United Way: No Boy Scouts
After months of consideration, Capitol Area Boy Scouts has decided to abandon its "partnership" status -- which enabled it to receive direct grants from the United Way's Community Investment Fund -- effective June 30, 2004. (Individual contributors will still be able to designate their United Way donations for the Boy Scouts.) The national Boy Scouts of America has legally defended its right as a private organization to prohibit the membership of openly gay scouts or scout leaders -- or what it calls "avowed homosexuals." The U.S. Supreme Court upheld this right in 2000. Since that decision, the relationship between the Boy Scouts and United Way affiliates in a number of cities has been strained or severed, but BSA policy has not changed. This year in Philadelphia, the national organization required a local BSA council to reverse a nondiscrimination policy it had briefly adopted.
Representatives of both Central Texas organizations are careful to describe the decision as an amicable separation, based on mutual agreement and respect. The Capitol Area Council of the BSA is currently receiving $157,000 in a direct United Way partnership grant through June 2004 (plus additional funding through designated individual donations), but has decided not to reapply for partnership status in the current funding cycle for the next fiscal year. On Wednesday, the United Way board agreed to provide one year of "transitional" funding to the BSA while it seeks to establish alternative sources of funds.
In announcing the change, Clarke Heidrick of United Way Capital Area said, "This decision was reached with the best interest of the entire community in mind. ... Those who wish to continue to support Boy Scouts with their United Way gift may do so by designating their pledge to Scouting." Bruce Walcutt of the Capitol Area Council of the BSA said, "Out of respect for our friends at United Way, its inclusiveness policy, and the people we serve, our board believes that it is in the best interest of our community to move forward and replace the United Way funding from other sources."
Heidrick said the United Way's inclusiveness policy is the result of nearly two years of internal organizational dialogue as well as research and interviews in the community. A task force was appointed to study the issue in early 2002, and its proposed change in eligibility criteria to reflect the new inclusiveness policy was adopted by the United Way board last spring. "We are one community, and we raise money from the entire community," Heidrick said. "We want to serve the entire community." Walcutt said that while he does not expect the national debate over the Boy Scouts policy to end, the local BSA "doesn't want to spend a lot of energy on negativity. ... All we have control over is how our two organizations respond to this situation, and I think that sets Austin apart, and reflects our strong sense of community."
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE EMBARGOED UNTIL 11/13/2003
The Full Statement Released by United Way and the Boy Scouts of America
Jan M. Hames
United Way Capital Area
512-472-6267 ext. 208
Capitol Area Council, BSA
512-926-6363 ext. 21
United Way Capital Area and Capitol Area Council, Boy Scouts of America Change Relationship
Resolution Supports Common Goal of Promoting the Community's Best Interest
AUSTIN, Texas--November 13, 2003--Capitol Area Council, Boy Scouts of America and United Way Capital Area jointly announced today that effective July 1, 2004 the Capitol Area Council, Boy Scouts of America will no longer be a partner agency of United Way Capital Area. The reason for the change developed from inconsistencies between the local United Way's inclusiveness policy and the policies of the Boy Scouts of America regarding the organization's rules on membership and volunteer leadership standards.
Because the Capitol Area Council, Boy Scouts of America no longer meets the criteria to receive funding, and to resolve this issue without confrontation, the Boy Scouts will not apply to be a United Way Capital Area partner for the year beginning July 1, 2004. The Boy Scouts will continue as a full partner, receiving $157,436 in partner allocations, through June 30, 2004. United Way Capital Area will provide transition funding to the local council for one year beyond that, through June 30, 2005. The amount of the transition funding will be in the same amount as for the current fiscal year, adjusted to reflect any change in the amount of funds available for partner allocations from United Way Capital Area.
This outcome resulted from several months of open dialogue between the two organizations, community leaders and the United Way's community volunteer board and Inclusiveness Committee. The decisions coincided with the beginning of United Way's application process for the next funding cycle. All United Way partner agencies must reapply for funding every two years. Organizations are required to meet specific criteria to gain or retain their status as a partner agency.
"Even though Austin is a culturally diverse city, it still has a strong sense of community, which is why our two organizations share common membership and goals," said Bruce Walcutt, president of the Capitol Area Council, Boy Scouts of America. "However, it is apparent that our policies do not overlap on this one issue. Out of respect for our friends at United Way, its inclusiveness policy and the people we serve, our board believes that it is in the best interest of our community to move forward and replace the United Way funding from other sources."
"We believe that the Capitol Area Council, Boy Scouts of America is an excellent organization that provides a tremendous service to the youth of our community," said Clarke Heidrick, chairman of the board of United Way Capital Area. "The Scouts in Central Texas have conducted themselves with extreme honor in the manner in which they have dealt with this difficult issue. Their focus throughout the process has been on what is best for the kids, what is best for Scouts and what is best for United Way.'
A task force comprising community volunteers and United Way volunteers developed the United Way's inclusiveness policy. The policy was implemented over a two-year period by United Way Capital Area staff and volunteers as part of the organization's strategic planning process and is aligned with the needs of the community it serves.
The agreement reached between United Way Capital Area and the Boy Scouts ensures that pledges made to United Way as part of the 2003 campaign will support the transition funding for the Boy Scouts. Additionally, donations designated to the Scouts in the United Way's campaigns will continue to be honored.
"The United Way provides a valuable service to the Austin community and we know that with our cooperation in dealing with this issue, we are enabling both organizations to stay focused on the needs of our citizens," said Walcutt. "We are proud of our long association with the United Way and we wish them continued success with their mission."
"This decision was reached with the best interest of the entire community in mind," said Heidrick. "We recognize the great contribution and service that the Boy Scouts provides for Austin, and are confident that the Scouts respect what we do. Those who wish to continue to support Boy Scouts with their United Way gift may do so by designating their pledge to Scouting."
The agreement reached between United Way Capital Area and the Capitol Area Council, BSA is limited to those two organizations. The local council continues to be a parker agency of Georgetown Area United Way, United Way of Hays County and United Way of Greater Williamson County, all of which are separate and autonomous organizations.
About Capitol Area Council, Boy Scouts of America
The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America--incorporated on February 8, 1910, and chartered by Congress in 1916--is to provide an educational program for boys and young adults to build character, to train in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and to develop personal fitness. It is the mission of the Boy Scouts of America to prepare young people to make ethical choices over their lifetimes by instilling in the values of the Scout Oath and Law. The Capitol Area Council, which began in 1912, covers 15 counties in Central Texas and annually has over 7,000 adult volunteer leaders and serves nearly 25,000 co-ed youth through the programs of Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venturing, Exploring and Learning for Life. It is launching a new initiative called Scoutreach to better meet the needs of youth in East and South Austin. For more information, visit www.bsacac.org
About United Way Capital Area
Established in 1924, United Way Capital Area is the largest non-governmental funder of health and human service agencies in Central Texas. Selected by community volunteers, its 44 partner agencies help address the most pressing issues in the community-- Children and Families, Life Basics, Safe Communities, Health and Wellness, and Learning Steps. The Volunteer Center, a United Way service, connects people and organizations to community volunteer opportunities. United Ways in Central Texas support the 2-1-1 Texas South Central call center, an information and referral service. For more information,
2-1-1 Texas is a public/private partnership of the United Ways in Central Texas and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.