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Las Vegas launches fund to help pay for needed projects

The city of Las Vegas has launched a fund that aims to unite private dollars with pressing funding needs, including the city’s homeless courtyard project.

The formal name is the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, which stands for livability, innovation, future and education. The nonprofit Nevada Community Foundation will manage the fund.

The recession is over, but the city will continue to feel a revenue strain to fund services and infrastructure, City Manager Scott Adams said.

“The fund is going to be one of the things that allows us to have stretch in the things that we need to continue to invest in that we find a challenge with all the things we’ve got on our plate,” Adams said Wednesday.

Las Vegas officials looked at mayor’s funds in other cities, including Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia, in creating a local model. An 18-member advisory panel will help vet projects to be funded and raise private funds, from their own organizations and others.

Priority projects for the Mayor’s Fund include ConnectHome, an initiative that aims to increase internet connectivity for Las Vegas families, youth employment programs and early childhood education through the city’s Strong Start academies.

The city launched the courtyard project at Las Vegas Boulevard and Foremaster Lane last year, which opened to a 24/7 operation this summer. The facility in the city’s “Corridor of Hope,” where a number of service providers are clustered and where street homelessness is widespread, aims to connect homeless people with a range of services. The city will build out the courtyard into a more permanent setup as operations continue.

Tom Thomas of Thomas & Mack Co., an advisory committee member, pledged $110,000 raised by the Greater Good Council to go toward the courtyard project. Fundraising for the courtyard will continue, Thomas said.

“We want to invest in the biggest impact possible,” Thomas said.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman tearfully accepted the donation. Rich Worthington of The Molasky Group, another advisory committee member, pledged $10,000 from the company and another $10,000 of his personal money to the mayor’s fund. Goodman followed by pledging $10,000 from her city salary to the courtyard.

“You’re going to help bring them back,” giving them a chance to turn their lives around, Goodman said of homeless Las Vegans.

The fund has collected a total of $250,000, and $215,000 in additional commitments, including Wednesday’s contributions.

Advisory committee members also include Tony Sanchez III of NV Energy, Maria Gatti of MGM Resorts International and Brian Formisano of Wells Fargo.

“Our partnership with the philanthropic communities is critical to any success we have going forward,” Goodman said.

Contact Jamie Munks at jmunks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0340. Follow @Journo_Jamie_ on Twitter.

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