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Sunday, January 25, 2004

Boy Scouts, United Way committed to helping children



By Tracy Techau and Rob Reifsnyder
Guest columnists

As executive directors of the Dan Beard Council, Boy Scouts of America and the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, respectively, we would like to publicly and jointly comment on the heightened awareness of the relationship between our organizations as a result of the Jan. 15 column by Peter Bronson ("United Way tells Scouts to take a hike").

We should start by clearly recognizing that the United Way has a long history of supporting one of the community's most valued organizations, the Boy Scouts. Second, the mission of each remains focused on strengthening and supporting our community and its young people.

Since 1996, United Way has increased its efforts to ensure that the community resources entrusted to it are spent wisely and in ways that produce the very best results for our community. To accomplish this, United Way, led by volunteers, has developed priority goals for helping children, families and neighborhoods.

United Way has worked with agencies to develop results measurement and continuous improvement tools to help make sure the funded programs are achieving the results desired. United Way offered extensive training and one-on-one consultation to help agencies develop measures of how many people they serve and whether the people being served benefited.

It is true that there were reductions in United Way funding of Boy Scout programs in 2002 and 2003. While the Boy Scouts and the United Way disagree about appropriateness of the cuts, both organizations agree that these cuts were not made rashly: they stem from a combination of economic challenges that affected the annual United Way campaign and from years of difficulty coming to common agreement on results measurements for the Boy Scouts. There has been no discussion with the Boy Scouts about any other issues, nor were there any other reasons for the reductions.

United Way and the Boy Scouts have been working together to identify mutually acceptable results measures. During the most recent calendar year, the United Way and the Scouts agreed on the results to be measured in the Boy Scout programs. As a result, United Way agreed to maintain the 2003 allocated amount at the same level for calendar year 2004, a very significant portion of the annual Boy Scout budget.

Both organizations are now focusing on the future. Both organizations strive to provide the highest level of accountability for the donations they receive and for the trust that has been granted to them by this community. Both organizations, with a funding relationship that dates to 1919, are pleased to be moving forward in a positive direction.

We want the community to know that we are each committed to programs that help children move toward responsible adulthood and that both organizations believe in the importance of prevention programs.

Donors who change their United Way contributions based on the recent column will hurt the programs of more than 150 United Way-funded agencies. It is our hope that people in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky will continue to support, through United Way, the Boy Scouts and all the fine service providers that help to improve our community.

Tracy Techau, Scout executive president, Dan Beard Council, Boy Scouts of America

Rob Reifsnyder, United Way of Greater Cincinnati



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