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High-need schools in Nevada getting more funds to help students

Communities In Schools of Nevada announced Tuesday that it will receive a five-year federal grant totaling nearly $11.9 million to expand services at six schools in partnership with other organizations.

The nonprofit dropout prevention organization held a ceremony at Smith Middle School, a Clark County School District campus in North Las Vegas.

Tami Hance-Lehr, CEO for Communities In Schools of Nevada, said the funding will make a huge difference in the lives of students and families across the state.

“Today, we are here to celebrate a transformative partnership,” she said.

The organization received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education as part of a nearly $74 million expansion of the federal Full-Service Community Schools grant program.

With the federal grant money, Communities In Schools of Nevada is contributing $1.5 million to support the project.

Funding will be used for services at six schools — two each in the Clark, Elko and Humboldt county school districts.

Grant money will be used in Clark County to bring partner organizations on campus at Smith Middle School and nearby Rancho High School.

Those include the Boys & Girls Club of Southern Nevada, Boys Town Nevada, Fulfillment Fund Las Vegas, The Harbor with the Clark County Department of Juvenile Justice Services, Nevada State University and Workforce Connections.

Hance-Lehr thanked the state’s congressional delegation, which wrote a letter of support advocating for funding for the organization.

The organization won the grant in partnership with the nonprofit Nevada GrantLab.

Miles Dickson, CEO and founder of Nevada GrantLab, said the organization helps nonprofits and public agencies access and administer federal grant funding.

Communities In Schools of Nevada is among 30 recipients nationwide of the federal grant money. It was selected from a pool of 239 applicants.

The organization will allocate more than 60 percent of the grant funding to partnering organizations.

The nonprofit serves 110 high-need schools in the Clark, Washoe, Elko and Humboldt county school districts. Of those, 80 are in the Clark County School District.

Site coordinators work on campuses to help students and their families get the resources they need to overcome barriers and succeed in school.

Hance-Lehr said the organization has been building in “feeder patterns” over the last two years. It means that students who attend an elementary school with the program can continue receiving services when they move up to neighboring middle and high schools.

‘A community of support’

More than 40 people were in attendance at Tuesday’s ceremony, including state and local government officials, school district leaders and a few Clark County School Board trustees.

National Communities In Schools leaders were also in attendance. The national organization is holding a conference in Las Vegas that begins Wednesday.

Before the approximately 30-minute ceremony, Smith Middle School cheerleaders greeted guests and showed them to the school’s library, where the event was held. The school’s mariachi ensemble performed two songs and received a standing ovation.

With the grant money, “we’ll be doubling down to surround our students with a community of support,” Smith Middle School Principal Henry Rodda said.

Deanna Jaskolski — a regional superintendent for the school district — said that when chronic absenteeism continues to be a serious concern, the cost of living continues to crunch the budgets of low-income families and youth mental health continues to suffer, Communities In Schools’ services are needed.

U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto said that so many programs are needed in schools and Communities In Schools is a “game changer” for students.

Programs like Communities In Schools make a difference and “the proof is in the pudding,” U.S. Rep. Dina Titus said, pointing to improved graduation rates and reduced chronic absenteeism.

In a video message that was played during the event, U.S. Rep. Susie Lee — who served as board chair of Communities In Schools of Nevada before running for Congress — said she looks forward to a time when they can see the organization in every Nevada Title I school, those with a high poverty rate.

She said that more importantly, she hopes the day comes when the services aren’t needed, “where we don’t have the type of poverty that burdens our students across this country.”

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com. Follow @julieswootton on X.

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