Girl Scouts ‘Get REAL!’ program produces results, but funding is in jeopardy
Girl Scouts are launching Cookies to Health Heroes initiative to support health care workers and first responders. Image via Tallahassee Democrat.

A tight budget year could threaten the program.

For more than 100 years, Girl Scouts have demonstrated resilience, learned the skills, embraced the experiences, and cultivated the sisterhood that help them impact their communities today and accomplish big things tomorrow.

In this time of uncertainty, the Girl Scout mission continues. In fact, more than ever, girls need Girl Scouts.

Girl Scouts of Florida is up to the challenge. The organization aims to keep helping middle school age girls who are struggling with upended routines and shifting school formats by continuing its “Get REAL!” program, which connects girls with positive, caring adults to help them boost their grades and build social positive skills.

Get REAL! connects girls with mentors at their school or community center, to provide them with programming focused on four components: improving reading skills, life skills, community care projects and enhancement programs.

Girls who could benefit most from the program are identified and referred through their school guidance counselors, teachers, or site directors at community centers.

With the generous funding from Florida Department of Education, in 2021, Girl Scouts hope to impact the lives of 900 girls across Florida by participating in at least 30 sessions of mentoring throughout the school year.

Studies show that programs like Get REAL! are critical to setting up girls for success in life.

The Search Institute found that youth who receive support from adults other than their parent and have adult role models who demonstrate positive, responsible behaviors perform better in school, are less likely to engage in a wide range of high-risk behaviors, and are more likely to thrive.

Parents agree. In 2014, 83% of parents with a child in an afterschool program told Afterschool Alliance that programs like Get REAL! reduce the likelihood that youth will engage in risky behaviors, such as commit a crime, use drugs or become a teen parent.

Early teen pregnancy, drug use, violence, peer pressure and family instability can lead to girls dropping out of school, and those who do so are more likely to find themselves unemployed, underemployed or incarcerated down the road.

The Girl Scouts says Get REAL! has a track record of producing results. More than 600 Duval County girls participated in the program last year, and 96% of them were promoted to the next grade level on time.

Also, more than nine out of 10 passed their English or Language Arts course; were absent less than 21 days; saw a drop in behavioral referrals or suspensions; earned a C or better; and completed a community service project.

However, a tight budget year could threaten the program. Currently, the Girl Scouts are fully funded in the House, which has set aside $267,630 for the organization. But the Senate budget would cut funding by $40,000.

Girl Scouts of Florida says that now more than ever, it needs Department of Education support to keep the Get REAL! program rolling.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


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