Bon Jovi partners with Nevada group to help homeless youth

Updated February 22, 2019 - 10:47 pm

A Southern Nevada nonprofit wanted to be sure it wasn’t living on a prayer as it set out to raise money to build additional housing for homeless young people, so it enlisted rocker Jon Bon Jovi in the effort.

The Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth announced the new fundraising campaign Wednesday to create new housing for homeless and at-risk young people, along with a hub where they can continue to receive wraparound support services.

And it announced that it had a couple of philanthropic power players helping them with the effort: Sands Cares and the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation.

“The high rate of youth homelessness and the dire need for housing in Southern Nevada was distressing to us,” Bon Jovi, who is chairman of the foundation, said in a news release.

Through Sands Cares, Las Vegas Sands is investing $100,000 in the project, the first contribution toward the goal of $500,000.

“We hope to see a big community rally around the campaign momentum started by the JBJ Soul Foundation and Sands Cares,” Ron Reese, a spokesman for the Las Vegas Sands, said in the release. “It’s imperative that we give our community’s vulnerable youth a fresh start.”

To supplement donations, the Bon Jovi foundation pledged to match additional donations dollar for dollar, up to $100,000, to encourage further gifts.

The campaign is part of the Southern Nevada Plan to End Youth Homelessness, which was released in November and maps out a strategy of increasing housing through innovative funding partnerships with the public and private sector. Sands Cares also was a major sponsor of that initiative, which resulted from a yearlong collaboration involving a diverse group of financial backers, national experts, community stakeholders and young adults who have experienced homelessness.

The need is great: Clark County ranks fifth in the nation for the rate of unaccompanied homeless youths living on the streets or in shelters, and Nevada has the highest rate of unsheltered homeless youths, according to recent data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“Compared to other communities with similar numbers, we are really lacking the infrastructure and housing and high-quality services,” said Arash Ghafoori, executive director of the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth. “We want to mobilize as quickly as possible. … Becoming partners with these organizations in different ways helps us to increase capacity and bandwidth.”

Ghafoori said the organization currently can house about 40 to 50 youths in its existing facility and wants to add the capacity to shelter at least 16 more youths at a time.

Young people currently in the organization’s programs receive case management with a licensed social worker, life skills classes, therapy, workforce readiness training, educational counseling, transportation assistance and referrals to other community services in the area.

The Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth’s fundraising campaign will target major gifts from both corporations and foundations. Anyone wishing to make a donation can do so at www.nphy.org/aplacetosleep.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates Sands Cares.

Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @brianarerick on Twitter.

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