Education | Building Block

Propelling children forward with academic certainty

In our local community and in alignment with United Way’s national goals, United Way of Southern Nevada is committed to securing more academic opportunity for all children, engaging families in their children’s academic journey to ensure a lifetime of success, and increasing teacher’s skills and proficiencies for greater pupil-student engagement and learning.

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Our Mission
To help all children enter school ready to learn, to move through school with confidence, be career ready at graduation, so that they happily and positively contribute to the local workforce.

Our Vision
All children enter school at grade level or above, consistently close the achievement gap and demonstrate proficiency in reading, math and literacy by third grade.

Our Goals

  • Increase the percentage of child care providers with access to quality professional development.
  • Increase the percentage of children with access to quality preschool programs.
  • Increase the percentage of families with access to family engagement training, activities and support systems to enable students to graduate.


Driving Results that Allow Children to Thrive (2010 – 2014)

• More than 45,000 high school students and their families have received information, support and resources to increase on-time graduation

• More than 73,000 hours of professional development have been deployed, strengthening the skill base and competency of early childhood educators

• More than 23,000 pre-K students and their families have participated in family engagement workshops, contributing to more confident, healthier and happier families

• More than 1,300 kids were given preschool scholarships, helping to get students off to a strong start with a solid academic foundation

• This year, 279 at-risk high schoolers received their diploma and graduated through the support of our Family Engagement Resource Centers

Enrollment in quality early childhood education programs improves student performance all the way through on-time high school graduation by building a solid foundation for a lifetime of learning.



Lily and Gabriel Receive a Strong Start


A doctoral student at UNLV, Holly Schneider had almost given up hope in finding resources for sending her children, Lily age five and Gabriel age three and a half, to preschool. After some research, she was relieved to receive a United Way Tuition Assistance Preschool Scholarship. When Holly found out about the scholarship, her resources were stretched. Trying to write a dissertation with two active, young children at home was challenging. After Lily and Gabriel began attending preschool, she and her husband Jubal were able to focus on their career goals. “I am passionate about education. It’s a hard road but a good road to provide a better future for my family,” explained Holly. “My husband can also now pursue his dreams and has the time to work an information technology internship for two days a week.” Since attending preschool, Lily has now gained an interest in reading books and learned to write her name and recognize words and letters. “Lily wasn’t getting the social interaction she needed staying at home. It’s really helped her to come out of her shell and she has gained pre-kindergarten academic skills,” said Holly. “She has come a long way.” An active child, Gabriel is strong-willed and his verbal skills were behind.  Holly works closely with his teacher to create strategies to help Gabriel focus his attention on learning. “He has taken a giant step towards verbalizing his frustrations instead of having temper tantrums,” explained Holly. “I am so happy with the outcomes for my family.” Gabriel is now learning different letters and numbers and has an increased attention span. “Preschool is so important for my children,” said Holly. “My children have learned the social skills of how to interact with other children and adults and gained critical social, cognitive and emotional skills.”

 Support Documents/Brochures/Business Cases PDFs

UWSN_2a Policy Briefs – 5

UWSN_2b Strong Start Business Case 12014

UWSN_2c CEO Education Brochure


UWSN_2e 2014 Education Brochure for Parents

Training Helps Little Boy Learn His Alphabet


Local teachers from early childhood education centers from across the Valley of varying backgrounds and education recently dedicated nine months to training to help teach preschool students during the most formative years of learning. The result of the training was evident, teachers became prepared to successfully teach children how to learn, communicate and engage so that when they start Kindergarten, they are not behind.

Rhonda Clausen, a United Way mentor, explained during the Preschool Curriculum Course (PCC) Training Graduation Ceremony why United Way chose to focus on early education eight years ago.teacher-2

“Numerous studies show that if a child is not ready to enter kindergarten at grade level, their chances for success in school and ultimately graduating, are greatly diminished,” said Rhonda. “By giving our children more qualified teachers, they will be better prepared for kindergarten, graduate on time, go on to higher education and become contributing members of society.”

The impact of the graduating PCC participants will be widespread throughout the Valley. “When you look at the 30 PCC participants who graduated, who each have around 20 children in their classroom, this year alone we have impacted 600 children,” said Rhonda.

Many of the graduating teachers already had success stories to share about how the training helped them to teach their students more effectively.

“It’s already changed my way of teaching. I’ve learned how to encourage children, resolve issues and resolve conflicts. Now I give students time to find solutions,” said Jamie.

Through the course, teachers learned how to keep children engaged, teach what children are interested in and communicate with children and parents.

One teacher named Amy Bray, recounted how the training helped her to teach the alphabet to a little boy who was struggling to learn his letters.

“I had worked all year with that student to help him learn his alphabet,” recounted Amy. “I put the alphabet on balls and within a week he knew his letters and the sounds.”

