Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Girl Scouts Launches Hispanic Recruitment Campaign

This is a guest post by columnist, Mercedes Olivera.

When you invite a young girl and her family to check out a camp site for the summer, better be prepared for 20 members of la familia to show up – everybody from the grandparents to the aunts and uncles who want to see what la niña will be experiencing.

It’s just one example of some of the cultural challenges the Girl Scouts is finding out it must deal with as it launches a Hispanic recruitment campaign to attract young Latinas.

As part of a national rebranding effort to revitalize and update its image as it nears its 100th anniversary, the national organization recently started this outreach effort to attract more girls from the fastest-growing population in the nation.

Understanding demographics can mean the difference between growth and stagnation for many organizations. And like many advertisers and companies, the Girl Scouts have seen the new Census numbers that show Hispanic families tend to be larger than most.

They also exhibit the kind of family values that have made the Girl Scouts such a venerable household name.

It is a natural step for an organization that has a tradition of accepting girls from all backgrounds.

“We want them to know that Girls Scouts meets their values,” said Gwyneth Lloyd, chief program officer for the Hispanic Welcome Initiative of the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas.

But recruiting Hispanic girls into scouting has required an extra touch. It wasn’t simply a matter of translating its information materials into Spanish, Lloyd said.

It was far more a question of reaching out culturally.

“Rather than push the girls to get involved, we realized the need to push for families,” she said.

Like so many other issues and events in Hispanic communities, scouting is a family affair, it turns out.

Once the family gets involved, the girl does, too. And so does la mamá.

“Once the mother grasps who we are, then they absolutely show their willingness to volunteer and work with the troops,” Lloyd said.

The northeast Texas organization, which serves 35,000 girls and 16,000 adult members, is designing a welcoming initiative for Hispanic families that will launch this fall. It has already developed an interactive bilingual web site and quadrupled its bilingual staff.

In addition, it gives all new Hispanic troop leaders a set of materials that include a bilingual program manual and adult guide.

It seems to be off to a good start of reaching its goal of increasing its Hispanic membership from its current 19.6 percent to 25 percent.


For more information about the Girl Scouts' move to involve Hispanic families, take a look at this article.


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