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 – 2013)

• More than 35,000 high school students and their families have received information, support and resources to increase on-time graduation

• More than 64,000 hours of professional development have been deployed, strengthening the skill base and competency of early childhood educators

• More than 18,000 pre-K students and their families have participated in family engagement workshops, contributing to more confident, healthier and happier families

• More than 1,000 kids were given preschool scholarships, helping to get students off to a strong start with a solid academic foundation


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.

8 News NOW Story | Vanessa & Delilah Receive a New Lease on Life

Story posted on 12/26/13 on the 8 News NOW Website

8 News NOW

Three years ago, Vanessa left a bad marriage. With no income, she moved in with her parents. Her young daughter Delilah’s daytime companion was the television.

“She was really, really quiet and reserved,” Vanessa said. “After I left her dad, she was literally a wreck. It was really hard for her.”

Vanessa, barely out of high school, wanted to go to college to become a pharmacist. She knows the value of education, but couldn’t afford to send Delilah to preschool. Then, she heard about United Way of Southern Nevada’s Tuition Assistance Scholarship Program.

“We’re providing scholarships to allow kids access to high-quality education in the preschool environment,” said United Way of Southern Nevada President and CEO Cass Palmer. “Third grade is the marker. Those criterion tests are done in third grade. If the child is not doing well, typically, the child is not going to graduate high school.”

Palmer says investing in learning at the prekindergarten level helps build a foundation for a child that will help keep him or her out of social services later in life.

“They’re more confident. They’re more outgoing, and they’re just more comfortable with who they are,” Palmer said.

Vanessa and Delilah started Hill and Dale Preschool together. Delilah attends as a student, and Vanessa volunteers in the classroom.

“She was able to put more sentences together. She was learning the alphabet, and she was learning to spell, because she wanted to learn all the sounds the letters made,” Vanessa said.

Vanessa has changed her career path and wants to open a daycare center. Delilah, meanwhile, is blossoming into an outgoing five-year-old.

“She loves to dance. That’s her favorite. She’s a little ballerina. She loves to play sports. She likes to color,” Vanessa said. “She likes to make books. That’s a big thing. She loves writing books. She draws pictures and she says, “How do I spell this word, and how do I spell this word?’”

Thanks to the United Way’s Tuition Assistance Scholarship Program, Delilah and Vanessa are finding success.

By Sherry Swensk, Weather Anchor, 8 News NOW

By Kyle Zuelke, Photojournalist, 8 News NOW


Giving Place | Education

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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 forContinue Reading

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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 andContinue Reading

Summer Reading Book Drive | June 10 – 14

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Retired with a Mission | How Larry Helps Young Children

What most people envision for their retirement probably does not include young children and going back to the classroom. But that’s exactly what Larry Backes did when he retired after spending 37 years of his life dedicated to finance and the last 17 at US Bank. “I have been fortunate to receive a good education,Continue Reading

Breakfast with Champions

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Giving Place | Education

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education news

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.