One America Community Efforts
Little Bar

Program: Rio Hondo Project, San Gabriel Valley Council, Boy Scouts of America, Pasadena, CA
Contact(s): Ron Schoenmehl, Finance Director: (626) 351-8815
Purpose: To eliminate barriers and hurdles in program delivery, which hamper the participation of underserved youth in the Boy Scouts of America

Background Program Operations Outcomes


In 1997, the San Gabriel Valley Council, Boy Scouts of America (SGVC) identified low participation by minority youth in Scouting as a long range planning issue. For example, Hispanic youth comprise 62 percent of the local population, but only 12 percent of Scout membership. A study was conducted and identified financial concerns, adults and youth with limited English skills, and cultural unfamiliarity with Scouting as obstacles to participation. Later called the Rio Hondo Project, a plan was implemented to develop a clear understanding of the community, remove barriers in traditional delivery methods and increase overall participation.

Program Operations

To overcome barriers to reaching underserved youth, the Rio Hondo Project continues to develop a clear understanding of the community, its special circumstances, and unique characteristics. The identified obstacles to participation are individually addressed. The financial obstacles that limit participation are dealt with by providing uniforms and scholarships as youth enter the program. Leadership for the project has been recruited from the community. Parents and other volunteers are recruited, trained, and equipped with program skills to deliver the Cub, Scout, and Explorer programs locally. Interns from community colleges are made available and leadership-training institutes are held for Scouts in high schools. Also, adults receive monthly training in Spanish, English, Chinese and other languages as needed to give them a personal comfort level in the technical skills and components of the program. To reach more youth, summer camp programs are provided and opportunities to become involved in Scouting activities are available year-round. Scholarships ensure that every interested youth can attend a Cub Day Camp or Boy Scout Resident Camp, without regard to their financial ability. Existing youth programs, such as the Monte Vista Elementary School in El Monte, have added traditional Scouting as part of their curriculum. Scout leaders join with existing program staff to deliver activities, train parents, and help the youth attain personal rank advancements. Families who are not culturally familiar with Scouting participate in the Soccer Scouting Program. The character building, citizenship training, and personal fitness components of Scouting are incorporated into this sports program.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

Response to after-school Scouting was enthusiastic. One hundred-forty children have been enrolled in the program; an 11 percent increase. Summer camp and day camp programs have been well attended with a 12 percent growth in attendance. Soccer Scouting was initiated and is still being developed. Upwards of 75 leaders each month receive adult education in Scouting programs in Spanish. This program is funded by two grants. The Rose Hills and Rio Hondo Foundation provided a three-year grant of $150,000 each year. The Weingart Foundation provided a two-year grant of $100,000. This financial support has been crucial to the project.

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