Mike Mullin, President and Founder, Nevada HAND
A recurring need within our service communities is for after-school programming that helps youth learn, grow essential life skills and stay safe. But Nevada HAND’s organizational expertise has primarily been in affordable housing. How could we utilize collaboration to create an environment where homes, and the services offered there, become the foundation for successful lives?
Founded in 1993 to address a lack of affordable homes in Las Vegas, Nevada Housing and Neighborhood Development (HAND) improves the lives of low-income individuals by providing housing solutions and supportive services.
There is no shortage of need among families and communities in Las Vegas, but in light of research that demonstrates how crucial safe, stable homes are for children’s long-term outlooks, HAND is making education, enrichment and safety for kids a priority. Families in our communities need places and programs for kids to learn and grow, including at home.
Throughout Las Vegas, many young people are left behind by the school system with few opportunities to catch up. Troublingly, there are not enough constructive ways for kids to spend time after school. Quality after-school programming can help, but in low-income communities like those HAND serves, its availability is sorely missing. Creating positive environments where kids can reach their full potential is a major undertaking, but we were determined to find a solution.
To help us develop youth-centered programming, HAND reached out to local experts, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada. The Boys & Girls Clubs specializes in creating after-school programs where activities encourage kids to build skills in five diverse areas: character and leadership development, education and career development, the arts, sports fitness and
recreation, and health and life Skills. Their strong history in the community and demonstrated success left us certain that this was a great solution for us, so we teamed up.
The Boys & Girls Club is a well-known resource for improving the educational and emotional development of underserved kids, ages five to eighteen. The Boys & Girls Club’s mission to enable all young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens was precisely the kind of opportunity we wanted available to young residents in Las Vegas.In initial meetings between HAND and the Boys & Girls Club, the organizations’ leaders explored the philosophies powering their respective missions and a shared vision of creating stronger communities for everyone. The activities center at Apache Pines, the 274-unit community HAND and the Boys & Girls Club launched its partnership in, provided physical space for collaborative youth programming.
This collaboration led us to create Boys and Girls Clubhouses on-site at both our Apache Pines and Desert Pines communities. These clubhouses provided great access for residents as they are located just outside their front doors. And these sites are bustling with the nearly 400 registered families who participate in various Clubhouse activities.
Within months of launching our first clubhouse with the Boys & Girls Club, HAND learned some growing lessons; the first being the importance of on-site solutions in boosting resident engagement. Parents of club members shared that they were able to work longer, uninterrupted hours thanks to the club’s convenient on-site location, and because the club was doing pickups from the local elementary school and walking kids back to the clubhouse.
Despite these encouraging reviews, and high demand for clubhouse services, we quickly discovered that programming beyond the clubhouse’s scope remained as essential as ever. To most effectively serve our community, HAND concurrently offered a range of enriching services through our resident services programming.
With the lessons of Apache Pines in mind, HAND opened our second clubhouse two years later, in 2015. The Desert Pines clubhouse, located within a 700-unit apartment complex, proudly offers a computer lab, art studio, learning center, game room and teen center. This clubhouse has become a valuable community asset, serving nearly 340 neighborhood families. As HAND continues to develop our innovative Boulder Highway campus, we’re focused on expanding community impact. This site will incorporate affordable homes, a health clinic, a community resource center, a school and a state-of-the-art, 10,000-square-foot Boys & Girls clubhouse, three-times larger than our other clubhouses.
We also learned that resident engagement requires holistic solutions. We initially thought that our first Clubhouse could replace regular resident services in the community, but we quickly discovered that residents needed access to services and programs that were well beyond the Clubhouse’s scope. Another lesson we learned is that collaboration is an on-going relationship that will evolve.
For nearly 25 years, HAND has remained committed to creating safe and stable communities for Southern Nevada. Through collaboration, we seek to embody a “housing-plus-services” model, where home and opportunity go hand-in-hand.