Democracy, Civic Engagement and Leadership Development
The work of Nevadans for the Common Good (NCG) flows directly from democratic values. We develop organizational relationships that grow the voices of families and communities that normally have little power over decisions that impact their own lives.
In seeking to embody these democratic values, Nevadans for the Common Good (NCG) identifies and trains leaders, who are everyday people from our member institutions. We connect across racial, religious, and socio-economic divisions, develop capacities and skills in public life, and organize power so regular people impact the decisions affecting them, their families, and their communities.
Working together to build sustainable, relational power, our leaders create imaginative responses to local problems, and win immediate, concrete victories that change their communities for the better.
Issues And Victories
Our leaders work in teams to choose issues based on countless conversations within our communities, as well as research on policy and best practices. The following are a few examples of the issues we have worked on and what we have achieved.
Payday Lending Reform
During the 2019 legislative session, NCG passed SB201 to protect consumers with a payday lending database. Against a powerful payday lending lobby, NCG leaders helped pass this common-sense legislation to protect consumers from the payday lending debt cycle before the damage to families has been done. SB 201 will enforce existing Nevada law limiting the amount borrowers can take out and preventing payday lenders from adding illegal fees and fines. SB 201 also enshrines current protections for members of the military into Nevada statue. Bill sponsor Senator Cancela said, “This bill would not have passed without NCG.”
NCG continues to work with financial institutions to provide alternative small loan products and access to credit.
Over 200,000 Nevadans are rent burdened (aka paying more than 30% of their income on housing). There are only 30,000 affordable units available, leaving a 170,000 shortfall.
In 2019, NCG worked with housing advocates to pass SB448. SB448 will create approximately 600 new affordable housing units per year through a $10 million per year tax credit program. Over the 4 years of the pilot program, this legislation will give 2,400 Nevada families access to affordable housing.
Meals on Wheels
The Meals on Wheels program helps home-bound seniors maintain their independence by providing a daily nutritious meal. The health consequences of inadequate nutrition for these seniors can be life threatening: a higher risk of disease, decreased physical functioning, and premature institutionalization.
After learning the State of Nevada contributed on average only $0.22 per meal to this program (the lowest rate in the country), Nevadans for the Common Good successfully lobbied the State Legislature to increase funding for the Meals on Wheels program by $3.4 million in 2017. During the 2019 legislative session, NCG secured an additional $0.50 per meal reimbursement rate on top of the budget increase secured in 2017. This funding has addressed the 900+ person waiting list and improved the financial stability of the program.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks Nevada 50th in the nation in education. With the ongoing teacher shortage crisis, Nevadans for the Common Good has called on school board trustees and legislators to solve the teacher shortage crisis by 2020 and ensure there is a quality educator in every classroom.
Nevadans for the Common Good is committed to working with partner schools through our Alliance Schools Strategy to devise and implement effective steps for improving public education. Last year, we traveled to Carson City to successfully advocate for $500 million in new funding for targeted programs to improve our public education system. Additionally, we’ve accepted the nomination to sit on the SAGE Commission established by Governor Sandoval to track waste and inefficiency in Nevada’s education system.
In 2017, NCG organized with Fremont Middle School to save their school from closing and their students having to relocate to a school four miles away. The plan is for Fremont Middle School to be rebuild, as well as building a brand new Global High School across the street for newcomers.
Medicaid- Care for the Elderly & Persons with Disabilities
Many seniors who come to Las Vegas to retire eventually face isolation and hardship. The suicide rate among elderly in Nevada is twice the national average. The public infrastructure for health care, transportation and other vital services remains a work in progress. Nevadans for the Common Good is working with community and governmental partners to address these issues.
In 2015, we worked with AARP and other community groups to secure passage of the CARE Act to recognize and assist family caregivers in Nevada and to improve communication during the hospital discharge process. Nevadans for the Common Good also worked to expand the Home and Community-Based Waiver program so that an additional 173 low-income seniors can continue living in the community and avoid institutionalization.
The State of Nevada is evaluating a move of services under Medicaid for the elderly, blind, and disabled from state management to a private managed care system. NCG is concerned that this move will have negative impacts on services for these populations. NCG:
- Called for transparency and input from all stakeholders, particularly program recipients and service providers, throughout the process
- Has met with Richard Whitley, Director of the Department of Health and Human Services, to discuss program options.
- Participated in Town Meeting/Listening Sessions scheduled by HHS on this issue
- Will continue to be involved to advocate for a transparent process and a plan that best serves and protects these vulnerable populations
Immigrants from around the world have moved to Las Vegas to pursue their dreams. Many have been able to find opportunity and thrive. But, more work needs to be done to integrate immigrants into the community. The graduation rate for English Language Learners is below 25%. Unscrupulous swindlers trick and defraud immigrants as they attempt to navigate the immigration system. Nevadans for the Common Good is training leaders in immigrant communities to confront these challenges.
Nevadans for the Common Good held several Immigration Civic Academies to debunk some of the myths around immigration, as well as talk to our immigrant communities about pressures that affect them the most.
Las Vegas is an international hub for the trafficking of children for sex. The Las Vegas Metro Police Department recovers over a hundred children from the sex trade every year. In recent years, 60-70% of these children have been from Nevada.
In 2013, Nevadans for the Common Good worked alongside state lawmakers to pass AB 67, groundbreaking legislation to address this problem. (See newspaper article). Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto praised our effectiveness:
“Nevadans for Common Good have been a driving force behind this bill. The progress we have made thus far is due in large part to the members of Nevadans for Common Good.”
We also worked with County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani to post the national sex trafficking hotline number at McCarran Airport and on bus shelters across the Las Vegas Valley.
After the recession, the zip codes with the highest foreclosure rates in the nation can be found in the Las Vegas Valley. in 2012, over fifty percent of homeowners were underwater and many owed hundreds of thousands of dollars more than their houses are worth. Many of these homes end up abandoned and blighted and threaten the health and vitality of their surrounding neighborhoods. Leaders from Nevadans for the Common Good respond to the pressures that their communities face by cleaning up blighted properties in their communities and working to find sustainable solutions to the foreclosure crisis.
In Boulder City, 15.6% of the population is food insecure. In 2014, three Boulder City food pantries faced layoffs and declining food provision after losing a vital state grant. Leaders with Nevadans for the Common Good successfully lobbied for $64,000 in leftover funds within the grant program to help make up the difference and ensure residents of Boulder City continued to have access to emergency food resources.