The Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation‘s monthly $1,000 mini-grant was awarded to Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan (GSHOM) on December 4, 2016, for a November conference on supporting the inclusion of transgender girls in Girl Scouts.
GSHOM is based in Ypsilanti and serves Girl Scouts in 34 counties across the Lower Peninsula. It has worked diligently to ensure transgender girls are welcomed into all Girl Scout activities. GSHOM has begun to develop facilities (non-gender specific bath and private changing areas at camps and regional headquarters) and changing signage to accommodate transgender girls in a way they will feel safe and well cared for.
The national Girl Scout organization has embraced this issue, and across the country, Councils are challenged with providing support materials and information for implementation that fit their local and regional needs. GSHOM has reached out to the national organization and others for support materials for staff and leaders to be able to advocate for and communicate around issues transgender girls face, and find real ways Girl Scouts can provide meaningful experiences in their lives. Resources specific to orienting and educating Girl Scout volunteers on ways to best transition girls into troops and other Girl Scout offerings need to be developed, and GSHOM seeks to springboard this development, creating much-needed educational sessions and leading from a grassroots position.
GSHOM’s initial effort was to engage Girl Scout leadership from across the country and local youth-serving organizations in education and planning sessions through a three-day “Supporting Inclusiveness in Girl Scouts” summit held in November. The summit included a keynote speaker, plenary session, and a series of workshops. Retired U.S. Army Colonel Diane Schroer, nationally recognized as a pioneer in transgender issues, delivered the keynote address.
The Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation is the Ann Arbor chapter of the Boston-based micro-philanthropic organization known as the Awesome Foundation. Each fully autonomous chapter supports awesome projects through micro-grants, usually given out monthly. These micro-grants, $1000 or the local equivalent, come out of pockets of the chapter’s “trustees” and are given on a no-strings-attached basis to people and groups working on awesome projects.