PHOENIX (April 30, 2014) – The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation has awarded $288,000 to Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council to sustain and expand the capacity of the Girl Scouts Beyond Bars (GSBB) program. Girl Scouts Beyond Bars, a groundbreaking prevention program, empowers girls to not only reconnect with their imprisoned mothers, but also break the intergenerational cycle of incarceration.
In Arizona, 96,000 children have a parent in jail or prison on any given day. These children are among the most vulnerable populations at-risk. Ashamed and often isolated these children are 5-7 times more likely to end up behind bars themselves.
Girl Scouts Beyond Bars helps girls bond with their incarcerated mothers to decrease the impact of parental separation during critical development years. Girls get to see their mothers regularly and work with them on activities that are designed to help develop leadership skills, build confidence and encourage healthy decision-making. Through this shared Girl Scouting experience the program nurtures, and in some cases reestablishes, mother-daughter relationships. Additionally, girls participate in a troop, which provides opportunities to build supportive friendships with other young women in similar circumstances.
Girls with incarcerated parents may face unique obstacles, but through GSBB they are simply Girl Scouts. They participate in traditional Girl Scout leadership experiences, like earning badges, selling cookies and going to camp, and are supported by dedicated staff and volunteers.
Girl Scouts Beyond Bars, offered at no cost to girls ages 5-17, meets every Saturday; alternately visiting with their moms inside prison walls and attending troop meetings in the community. In 2013, GSBB served 75 girls and their mothers. With this grant, Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council (GSACPC) plans to increase GSBB’s reach to 100 girls and their mothers, train 25-50 more volunteers and hold the program year-round.
“By investing in preventative programs (like GSBB) to create healthier families and communities, cycles can be broken and many of the tragedies facing girls today can be averted,” said Tamara Woodbury, GSACPC CEO. “We are so grateful to have the backing of Bob and Renee Parsons who see the value of Girl Scouting and its long-term impact on girls.”
“Bob and I believe that Girls Scouts is one of the most forward-thinking organizations focused on issues that impact women and girls,” said philanthropist Renee Parsons. “Programs like Girls Scouts Beyond Bars inspire a sense of self-worth, potential and most importantly hope, which we believe is critical to building a healthier future for our state.”
Girl Scouting has been a powerful force in the lives of millions of girls – instilling in them increased self-confidence in their decision-making abilities and their capacity to become strong leaders in their own lives and communities. According to Girl Scouting Works: The Alumnae Impact Study, conducted by The Girl Scout Research Institute, Girl Scouts are more likely to graduate from high school and seek higher education, be more engaged in volunteer service in their communities, and are more likely to vote and seek positions of leadership, than their peers.
GSACPC’s GSBB program was established in 1994 as a partnership with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. Mothers are recruited through the Arizona Department of Corrections-Perryville Prison and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office-Estrella Jail to participate in the program, and are required to attend parenting classes facilitated by GSACPC.
Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council (GSACPC) is Arizona’s leading organization dedicated to building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. In partnership with more than 11,000 adult volunteers, GSACPC serves 24,000 girls grades k-12 in more than 90 communities across central and northern Arizona. Dince 1936, GSACPC has helped girls develop leadership skills and tools for success in a rapidly changing environment. We know that given the opportunity, every girl can become a leader, act confidently on her values, and connect with her community. Girl Scouts helps young women grow courageous and strong through girl-driven programs, ranging from product sales, troop activities and special events.
The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation inspires hope by providing critical funding at critical times to communities striving to make a difference. The Foundation primarily focuses on issues in the greater Phoenix area. The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation believes every person is entitled to an education, good nutrition, medical care, a stress-free, happy environment and the hope that they too, will share in the American Dream. The Foundation provides funding to non-profit organizations that are successfully addressing these essential needs. The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation is also committed to the children of Haiti, helping to grow and improve schools, medical services and overall well-being for communities in rural Haiti through the Hope for Haiti organization.