New Urban League looks to take Las Vegas to the next level
As our communities brace against the rippling effects of a faltering economy, agencies such as the Urban League have received federal stimulus dollars to help combat a growing number of fiscal woes.
Established in 2004, the Urban League of Las Vegas (recently rebranded from its original name, the Las Vegas Clark County Urban League) has named a longtime local leader, Assemblyman Morse Arberry Jr., as interim president/CEO. He is serving while a national search is conducted for a permanent leader.
“We are redefining ourselves as the Urban League of Las Vegas, not affiliated with county government,” said Arberry. Eager to take the agency’s helm, Arberry’s new post comes near the end of a 24-year stint in the state legislature.
According to Arberry, the Urban League of Las Vegas is “going to take the community on a progressive level. There is a new top-level administration staff, and we are excited to bring the Urban League of Las Vegas to another level.”
Although the Las Vegas organization is affiliated with the National Urban League, Arberry is quick to highlight what he sees as significant differences. For example, the local agency stands on the more than 30-year legacy of the Economic Opportunity Board. “Typically our mission … is different then the National Urban League’s mission,” said Arberry, “We are a community action agency … trying to educate, train and put people back to work. We also have programming for the youth and dealing with ex-felons. We are stepping up to the plate and developing solutions to many issues.”
One of the organization’s chief concerns: Nevada’s high unemployment rate. “Many people have sought our services because they have lost their jobs and are dealing with being unemployed for the first time in their lives,” said Arberry. “There are many issues that they are faced with, and we train and help them deal with their situations.”
Despite the agency’s work, there are whispers in some circles that stimulus funds allocated to the Urban League and other organizations may not end up benefiting those who need it most. Arberry is quick to dispel such criticism.
“We try to educate people about the stimulus money we have received and get them to understand that it is short-lived,” he said. “We have to compound fundraising services on that stimulus money, so when it is no longer available we are still raising money to do the job we are supposed to do. This is what President Obama said from the outset of the stimulus package: He wants the money to energize people and agencies, and then it is up to us to pick up the ball and keep running with it.”