By: Daniel A. Templar
Scout Executive and Chief Executive Officer
Cradle of Liberty Council, Boy Scouts of America
We’ve all seen the statistics: Philadelphia has the highest poverty rate among the nation’s 10 largest cities. Among children under the age of 12, 63 percent are living in poverty or low-income situations.
Organizations and individuals across the city are working to do more for these children and families, to give them shelter, safe places, food security, and resources. Equally important is providing programs and engaged adults to teach critical skills and foster inspiration and confidence that help children see a different path for themselves and keep them actively engaged in their education. Scouting programs have been offering this to millions of youth for more than a century.
The Scouts will continue to offer its character-building, life-changing programs to more than 16,500 youth, including nearly 4,000 in the city of Philadelphia. Approximately 1,700 of these young minds in grades K to 12 participate in after-school Scouting programs in nearly 50 schools in some of the city’s most economically depressed neighborhoods. Through a new $20,000 per year, three-year grant from the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, we intend to keep more than 250 young people in grades 5 through 9 engaged in school through our time-tested Scouting programs. Scouting provides them with the academic and positive social-emotional support they need during this critical period and leadership skills that will last a lifetime. Merit badges earned during the program inspire learning and reveal various career paths.
By helping young people explore what they love and discover new interests, Scouting stokes their imagination and curiosity, celebrates their achievements and diversity, fosters character traits like personal responsibility, respect, and kindness, and has the ability to change lives for the better. It also helps them stay connected to school and achieve better grades. These are experiences that our city’s children need now more than ever.
Helping children, one by one, to see a productive path forward for themselves is something we should all be a part of to once and for all break the cycle of poverty in Philadelphia.