In Scouting, one of our priorities is to reach out to young people in all neighborhoods so all kids – no matter their origin or circumstances can experience the life changing adventures, lessons, and friendships that Scouting has to offer. We know we haven’t reached everyone. But we do know from research by Baylor University that those we have reached who earn the top rank of our program – Eagle Scout – have a stronger sense of community spirit, dedication to family, and ability to lead, among other positive traits.
That’s why coverage of a recent study from the Annie E. Casey Foundation caught my attention. The study’s findings suggest that in every region of America, white and Asian children are far better positioned for success than African-American, Latino, and American Indian children.
The attention on this topic reminds us that in communities across America, we all have work to do. In each community, we can do a better job of reaching youth from all cultures so they can experience all that Scouting has to offer. We must remain diligent in that mission.
I’m encouraged by recent efforts to reach kids in underserved areas. For example, our Blue Ridge Mountain Council’s “Soccer and Scouting” program, an initiative designed to attract more Hispanic youth in Roanoke, VA, to Scouting, leverages a sport popular in Spanish-speaking countries. And in Buffalo, NY, our Greater Niagara Council is bridging the gap to African-American young men in its inner city neighborhoods through an urban camping program.
Recently, a success story from Boston was profiled by the Boston Globe, where the local councils sought to introduce urban kids to Scouting by partnering with local schools and community organizations to offer meeting places in areas where the program was previously unfamiliar. Scouting has since taken hold of the community – with more than 700 boys in roughly 25 Cub Scout packs in Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury.
But our work is not yet done. Bringing youth programs to kids in all communities will require us to understand where gaps exist, to continuously refresh our approach to provide relevant and meaningful programs, and to reach out and build relationships with new audiences.
Tell me, what are you doing in your organizations to help bridge gaps to make sure all young people have access to programs to help them learn and grow?