The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada, known as The Center, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday to celebrate a new partnership with the city of Las Vegas and UNLV.
As part of the agreement, the city will give The Center $500,000 over the next five years, and in return, the nonprofit organization will provide the city with meeting spaces and sensitivity training and will take on the overflow from other city community centers.
For its part, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas will offer continuing education and classes for academic credit at The Center.
“We really hope that this is just the beginning,” said Peg Rees, vice provost for UNLV.
Starting Monday, UNLV students will have the opportunity to take classes at a downtown location with convenient parking. Gender and Society, a sociology class focusing on the social and cultural meanings of gender, will meet from 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on weekdays until mid-August.
Rees said the university worked with staff from The Center to provide coursework that fits the needs of the people that frequent the space. UNLV is listening, she said, and wants to create new courses and locations to serve the community.
Continuing education classes that will be offered in the fall include instruction on job seeking and networking skills.
Rees said part of the university’s motivation in partnering with The Center is to reach out to adult learners and nontraditional students. UNLV is working with the cities of Henderson and Boulder City to come up with similar arrangements across the valley.
“We’re hoping to get students to take the classes,” Rees said, “so we can educate as many people as possible.”
UNLV student David Lopez works with the city of Las Vegas as commissioner of parks and thinks it’s a symbolic gesture of the city’s diversity and commitment to education.
“It’s a win-win,” he said. “It shows the city of Las Vegas is supportive of the LGBT community. It’s being efficient and bringing people together.”
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman spoke at the ceremony, praising the cafe at The Center and joking about cutting a different colored ribbon every year.
“Today this ribbon cutting is just another step in the direction of making this center a national focus for education, community involvement, people involvement,” Goodman said
“This is about you,” she said to the young people attending. “It’s about the future, and it’s about our wonderful community. We’re one family, one people pulling together and trying to help.”
The Center, as part of the agreement, is to hold cultural competency and diversity training for homeless service providers contracted with the city about people who are transgender.
“It’s about trying to embrace new concepts,” Goodman said.
Raymond Wilmer heads The Center’s board of directors and said the organization has been trying to find a way to partner with the city for years. He said he wants to develop more relationships and prove that The Center is committed to the entire community, not just to gays and lesbians.
“This sets the stage for future partnerships,” he said.
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