When the Adults Come Out to Play

Leave the kids at home. Communities in Schools of Nevada is trying something new for its biggest fundraiser of the year. The Today for Tomorrow gala hits the Cosmopolitan on November 5, taking over the Belmont Ballroom from 6 to 10 p.m. for a 1920s speakeasy-style party. The goal is to help students, but the bash is strictly for adults.

“It’s a different kind of gala, because it’s not a formal sit-down dinner,” says Board Chair Susie Lee. “It’s definitely a fun time, and we’ll try to raise as much money as we can to support the work we do.”

The new approach includes plenty of drinks and casino games like blackjack. The idea is to generate additional revenue sources, and if all goes according to plan, more than $300,000 will be raised in one night. The party will skip large dinner tables and white tablecloths in favor of a lively lounge setup with food and drink stations from the Cosmopolitan’s lineup of restaurants, including STK, Jaleo and Scarpetta. There will also be entertainment from roving magicians, acrobats and other performers.

It’s all to benefit CIS of Nevada a nonprofit organization that currently serves 58,000 students, grades K–12, in 59 schools around the state, especially in Clark County, the nation’s fifth largest school district, where resources are stretched thin. Each school has an office or “resource room” that is monitored by onsite coordinators, often recent graduates who were helped by CIS of Nevada themselves and are returning the favor. The rooms come stocked with food, clothes, school supplies and anything else a young student might need.

“Kids will come into our resource centers looking for a pen,” Lee says. “One thing leads to another and they then have an advocate and someone on the school site who is helping them with daily challenges. That makes a difference.”

There’s no limit to what might be needed. Over the course of a school year, CIS of Nevada provides anything from baby supplies, dental care, winter clothes and even prom dresses to those looking for help. Volunteers also assist at-risk kids stay on track to graduate.

Lee, who was a founding director for After-School All Stars, has been working with CIS of Nevada for more than six years. She’s familiar with the struggles that students face.

“I grew up in a big family. We didn’t have a lot and people helped me out along the way,” she says. “We’re all going up and down the ladder of opportunity in life. Sometimes you’re in a position to give a helping hand and other times you’re putting your hand out to get help.”

That’s why fundraisers like Today for Tomorrow are so vital.

“It’s a casual, upscale experience where people can mingle, gamble and more importantly, raise resources that we need to operate our program and expand it into more schools,” Lee says.  

Ticket prices range from $350–$5,000. Log on to CISNevada.org/events/today-for-tomorrow/ for information.