Greater Cleveland has joined a long list of United Way chapters that have pulled their funding from their local Boy Scouts of America Council after amending their non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation.
"When we take a look at all of the agencies we fund, the only agency that we fund that discriminates to its clients is the Boy Scouts," said Bill Kitson, President and CEO of the United Way of Greater Cleveland.
Kitson says the current annual funding to the Boy Scouts of America is nearly $100,000.
He says donors can still designate donations to the Boy Scouts if they choose to contribute to United Way. He estimates around $200,000 was given to the organization in donor designations.
"They'll (Boy Scouts of America) receive 100 percent of their contributions, minus a 13 percent administrative fee," Kitson said.
Kitson says currently on the funding list for the United Way, the Boy Scouts of America Greater Cleveland Council is the only organization that discriminates.
"We currently look at any organizations diversity policy when we make a funding decision. So, this is not an unusual move for us. The difference is adding sexual orientation to the policy," Kitson said. "We'll continue to review those (policies) to make sure the programs we fund are in compliance."
The Boy Scouts of America greater Cleveland Council released this statement in regards to United Way's decision:
"While we respect the (United Way's) right to express its opinion on this single BSA National policy, their decision will adversely impact some 1,500 low income, at-risk children in the City of Cleveland and Scouting's ability to teach vital lessons of service and leadership. With this surprising decision, our primary focus now shifts to addressing this significant gap in our budget so that we can continue providing meaningful programs to youth and the community."
The United Way of Summit County has not been affected by the decision of the United Way of Cleveland to pull funding from the Boy Scouts of America.
Vice President of Marketing and Communications Michael Gaffney tells AkronNewsNow " At this time there's no agenda here locally for us to make any decisions regarding any of our agencies and what funding they may or may not be receiving in the future."
"It doesn't make sense for us to comment on what they've decided to do. That's what they feel is in the best interest of their community and that's why each United Way is a separate organization, so they can make decisions that make the most sense for the people in their community."
Gaffney says the United Way of Summit County is entering a transition year right now between multi-year funding cycles for all of their affiliated agencies, and they'll be reviewing their policies regarding continued eligibility for United Way funding, including non-discrimination policies.
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(United Way of Cleveland - news release) The United Way of Greater Cleveland Board of Directors unanimously voted to add sexual orientation to its Equal Opportunity and Diversity Policy at its September meeting.
The policy reads as follows: United Way is an equal opportunity employer and believes culturally diverse governance structures and workforces are assets to our organization and our partner agencies. We therefore value and champion equal opportunity to all persons without regard to race, creed, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, disability or sexual orientation. This includes recruiting, training, promotion, compensation, benefits and all other factors involved in the treatment of applicants and employees.
“United Way is devoted to the well-being of our entire community. The Board of Directors expressed concern about our diversity and inclusion policy not specifically spelling out inclusion for sexual orientation,” said Paul Clark, United Way of Greater Cleveland Board chairman.
One possible consequence of this action is funding to the Boy Scouts of America, Greater Cleveland Council, could be suspended in the next funding cycle for noncompliance to the new policy. Currently, the only United Way funded agency not in compliance with the new policy is the Boy Scouts.
“United Way funds the Boy Scouts to support hundreds of youth who benefit from its programs. But the United Way Board of Directors expressed great concern over the Boy Scouts’ exclusion of youth based on sexual orientation and their recent affirmation to continue this policy,” said Clark.
“We are not telling the Boy Scouts what to do. We will not ask the Boy Scouts to change. As a private organization they have the right to determine who they serve and who will serve them. We, however, have the right to fund only those organizations that comply with our new policy,” said Bill Kitson, United Way of Greater Cleveland president and CEO.
The Boy Scouts of America, Greater Cleveland Council received $97,251 in United Way funding this year in addition to donor directed contributions.
United Way of Greater Cleveland joins a growing number of United Ways around the country in its decision to add sexual orientation to its diversity policy.