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September 17, 2014

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United Way family resource centers aim to prevent dropouts

Silverado High School

The United Way of Southern Nevada is preparing to open the last of five family resource centers aimed at raising the high school graduation rate in southern Nevada.

The community organization’s Women’s Leadership Council has joined the Clark County School District to launch the Family Engagement Resource Centers, which will allow parents to access computer resources and district information, and to take classes on financial literacy, health and education issues.

The first center at Sunrise High School opened in late October. Since then, family resource centers have launched at Eldorado, Clark and Western high schools.

The final center, at Silverado High School, will open at 6 p.m. Jan. 11.

The local United Way received a $1 million grant from United Way Worldwide to support the new resource centers for five years.

The local chapter also received a $50,000 grant from AT&T and the Women’s Leadership Council to complete research with parents, teachers and school district officials to prepare for the center openings.

“The family resource centers will help parents get more involved in student life. Families will have the opportunity to come to the school and interact with the principal, teachers and each other,” said Jeff Ogden, the United Way of Southern Nevada’s vice president of community development. “Studies show that parental involvement is extremely important for student success.”

About 35 percent of Clark County students fail to graduate from high school, according to research compiled by the United Way.

Ogden said he hopes the new centers will solve miscommunication issues between the school district and parents.

“Parents say the school doesn’t want them to come (to school) and the schools say parents don’t want to come,” he said. “Often, it’s a cultural issue...Parents need to be engaged and involved.”

The family resource centers in Clark County is one of 15 similar programs launched nationally by the United Way. Nevada was the only state to receive funding for two programs — one in the Las Vegas valley and the other in Reno.

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