From The Atlantic:
Girl Scouts: Still Mostly White
The 104-year-old organization is having trouble recruiting black and Latina kids. Why?
ALEXIA FERNÁNDEZ CAMPBELL 10:00 AM ET NEXT AMERICA: COMMUNITIES
Hillary Clinton. Madeleine Albright. Sandra Day O’Connor. These powerful women have all shaped the course of the United States. And they have something else in common: They were all Girl Scouts.
The girls’ leadership organization has more than 2 million current scouts and 59 million living alumnae. Nearly half of all American women have been Girl Scouts at some point in their lives. Their uniforms, badges, and cookies are synonymous with what it means to be an American girl. Or at least a white, suburban American girl.
Girl Scouts has been losing members for more than a decade as it struggles to reach the new American girl, who is more likely than ever to be an ethnic minority or come from poor, immigrant families. Unlike many scouts who followed in their mother’s footsteps, these girls and their parents have few connections to the 104-year-old organization. And the Girl Scouts can’t seem to find enough volunteers to lead troops for all the girls on the waiting list.
Declining membership is hardly unique to the Girl Scouts—membership in most youth groups is down. To stay relevant, the Girls Scouts has revamped its outdoor-oriented programs to include STEM activities and financial-literacy education. It has also made an aggressive push to reach underserved communities, meaning poorer, ethnic minorities.
It hired its first Latina CEO in 2011 and local councils began organizing all-Spanish-speaking scout troops. Most program materials are also available in Spanish. You’d be hard-pressed to find a photo on its website that doesn’t prominently show a smiling African American or Hispanic girl. …
Even though the organization’s researchers have highlighted the need to reflect the “changing face of girls” in America, Girl Scouts are still mostly white. The percentage of Latina scouts (12 percent) and African American scouts (11 percent) has hardly budged in the past four years, according to annual data released by the organization. (About 12 percent of scouts chose not to report their race.) Meanwhile, nearly half of girls aged 5 to 17 in the United States are now ethnic minorities, up from 38 percent in 2000. About one in four girls is Latina.
Scouting, going back to Baden Powell and the Boer War, is a very Anglo thing, involving volunteering, nature, citizenship, conservation, and so forth. In recent decades, the Girl Scouts have been highly feminist.
As Harvard professor Robert “Bowling Alone” Putnam discovered to his horror 15 years, none of this appeals much to Mexicans.