Friday, May 20, 2016

Girl Scouts, Educators, Members of Congress Rally for Title IV, Part A Funding at U.S. Capitol

On May 18, against the backdrop of the US Capitol, Girl Scouts, educators, a high school choir and Members of Congress rallied to demand that Congress fully fund Title IV, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Authorized at $1.65 billion in ESSA, Title IV, Part A is a flexible block grant that is intended to provide school districts with funds to support well-rounded academic programs. Girl Scouts is part of the Title IV, Part A Coalition, a group comprised of more than 75 national non-profit groups, working to ensure that this program is funded at the fully authorized amount.

Girl Scout Ambassador Richa Gupta, from Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital, spoke at the event and shared her thoughts on her experience:

I’ve been a Girl Scout for almost eleven years now, having joined when I was six years old,, and it has become as much a part of me as any personality trait. To me, and so many others, Girl Scouts is more than just about cookie sales and cute uniforms. It has given us opportunities to grow and succeed in community service and other fields that spark our interest. For me personally, Girl Scouts let me connect with other girls in my community when I moved to a totally new nation. It gave me the confidence to take leadership positions in my school and my community. It is what inspired me to achieve my Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouting, when I created a computer lab and provided technological training for intellectually disabled students in a school in India. Without Girl Scouts I may not have gained so many leadership and life experiences that help me so much today. At the end of the day, Girl Scouts allowed me to just be me.

And that is the biggest reason that I was so excited to speak at Capitol Hill this week to support Title IV, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act. So many amazing people from Girl Scouts and other organizations have worked so hard to ensure funding for all the important activities for students around the country. Girl Scouts has been such a huge part of my life, and I hope we can continue to support and enlarge the program to reach more and more girls. Everyone deserves the chance to participate in Girl Scouts, STEM activities, music programs, and other activities, regardless of where they live or how big their parents’ bank account is. We need to support our girls, and our future, through the funding that this bill will provide. Even the smallest actions can make huge differences, and this is no small action.

In December 2015, President Barack Obama signed ESSA into law, which governs the nation’s public education system. Girl Scouts worked with other nonprofit youth-serving organizations to lobby Congress to include language encouraging local school districts to engage community-based groups, such as Girl Scouts, in providing students out-of-school programs that complement in-class instruction.

The language in Title IV, Part A provides funds for local education agencies to partner with community organizations to provide students with access to a well-rounded education, including among other topics: STEM and financial literacy with a focus on college planning. Girl Scouts’ evidence-based programming can serve as a great way to complement in-class instruction, especially in the areas of STEM, environmental education, bullying prevention, and financial literacy related to college planning.