S.T.A.R.S. Community Development Corporation is dedicated to uplifting disadvantaged communities in Las Vegas by disrupting at-risk lifestyles and helping individuals and families become empowered and successful. Our primary focus is mentoring youth by expanding our services that provide early childhood education, affordable childcare, elementary, middle, and high school mentoring, and striving to ensure high school graduation for our participants. S.T.A.R.S. (Striving To Achieve Real Success) helps individual kids by building relationships with their families. This approach enables us to support conditions and behaviors more effectively that help youth make smart choices.
We currently are serving more than 300 families in Las Vegas. We are committed to supporting family pursuits and ambitions by servicing children, youth, and adults, one household at a time. Providing service to the individual helps to provide service to the family, and ultimately the entire community. This is the most realistic manner in which we can help to introduce self-sufficiency to children and families who may not have had the knowledge or access to necessary resources to ensure this level of success previously.
We want to create an environment that will remove barriers for our families. The areas that we are seeking support are helping families to have access to affordable, reachable services right in their neighborhood. We want to provide access to healthcare, transportation, childcare, and job referrals.
STARSCDC is dedicated to uplifting communities who may otherwise fall victim to at-risk lifestyles by providing charitable services to children, youth and adults that allows communities to become empowered and successful.
S.T.A.R.S. has proven that these programs can make a difference. Middle and high school students from across the Las Vegas metropolitan area are referred to the program by school districts, churches, and word of mouth.
S.T.A.R.S. reached a huge milestone in May 2016. With the generous support of Stout Management Company, our summer home was optimally positioned to pursue this mission. It is situated within a large (798 units) multifamily residential complex that is home to approximately half of the students enrolled at Peterson Elementary School. Families in the Peterson Elementary community need help desperately. One hundred percent of enrolled students qualify for the free/reduced lunch program, and one hundred percent read below grade level. Upon completion of the summer camp, we were informed that we would need to find a new location. At first disheartened, we were quickly provided substantial media attention by the Las Vegas Review Journal . They also provided a feature video supporting our efforts.
Their large readership assisted us in finding a new home. We have obtained our own, which houses our Legacy Learning Center. In this facility, we have been able to also expand our family engagement, community civic engagement, and add entrepreneurship programs.
Program and Targeted Accomplishments
Each student enters the program with their own specific written goals. S.T.A.R.S. creates benchmarks for six-week, six-month, one-year, and five-year timeframes. Through summer camp, Saturdays, and after school mentoring programs, students and families are collaboratively engaged. This all-encompassing approach results in deeper, more emotionally sustained investments by the students to maintain positive attitudes and behaviors which lead to improved academic performance as well as improved family and peer relationships. Family inclusion amplifies the results as the children feel more supported and the parents feel that they are being provided the help they need to be the support that their children need. The more engaged parents are in their children’s academic and social development, the more effective outside mentoring and support can be. Involving the whole family also helps to eliminate logistical barriers to participation.
Outcomes are consistent and compelling. S.T.A.R.S. student participants consistently demonstrate improved academic performances as well as improved classroom and community behavior. Engagement with strong role models and positive activities enables students who come from the most impoverished and criminally challenged neighborhoods to envision different futures than what they are familiar with. S.T.A.R.S. participants are also more likely to finish high school and are better prepared for college or employment.
We are already working closely with the Clark County School District, and S.T.A.R.S. has been written into a grant to assist with a literacy program serving Peterson and Paradise Elementary schools. We were also able to add science curriculum to our summer camp this year, using learning kits accessed through the Desert Research Institute (the environmental research arm of the Nevada System of Higher Education).
Our next step is to establish the S.T.A.R.S. Legacy Learning Center. Proactively Saving Our Children is the Program that we are using to set up the Legacy Learning Center. Understanding that we must be proactive about the services that we know the children need, even before middle school. Staffed with tutors and equipped for academic enrichment as well as sports and dance programs, the Legacy Learning Center will be the hub that houses and supports a whole slate of programs. Some of these activities have been operating on a limited basis, others remained in the planning stage while we struggled to find ways to house and pay for them. Now, with permanent, dedicated space, funding support only limits us.
- S.O.C. (Proactively Saving Our Children: outreach program targeting children 0-12 years; tutoring, mentoring, fine arts and academic enrichment, and connections to community resources.
- U.G.A.R. and I.C.E.: teen pregnancy prevention and violence prevention programs offering individual and group mentoring to at-risk females (Sophisticated Unique Girls with Aspirations and Respect) and males (Intellectual Charismatic Elites), 12-24 years old; includes community service, leadership training and fine arts enrichment.
- Nutrition Mission: health and wellness program to raise awareness, inform and educate the community about the importance of nutrition, through health fairs, feedings, food pantries and workshops.
- S.U. (High School University): dropout prevention program for high school students, offering tutoring services, college tours, support with college admissions and financial aid applications, and individual and group mentoring.
- Y.E. (Elders You Empower): open to adults of all ages, offering job readiness training, referrals to community resources, entrepreneurship exploration, and individual and group mentoring.
- O.E. (College of Enlightenment): program to prepare college students for work after graduation, while supporting retention and graduation rates; participants are enrolled in college and work within S.T.A.R.S. mentoring younger students and leading community service projects.
- Press & Publicity: youth receive training and experience in public speaking, creating newsletters, press releases and blogs; participants help manage the organization’s website and social media presence.
- Family Services & Referrals: specific services chosen to fill gaps for this underserved population; may include onsite child care, before/after school care, tutoring and mentoring for adults, lifelong learning initiatives, community assistance programs and civic engagement opportunities.