Diversity & Inclusion: Reaching All Girls
Serving girls in economically distressed neighborhoods has been part of the Girl Scout landscape for over 50 years. Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast’s innovative program delivery strategies ensure the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) is available to all girls, providing the tools and financial support needed to help them build courage, confidence, and character. They, in turn, learn to improve their schools and neighborhoods, develop an understanding of their important place in a complex world, and learn to practice everday leadership.
As social and academic challenges to girls increase, particularly in low-income neighborhoods, the opportunities for co-curricular and after-school enrichment activities through schools continue to decline. These cutbacks are especially severe in our lowest-income areas and most troubling in light of research showing that well-run youth development programs like Girl Scouts have huge benefits.
The Girl Scout Promise Program brings the power of Girl Scouting to girls living in the most at-risk communities in southeastern Wisconsin. These communities include central city neighborhoods in Milwaukee as well as areas in Racine and Kenosha. Girls living in these communities are at the greatest risk for long-term negative outcomes such as intergenerational poverty, lack of educational attainment, and long lasting negative health problems.
Specially-trained Girl Scout staff guide and inspire girls’ leadership journeys, providing them with early, pivotal experiences that prepare them to navigate the challenges and critical decisions that arise in later years. The Girl Scout Promise Program encompasses many different pathways of participation that occur year-round and also provides financial assistance, bilingual materials and specially-trained volunteers and staff to lead girls with customized curriculum. Girls are able to participate in out-of-school-time staff-led Girl Scout troops, middle school series programs, summer workshops, camp experiences, and Girls of Summer softball.
Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast serves more than 5,500 girls annually through the Girl Scout Promise Program.
Family connection is a strong value among Latino families that is shared by the Girl Scouts organization. In Girl Scouts, troop leaders have traditionally been mothers of participants. That is why our Latina Initiative places intense focus on recruiting moms as well as girls to participate in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.
Girl Scouts is not a tradition widely recognized in the Latino community—especially in homes where parents are first generation Americans. To better serve these girls and moms, we have developed a plan that modifies traditional Girl Scout programs, events, and curriculum to align with the unique cultural values and language needs of the community.
Our bilingual staff works hard to reach out to Latina moms and other women in the Hispanic community to recruit them as Girl Scout leaders and volunteers. We then provide the bilingual training, guidance and support that these volunteers need to be successful. One of the things that is so exciting about this program is that it offers mothers and daughters the opportunity to develop new leadership skills together. This model also builds trust among other parents as they see that the adult leadership in Girl Scouts is grassroots: reflecting the values of and coming from within their own community.
Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast serves approximately 700 girls annually though the Latina Initiative.