Grants offer youths chance to give back to community

Every year for the past 10 years, the Youth Neighborhood Association Partnership Program has been offering $1,000 grants for youths to create and implement neighborhood-based service learning projects.

The program was created in collaboration with the city of Las Vegas to offer youths a chance to become directly involved with their community and make a difference in the lives of others.

“The goal of this program is to empower youth to get involved in their communities and teach leadership skills to kids,” said Lisa Campbell, senior neighborhood outreach specialist for Las Vegas. “The program started as a way to engage our youths.”

In the past, sample projects have included care packages, mural, reading and mentoring projects, services for the homeless and home maintenance services to disabled seniors, according to Campbell.

This year, the program has funded 34 different projects throughout Las Vegas. The projects are scheduled to be complete by mid-June.

Ward 6 has four projects that have been awarded the grant.

“The program has been a tremendous help to the community because it gives youth an opportunity to lead,” said Las Vegas Ward 6 City Councilman Steve Ross. “It helps our youth build character and teaches the importance of serving the community.”

Ward 6 youths will focus two projects, No Place for Hate and Veterans Smile, on Westcare, an organization that provides a wide spectrum of health and human services in residential and outpatient environments.

The first project will focus on creating uplifting cards and bags with a twin comforter, socks and toys for women and children, and the second project will provide positive, uplifting paintingsto be hung along a wall where veteran women are patients or live.

Brandon DeWitte, 17, mayor for the Northwest Youth Empowerment Council, is working with the youth council on the Glad 2 Help a Grad project, which plans to purchase caps and gowns for homeless senior students who cannot afford them to graduate.

“There are many high school seniors who cannot afford their caps and gowns, which means that they can’t participate in their graduation,” DeWitte said. “We want to prevent students from dropping out by giving them an incentive to graduate.”

There are approximately 600 high school seniors who cannot afford their caps and gowns in the Las Vegas Valley, according to DeWitte.

The youths plan to fundraise with the community and schools to be able to purchase more caps and gowns for more students.

In addition, a fourth project, titled Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard Food Pantry, will provide healthy, wholesome food for older adults in need.

Those between 8 and 18 years of age who are from neighborhood associations, social organizations, religious groups and educational institutions are eligible to apply for the grant.

The projects must be developed and implemented by youth at every stage with adults serving as advisers and address a neighborhood need.

Projects must occur within Las Vegas city limits and match the grant funds with volunteer time, in-kind donations of goods and services and financial contributions.

Before starting the project, grant recipients are required to sign a contract with the city of Las Vegas, outlining the group’s project commitment and must be completed within five months.

Next year’s funding cycle is scheduled to open in mid-August with applications due by mid-November.

“It feels good to give back,” DeWitte said. “It opens my eyes to the community and lets me see what’s going on around me and give me the opportunity to make my community a brighter place to live.”

For more information or questions, contact Campbell at 702-229-5406 or

Contact North View reporter Sandy Lopez at or 702-383-4686.

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