Amy also had a child that communicated through tantrums and fits. She changed how she reacted to the student and instead of acting out the child came to her and said, “Ms. Amy, I want to talk about it.” It was a huge turnaround.

Rhonda explained the importance of educating teachers in students with a quote from B.B. King, “The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.”

The graduating teachers’ journeys did not end with the conclusion of the class. “You have a responsibility to use what you’ve learned and communicate with parents and families. Advocate for children!” encouraged Rhonda.

YPS | Helping Children Learn to Save

United Way of Southern Nevada’s Young Philanthropists Society (YPS) members treated over 100 students at Bracken Elementary School on Wednesday, May 21 to a Root Beer Float Celebration. Students who had the highest participation in the “Piggy Bank” program during the 2013-14 school year got to indulge in the summertime favorite dessert, sponsored by the…Continue Reading

Gaby Newell | Helping High School Students Graduate

Gaby Newell makes an impact on most everyone she meets. With her vibrant, lively hair and a personality to match, she inspires high school students to graduate and pursue a higher education through her role as an AmeriCorps member serving at United Way Women’s Leadership Council’s Family Engagement Resource Center (FERC) at Clark High School. She likes to…Continue Reading

Back to School | Ideas to Help You & Your Child

School is here and with it the hustle and bustle of getting your children off safely to school, lunch in hand, prepared for their classes and feeling comfortable with their teachers and other students. We know this is an exciting and liberating time of year, as children learn to wake up early again and face the…Continue Reading

Vanessa and Delilah’s Story | Education

“Now I Know my ABCs…” A single mother of 5-year-old Delilah, Vanessa was raising her daughter at home and didn’t have the resources to send her to preschool until she found out about United Way’s Tuition Assistance Preschool Scholarship (TAPS) program. With this tuition assistance, Vanessa was able to obtain quality early childhood education for…Continue Reading

Summer Reading Book Drive | June 10-14

United Way of Southern Nevada is encouraging summer reading by holding a Book Drive on June 10 through 14. When school is out children can lose as much as three months of reading comprehension. Community members who participate in the Summer Reading Book Drive can help change that story. Community members can drop off their…Continue Reading

Class of 2013 | Melisa Prepares for Her Future!

As high school students are graduating, many are making plans and applying to their favorite colleges. Yet there are students across Las Vegas like Melisa who don’t have access to a home computer and need help applying for federal funding and making their dreams a reality. With a serious desire to go to college and…Continue Reading

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United Way of Southern Nevada Awarded Prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Grant

United Way of Southern Nevada has been awarded a Roadmaps to Health Community Grant by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to advance policies and system changes to improve early childhood education. The grant will support work in defining policy priorities, engaging the public and key stakeholders, and educating policy makers.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded Roadmaps to Health Community Grants to 18 coalitions across the United States to improve the health of those communities. These alliances aim to create healthier places to live, learn, work, and play. In its second year, the Roadmaps to Health grants now support a total of 30 state and local coalitions made up of leaders from government, business, education, health care, public health, and community organizations.

Research indicates that when children’s needs are met during the first five years of development, the benefits last a lifetime. The right start in life, through early childhood education, leads to better outcomes; increased rates of graduation; success into adulthood; and improved health across a lifetime. United Way of Southern Nevada wants to eliminate barriers that Nevada families face in finding quality, affordable, and accessible early childhood programs.

The project’s policy agenda includes obtaining the following: a state definition of school readiness and a common Kindergarten entry assessment; enhanced professional development and certification of early childhood providers; a phased-in state mandate to participate in the Silver State Stars Quality Rating System; expanded child care subsidy eligibility; and a coordinated early childhood data system.

Roadmaps to Health grantees are impressive examples of leaders from multiple sectors—including public health, health care, education, faith and family organizations—working together to improve health. We hope to see more communities learning from these Roadmaps collaborations and using the County Health Rankings to create a healthier, better life for families,” said James S. Marks, MD, MPH, director of RWJF’s Health Group.

“United Way of Southern Nevada is honored to receive this grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. We stand alongside other community organizations from around the country who are driving impact in their communities through collaboration, best practices, and an unrelenting determination to improve our community’s conditions,” says Cass Palmer, President and CEO of United Way of Southern Nevada.

United Way of Southern Nevada is among 18 grantees selected from more than 400 applicants. This year’s grantees will join 12 existing grantees to build consensus and implement policy and systems changes that address the factors we know influence how healthy people are and how long they live.  The Wells Fargo Foundation and the Lincy Institute at UNLV will provide matching funds for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant.

The Roadmaps to Health Community Grants are a major component of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program——a collaboration of RWJF and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The program promotes solutions that make it easier for people to be healthy in their own communities by focusing on specific factors that affect health, such as education, employment, social support, and community safety. The grants will be managed by Community Catalyst, a national consumer health advocacy organization.