While there are numerous organizations already working on behalf of youth, Las Vegas’ Promise attempts to identify what is working and what is not, and to assist these organizations in enhancing their programs as they relate to the Five Promises listed above. Concerned citizens and professionals who interact with children utilize the Five Promises, track progress against defined goals and report outcomes. It is a win-win situation for young people and for the community.
Along with its first-year goal of impacting a minimum of 7,000 children, Las Vegas’ Promise Executive Director Verise Campbell said the group’s larger mission is to engage every section of the community. “It’s not how widely we reach Las Vegas, but rather how deeply,” she said.
Since becoming a Community of Promise, Las Vegas’ Promise has increased awareness of the mission of America’s Promise, known through its spokesperson, Secretary of State Colin Powell. Las Vegas’ Promise has been designated a “demonstration organization,” to which the larger, national group can point with pride.
Starting with 10 community-based organizations, community stakeholders, partners and concerned citizens, the Las Vegas collaborative was begun with partners including BankWest of Nevada, The Venetian Casino Resort, Southern Nevada Health Education Center (AHEC), The Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, Brandon’s ATA – Karate for Kids, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Las Vegas, the YMCAs of Las Vegas, The Volunteer Center of Las Vegas and the Clark County School District. Today, Las Vegas’ Promise consists of: 43 Congregations of Promise; five Schools of Promise; two Banks of Promise; a Restaurant of Promise; and a Pharmacy of Promise, with other businesses still signing on.
To officially launch its efforts, the organization hosted a Week of Promises this past September, during which the fifth anniversary of the America’s Promise organization was celebrated. Businesses, public officials, community groups and leaders, as well as young people, united in their determination to pursue the mission of this county-wide initiative. BankWest of Nevada announced the official opening of the group’s permanent Las Vegas headquarters and Mayor Goodman declared a Week of Promise throughout the city.
Las Vegas’ Promise was instrumental in organizing a historic visit to Las Vegas this past April by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, featuring a town hall meeting.
A recent partnership with Princess House during its annual convention yielded a two-day mentoring event at two local schools. Over 100 volunteers participated in beautifying the schools and establishing a chess club. Singing, dancing and gym activities rounded out the event. In addition, Princess House donated over $10,000 of its company’s products, as well as truckloads of items requested by the schools, including school supplies, shoes, clothing, bicycles, a television and a leaf-blower.
One example of the power of the “Caring Adults” promise is shown by a local success story. In 1989, Leland Brandon of Brandon’s ATA – Karate for Kids and a fellow karate instructor, David Bowe, reached out to a streetwise kid with too much free time on his hands, who was destined to get into trouble. Introduced to structured activities through the Karate for Kids program, and acknowledged and admonished during non-school hours if he was not doing something productive, Mickey Rico, now in his early 20s, grew up to be one of the youngest ATA karate school owners (Rico’s Black Belt Academy). Still working side-by-side with his mentors, Rico is a well-rounded leader respected by youth and adults alike. The Karate for Kids Program can now preach what it has been practicing for more than 13 years and is an active partner in Las Vegas’ Promise.