News | April 8, 2022
On March 23, Sands held the first global event for the Sands Cares Accelerator, a three-year exclusive membership program designed to propel nonprofit organizations to the next stage in their evolution. The virtual event showcased each member’s goals and accomplishments and celebrated the program’s second graduate, Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth (NPHY).
Launched in 2017, the Sands Cares Accelerator is a unique nonprofit accelerator program developed by Sands to help catapult selected nonprofits to greater community impact through a customized blend of extended funding along with structured guidance, consulting and mentorship from Sands. While each member develops its own specific area of focus and goals to accomplish during its time in the Sands Cares Accelerator, the overall aim is to sustainably increase the organization’s capacity to serve the community.
While the highlight of the global event was NPHY’s graduation, the program also featured presentations by each member organization, including Green our Planet in Las Vegas, Art Outreach in Singapore and the program’s newest member, Green Future in Macao.
Now the most senior member of Sands Accelerator, Green our Planet is a Las Vegas-based nonprofit that operates the only STEM school garden and hydroponics programs in the United States. Green Our Planet aims to both increase student achievement in STEM subjects and conserve the environment through project-based STEM education.
Ciara Byrne, founder and co-CEO of Green Our Planet, highlighted its Sands Cares Accelerator work in the areas of growing marketing capability and globally expanding its hydroponics program, which teaches students STEM, nutrition and financial literacy through planting, harvesting and selling plants grown in hydroponic gardens. The organization is using its Sands Cares Accelerator resources to launch a B-corporation, HydroHealth, that will bring hydroponics farming to the workplace, an effort that also will help sustain funding for its school programs. Among the facets of the Sands Cares Accelerator, Byrne noted the value of the mentoring she and others from Green Our Planet have received from Sands.
Eve Hoon, director of programs and partnerships for Art Outreach, highlighted the nonprofit’s work to expand its Hearth program. The first member of the nonprofit accelerator from outside the U.S., Art Outreach is a Singapore-based nonprofit that aims to increase art appreciation and support for local artists. Its focus on the Hearth program was largely influenced by the pandemic, which prompted the organization to repurpose its administrative offices into a community art space for local artists to exhibit and incubate work. The Hearth program had been so successful in connecting Singaporeans with local artists that Art Outreach decided to use its time in the Sands Cares Accelerator to expand Hearth into a flagship initiative.
Joey Choi, vice chairman of Green Future in Macao, outlined the nonprofit’s plans to use its time in the Sands Cares Accelerator to build an environmental social enterprise focused on commercial waste recycling services, addressing an important need in Macao and providing local employment positions, including opportunities for disabled residents. The newest member to join Sands Cares Accelerator, Green Future specializes in environmental education, along with providing recycling education and resources to the general public.
The event was capped by NPHY’s formal graduation from the Sands Cares Accelerator, which was led by Ron Reese, senior vice president of global communications and corporate affairs, who spearheads corporate responsibility for the company. Reese presented NPHY CEO Arash Ghafoori with a ceremonial diploma and keepsake trophy in advance of the virtual event, which was shared with the global audience via video.
NPHY joined the nonprofit accelerator in 2018 to focus on building the organization’s strategic vision for the next stage in its evolution as the most comprehensive service provider for the thousands of young people experiencing homelessness in Southern Nevada. During his remarks Ghafoori reflected on the tremendous growth NPHY made as a member of the program.
“Working with Sands through the Sands Cares Accelerator and over the course of our relationship has been a game-changer for NPHY,” Ghafoori said. “We have had a thought partner and resources to bring our ideas to life around redefining and evolving our approach to addressing youth homelessness. We’ve gone from merely signaling we need to do more about youth homelessness to being a formidable leader in designing solutions to address the incidence of youth homelessness. Sands has been a great partner in helping us chart our course.”
Since the Sands Cares Accelerator’s inception, Sands directly invested $1.15 million in the five member organizations that have been invited into the program with an additional $925,000 generated for members through fundraising events. Sands Team Members have contributed 460 hours of skill-based consulting and volunteerism to Accelerator members.
“We established the Sands Cares Accelerator to create a longer-term, more exclusive relationship with invited nonprofits so that they can focus on meaningful progress and we can dig in with resources to help,” Reese said. “At the end of the three-year membership, our hope and intention is that members will have grown their identified focus area in a meaningful way and further advanced their missions.”
To learn more about Sands Accelerator, please visit https://www.sands.com/responsibility/communities/sands-cares-accelerator/.