Atlanta Area Council Troop 100, B.E.S.T. Academy, and 100 Black Men of Atlanta

Troop 100: The Village

It takes a village to raise a child —African proverb
By Monique Taylor
 

Winter ImageTroop 100 was started in September 2007 with the belief that the best way for a young male to be cared for, educated, and raised right is for every person in the community to have a vested interest in his development into manhood. Birthed from a shared vision, a partnership between Atlanta’s new public, all-male school—the B.E.S.T. Academy—100 Black Men of Atlanta, and the Atlanta Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America was developed. Ron Coleman, a former member of 100 Black Men of Atlanta and the Atlanta Area Council Executive Board, was instrumental in bringing this vision to life and serving as the glue between the two organizations.

Below are the demographics of the community in which the B.E.S.T. Academy is housed, according to American Physical Society research:

Population: 28,730

Educational attainment:

            Percent less than high school graduate: 41.1

            Percent high school graduate or higher: 59

Employment:

            Percent not in labor force: 50.8

            Percent unemployed: 9.9

Selected household characteristics:

            Percent of grandparents responsible for grandchildren: 50.9

There is no doubt we knew the challenges we would face from the onset. However, we were all committed to removing and overcoming the barriers in order to provide a quality Scouting program to the young men we were projected to serve. These efforts would not have been possible without the commitment and support of the CEOs and board members of each of these organizations. It was identified from the beginning that it would take a lot of time, resources, and manpower to make this troop a success, but we never feared or doubted the boys’ interest in joining. We just knew we needed to be prepared to receive them, which we were and are committed to doing!

The key to the success of Troop 100 has been partnerships, along with commitment and a strong desire to provide the best program possible to our Scouts.

We started in September 2007 with 89 of the 113 sixth grade boys at B.E.S.T. Academy registered and active in Troop 100, and we have continue to register between 119 and 126 Scouts for the past three years.

As I watched the numbers grow, I knew our partnerships had to grow. I decided to first approach the school-based program with which the B.E.S.T. Academy was already partnered. In the fall of 2008, I hosted a meeting and explained how much more effective we could be if we worked as a village instead of individually. This meeting launched a successful partnership with the following organizations that provide the following services:

100 Black Men of Atlanta—Provide a $2,500 quarterly stipend to support the troop’s financial needs, assist in the troop’s yearly popcorn sale, provide speakers and merit badge counselors, provide doctors to complete the Scouts’ annual exams, and provide tickets and transportation to community events and sporting events. Several members attend summer camp to visit with the troop each year and serve on the troop committee; one member is even a committed Scoutmaster.

Afterschool All Stars—The official Tuesday afternoon program; provide Scouting with two school buses every week to transport the Scouts home after the meeting, provide snacks for the weekly meeting and meals on the Friday before all-weekend camping trips and lock-ins, provide resources to support the combined Christmas dinner and program, give tickets to sporting and community events, and provide guest speakers.

Community and schools—For the registered case members, they provide support with registration, funding and snacks for trips and outings, and transportation. For the entire troop, they provide haircuts, event tickets, and leadership support for merit badges.

PTA and parent-school liaison—They provide parental support and assistance, and transportation for holiday functions and weekend activities. The parent liaison organizes our community service activities for the troop.

Teachers and administrators—Teachers serve as merit badge counselors and are registered on our troop committee. Both teachers and administrators participate in board of reviews and are always willing to serve as an additional chaperone on school or Scouting outings.

Football, track, and basketball programs—The coaches assist with leadership and Project C.O.P.E. activities, and are registered merit badge counselors. They also work with the Scouting schedule, offering understanding and support to Scouts who participate in sporting programs, and allow them to attend the Scout meeting first on Tuesdays and then go to practice.

These partnerships would not be possible without the commitment of the Atlanta Area Council leaders and board. Outside of my commitment, Don McChesney formed a friendship with John Grant, the CEO of 100 Black Men of Atlanta. He committed himself to attending all of the annual events hosted by 100 Black Men of Atlanta, and never missed a troop event that he was invited to attend. Upon his appointment, Scout Executive Tracy Techau stepped in and has continued to maintain a strong relationship with the organization’s leaders, and has visited the school and attended the troop’s spring court of honor. Over the past three years, several board members have attended troop events and visited them at camp, including Joe Arnold of SunTrust Bank and an Atlanta Area Council board member, who has supported the troop in all capacities since day one.

Partnerships are an extremely important part of the success of your program! Please remember to instantly recognize the contributions of your partners to the organization and your troops. A thank-you card and a picture from the Scouts work the best.