Scouts get grant for recruiting at-risk youth

April 30, 2009

Boy Scouts of America’s Blue Ridge Mountains Council has received a $45,831 Harvest Foundation grant to expand its recruiting efforts of at-risk youth in Henry County and Martinsville.

The one-year grant will go to the Martinsville-Henry County Scoutreach Program and increase its coordinator from a part-time to full-time position, according to a release from the council and Harvest.

“The Blue Ridge Mountains Council, Boy Scouts of America, is overjoyed that The Harvest Foundation has agreed to fund the Scoutreach initiative in Martinsville and Henry County,” said Dan Johnson, Scout executive for the Blue Ridge Mountains Council. “The council maintains a policy that no youth will be denied the opportunity to participate in Scouting for economic reasons, and Scoutreach is our initiative to enable low-income and at-risk youth to participate fully in Scouting. We now eagerly anticipate welcoming new participants into our Scouting programs, and helping them grow and develop as leaders in the community.”

Currently in the Martinsville area, there are a total of 400 to 500 boys involved in Scouting, Johnson said. There also are 100 at-risk youth and 29 Hispanic youth involved, Johnson said, adding that the council hopes to increase both numbers by 50 percent as a result of the Harvest grant.

The Scoutreach’s recruiting efforts will have a particular emphasis on the neighborhoods of Rivermont Heights, Brookshire Apartments, Martins Landing, Northview Gardens and Longwood Village. Boys between the ages of 7 and 18 who enroll in the program will have the chance to participate in activities that are designed to be fun and engaging, build character and teach leadership skills.

The organization also expects to establish partnerships with other organizations, such as the Salvation Army, YMCA and the Boys and Girls Clubs to expand in the area, Johnson said. It also will work with the school systems to recruit youth, he added.

“Martinsville has a strong tradition of Scouting,” Johnson said. “This will give us an opportunity to focus on an underserved population” in the area.

“By expanding the work of the coordinator, the Boy Scouts believe they will have a greater impact on boys from financially disadvantaged backgrounds in our community,” said Angela Logan, program officer for The Harvest Foundation. “Along with more participants, the Scouts hope to strengthen its outreach to positive adult role models in the community, thus providing even greater impact on the lives of these boys.”

The Blue Ridge Mountains Council operates in 21 counties in Southwest and Central Virginia, with more than 11,000 young people involved in its programs, Johnson said.

The Harvest Foundation invests in programs and initiatives in the areas of health, education, and community vitality. It was established in 2002 from the sale of the Memorial Hospital in Martinsville.


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