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News | March 24, 2023

The National Hispanic Institute Welcomes a New Group of Las Vegas Students into its Youth Leadership Program

On March 4, the National Hispanic Institute (NHI) welcomed 50 Las Vegas high school students into its 2023 summer program in an induction ceremony held at the Vistas Community Center. Student participation in the NHI youth leadership curriculum is being made possible by funding from Sands Cares through a cumulative three-year $150,000 partnership to launch and execute NHI’s program in Las Vegas.

Representing nine Las Vegas high schools, students are joining a unique program encompassing three immersive and progressive summer tracks that are designed to equip youth with the skillsets and knowledge to successfully engage in community organizations and the legislative process. Since 1979, NHI’s youth leadership program has offered curriculum to help high-potential youth develop skills in communication, community advocacy and policy-making, as well as prepare them for success in higher education.

“The intent of all of the NHI youth leadership offerings has always been to cultivate skillsets and confidence among youth to help them improve society,” Nicole Nieto, executive vice president of National Hispanic Institute, said. “Being able to invite more students into our programming means we can facilitate youth to envision the work needed for a prosperous future for all, and Sands’ partnership has allowed us to reach our goal of sustainably expanding our program into Las Vegas for the first time.”

The 2023 induction ceremony included remarks from both NHI and Sands representatives, a formal pinning program, as well as a mixer for participating students to get to know one another in advance of their time together in the summer program. Exemplifying NHI’s approach of quickly immersing students into learning opportunities, the ceremony also included an exercise for the students to experience the type of curriculum that will take place over the summer. While students participated in the exercise, parents attended a session on identifying leadership behaviors in their student leaders.

In a few months, these students will join 400 peers from across the country at one of three week-long summer program tracks taking place on college campuses in California, Colorado and Texas. The first program track in the series is the Great Debate, which is for rising sophomores and emphasizes communications skill as a tool for self-advancement and community change. Year two grooms rising juniors to participate in a democracy through the Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session, which exposes youth to governance, organizational development and policy design. Finally, rising seniors participate in the Collegiate World Series, which has a dual focus on preparing for both college admissions and the call to community leadership. All three program tracks build communication and organizational and leadership skills, while preparing students for college and active community engagement.

“Some of our students in Las Vegas are returning for their second or third summer session with us to further expand and refine the skills that will make them capable leaders and community advocates, and some are just starting their journey with NHI’s youth leadership program,” Nieto said. “The investment Sands has made into building a better future for aspiring leaders will make a lasting impact for the students, particularly those who may not otherwise participate without financial support. We also share our sincere thanks to the Las Vegas volunteer alliance that support these students, led by our project administrator Rowena Messner.”

Sands’ support for the National Hispanic Institute fulfills two Sands Cares focus areas: providing educational resources and mentorship to aid in building the workforce of the future, as well as helping to advance the missions of diverse community organizations.

To learn more about the NHI youth leadership programs, please visit

A group of people stand on a grassy lawn, chatting to one another. Many of the people are wearing blue sticker nametags with their names written on them.
As part of the NHI induction ceremony, students participated in an exercise that exemplifies its unique leadership curricula.