Friday, Aug. 28, 2009 | 2:09 a.m.
In what promises to have great benefits for Nevadans, the Lincy Foundation, which was created by billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, is giving UNLV $14 million to help improve the state’s quality of life.
The money will go toward establishing the Lincy Institute, which will work with a variety of nonprofit groups involved in education, health care and social services to find and win grants.
As Emily Richmond reported in Wednesday’s Las Vegas Sun, the institute is expected to look at ways to provide funding and programs to address health care, education, homelessness and suicide prevention, among other issues.
The need is obvious. The state repeatedly ranks poorly on a number of quality-of-life indicators. For years politicians have debated the issues, tussling over what the public wants or needs. The fear in Carson City of making big changes — and potentially alienating some voters — has resulted in a political inertia that has done little to improve Nevada’s quality of life.
For example, a recent Brookings Institution report noted that Nevada needs significant funding to upgrade infrastructure and services to support growth.
The Lincy Institute, which will include an academic component and research, could be the start of something great.
UNLV President Neal Smatresk noted that the design of the institute “brings together the resources of the university in partnership with nonprofit agencies to tackle problems in a focused, cohesive manner.”
Smatresk touches on a critical point — it will take more than the university and the institute to make change. The entire community must be involved. Governments, nonprofit groups, businesses and political leaders all need to work together.
Quality of life is not a partisan issue, nor is it necessarily ideological. It is a matter that affects every Nevadan, and it needs to be improved.