Through Sands Cares, Las Vegas Sands is leading the way to bring positive change to the significant homelessness problem in Las Vegas. Working with various agencies and partners in the community, the company believes in playing an active role to bring new solutions and resources to address the issue. Las Vegas has the third largest unaccompanied homeless youth population, with more than 80% unsheltered, the highest rate in the nation and the sixth largest population of homeless individuals among major cities. Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth (NPHY) is currently at the forefront in Las Vegas aiming to reduce the number of unaccompanied homeless youth and guide them on a path to success.
“Our goal as an organization is to provide high-quality services for local homeless youth and fulfill our leadership voice in the community,” Arash Ghafoori, executive director of NPHY, said. “Las Vegas Sands has given us the tools and the capacity to do so. They understand that we are running a business and they take a leadership role in providing us with business expertise and guidance. It’s refueling and phenomenal to have a partner in the community that really understands our goals and assists us in achieving them. They are the catalyst for us to be innovative, grow as an agency, elevate our issue and also an ideal corporate partner that others should emulate.”
Sands Cares has aided NPHY is numerous programs to help homeless youth become self-sufficient. Some of the programs include: Sands Cares Accelerator Program, educational support at NHPY’s drop-in center, expanded Emergency Shelter program, Independent Living Program/transitional housing program, outreach, the Southern Nevada Youth Homelessness Summit, operational support, retrofit for their center and administrative offices, and in-kind support for NPHY’s Annual Graduation Dinner.
“One program that has really stood out to us was Las Vegas Sands helping us with our Young Achievers program,” Ghafoori said. “They designed a workforce development program that assists our clients with finding employment, providing high-earning positions within The Venetian and The Palazzo even without any experience. They have hired two youth per year and also provide mentoring to give inspiration to develop a career in the hospitality industry.”
The Young Achievers Program started two years ago and has developed a work ethic for the youth looking to graduate from high school and start working locally. Ghafoori said that some of the youth have been promoted within the property and are excelling in their positions. Providing career opportunities is just another way that Sands Cares has assisted NPHY in their goal of creating self-sufficient youth that would have otherwise not have been given a chance to succeed.
“This corporate family has given these youth skills and confidence that they would otherwise lack due to them being on their own and trying to survive,” he said. “With corporate donations and in-kind support, any company can do it, but what Sands Cares does is they invest in the community. They create a working partnership with area organizations like ours and they truly believe in the cause. They provide a multi-faceted investment, evaluating and making strategic moves.”
Ghafoori says the way the company looks at non-profits as start-ups is what sets them apart, as they look at what support is needed and they provide assistance for that exact need. He says that they fulfill the vision of the non-profit, assist in the health of the agency and provide pathways for organizations to achieve their goals.
“When we ask for help, we don’t necessarily just want money, we want people to understand what we want to accomplish and invest in us and our clients and Sands Cares accomplishes that every year,” Ghafoori said. “With the Youth Homelessness Summit, their assistance in getting the community together in one place to share ideas and solve some of the critical issues we’re facing with youth homelessness was immeasurable. There’s not enough attention to this issue and we need advocacy and Sands Cares helps us with that.”
Sands Cares also developed a media campaign for NPHY in 2015 garnering more attention to the issue that is plaguing Las Vegas. While the issue is complicated, the campaign allowed the general public to see that not all homeless youth are the same and they are facing issues that not a lot of people are aware of.
“This campaign allowed the general public to talk about the issue and if they are aware, they will want to do something about it,” Ghafoori said. “Sands Cares puts all of their efforts into the possibilities of what can happen and what can be changed. The issue has been raised because of the partnership we have with Las Vegas Sands and they are the catalyst and the engine that can pull it off. They put all of their assets behind a cause and make things happen.”