city will continue to work with nonprofit and community social service organizations. The fund is already off to a strong start in terms of the homeless courtyard, which drew a pledge by Thomas for $110,000 raised by the Greater Good Council. The courtyard was launched last year at Las Vegas Boulevard and Foremaster Lane to provide a secure place for homeless individuals and connect them with services. Overall, the fund has collected nearly $500,000 in contributions and commitments. It’s a strong step toward making Las Vegas a better place to live and an encouraging thing to see at a time when the nation can seem all too divided.   Source: Lasvegassun