Opportunity an Issue in the Nevada Primary•
This week the Republican nominating process headed west to Nevada. Nevada’s 125 caucuses find themselves at a critical juncture as the candidates continue to establish themselves to the voters. The caucuses will be held this Saturday, February 4th, and be open only to registered Republican voters.
There’s no doubt that Nevadans are eager to participate in this process and have their opinions heard on the current state on Nevada. The Opportunity Index (www.opportunityindex.org) sheds light on the many issues facing Nevada residents. Unemployment is approaching 14%, educational opportunities are withering, and over a hundred thousand homeowners have either lost their homes or are facing foreclosure. These are the issues that Nevada residents confront everyday, and which will occupy the minds of caucus-goers this weekend.
Opportunity Nation and its grassroots leaders are working tirelessly to make the impact in Nevada that will create accessible opportunity across the state. Jose Melendrez, co-founder of the Nevada Alliance for Latin@ Education and Justice, as well as the Hispanic Institute for Political Empowerment (HIPE), is generating educational opportunities that will elevate youth throughout Clark County. As an educator and OpportunityNation grassroots leader, Melendrez provides valuable insight into the challenges currently facing Nevada.
HIPE recently hosted the first of its “Empowerment Series,” aimed at developing a “group of leaders interested in civic engagement” and demonstrating in clear terms “how you do it,” according to Melendrez. With Nevada facing massive education cuts, these programs seek to provide the opportunity where it has been disappearing the past few years.
The Opportunity Index has been utilized as a powerful tool to illuminate these challenges and find the first steps toward a solution. Melendrez describes the Index as “a way to engage politicians, who need to be aware of those issues taking place in our backyard” throughout each and every county, not just portraying the dramatic and abstract perspective of the entire nation.
“You can drive around the city and see that lots of the businesses have closed their doors…This is our situation,” puts Melendrez bluntly. The upcoming caucus may provide a brief spotlight to unemployment and the housing crisis here, but without a leader like Jose Melendrez pursuing the growth of opportunity on behalf of his community, the pledges and promises of politicians will fall short. “It’s not about Republicans or Democrats,” Melendrez says, “it’s about us as Nevadans pulling our state together and moving forward.”