Intel explains Boy Scout funding policy

Posted on: October 2nd, 2012 by Andy Birkey 2 Comments

Intel has revealed new details about its plan to exclude organizations that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation from its corporate giving, a move that could cost some Boy Scout troops thousands of dollars in donations.

Meanwhile, the activist whose campaign helped pressure Intel into announcing the plan has turned his attention to UPS, another of the Scouts’ corporate backers.

In an interview last week with The American Independent, Intel’s foundation explained that it will require all recipients — including individual Boy Scout troops and councils — to sign a letter agreeing to comply with the company’s non-discrimination policy, which bars funding for any group that discriminates based sexual orientation.

In September, a TAI report showed that the company had given $700,000 to various Boy Scout groups in 2010 through its “Intel Involved” volunteer matching grant program — despite the Scouts’ policy excluding gays and lesbians.

Zach Wahls of Scouts for Equality subsequently launched a petition drive calling on Intel to halt donations until the Boy Scouts reversed their exclusionary policy. That petition drive spurred Intel to issue a statement indicating that its foundation had already decided to apply “new rigor” to its grant-making process to ensure that all recipients complained with its non-discrimination policy.

On Wednesday, Wahls launched a similar campaign against UPS, which donated $167,000 to the Boy Scout in 2010 and about $85,000 in 2011. As of Monday, Wahls’ petition had nearly 14,000 signatures.

In an earlier interview, a UPS spokesperson told TAI that the Boy Scouts’ reaffirmation of its discriminatory policy “has not and will not impact The UPS Foundation’s decision to provide funding to BSA although we evaluate each funding request on an individual basis.”

In Intel’s case, the company’s donations to various Boy Scout entities appeared to clash with its own policies regarding its volunteer matching program, which donates funds to charities based on employees’ volunteer hours. According to its website, the foundation disqualifies “organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, veteran, or disability statuses” from the grant program.

TAI’s original report included several comments from Intel Foundation executive director Wendy Ramage-Hawkins:

When asked about the Intel’s funding policies, Intel Foundation executive director Wendy Ramage-Hawkins told TAI via email: “All organizations seeking financial support from the Intel Foundation are required to affirm their compliance with Intel’s non-discrimination corporate donation policy. Organizations that cannot affirm their compliance will not receive funding from the Intel Foundation.”

Intel wouldn’t say whether or not it would continue to fund the Boy Scouts.

“We will know if and when they affirm our non-discrimination policy and request our support,” Ramage-Hawkins said.

She later clarified that the Intel Foundation will be asking for a statement of agreement with their nondiscrimination policy in the next grant cycle but had not done so in the past.

“We have not previously asked for affirmation, so this will be the first time the question is raised,” she said.

Shortly after Wahls launched the petition drive to urge Intel to end donations the Boy Scouts until they ended their exclusionary policy, Intel sent a statement to Think Progress.

“In an effort to recognize our employees commitment to the communities we call home, Intel expanded its volunteer matching grants program in 2009,” Intel’s Chief Diversity Officer, Rosalind Hudnell said. “Through it, Intel matches the amount of time employees’ volunteer with non-profits with dollars from the Intel Foundation. Due to significant growth in the number of organizations funded, earlier this year we revisited our policies associated with the program, and applied new rigor that requires any organization to confirm that it adheres to Intel’s anti-discrimination policy in order to receive funding.”

TAI asked Intel Spokesman Chuck Mulloy what that “new rigor” looks like.

Mulloy said that individual Boy Scout troops that participate in the volunteer matching program will be contacted to ensure that they follow Intel’s non-discrimination policy.

“We want them to acknowledge that they have read and will comply with the non-discrimination policy,” he said. “For example, let’s say Troop 222 is going to get funded. They will get a letter that says, ‘You understand — and your organization will comply with — the non-discrimination policy.’”

If the troop does not sign that letter, it will not get funded, said Mulloy.

He said that the new scrutiny being applied to the matching grant program came about last spring when Intel noticed that it hadn’t been checking whether organizations receiving funds were following Intel’s non-discrimination policy.

“We needed to be in compliance with our non-discrimination policy,” he said.

“When we set up the ‘Intel Involved” matching grant program, we said, ‘That’s a great idea,’” explained Mulloy. But as the program saw tremendous growth, the company realized it hadn’t properly vetted the organizations. “We looked at it and said, ‘Wait a minute, we forgot to check this.’”

Mulloy said that the new rules in the program will apply to every organization slated to receive funds, not just the Boy Scouts, and Scout troops that sign the non-discrimination statement will still receive funding.

TAI contacted Boy Scout entities that received money from Intel in the past, including the Golden Empire Council in Calif., the Knox Trail Council in Mass., and the Cascade Pacific Council in Ore. But they said they hadn’t yet heard from Intel and wouldn’t say whether they had plans to sign a non-discrimination statement.

Still, at least one Boy Scout council has prepared a document that it hopes will start the conversation with Intel.

Chris Shelby, the executive Scout with the Great Southwest Council in New Mexico — which got about $4800 from Intel in 2010 — told TAI via email, “We will work with Intel to develop a better understanding of how GSWC will deal with the issue.”

He sent TAI what he called the council’s membership standards, which appears to mirror the national Boy Scouts policy and does not appear to explicitly prohibit discrimination.

The document states, in part:

Great Southwest Council does not teach any program dealing with human sexuality, other than to encourage members to be sexually responsible to themselves and others. Programmatically, it places other issues of human sexuality, including heterosexual and homosexual sexuality, outside of its program;

Great Southwest Council does not initiate inquiry into the sexual orientation of existing or prospective members;

Great Southwest Council believes that issues or questions of human sexuality arising among its members are the province of that member’s family, religious leaders, doctors or other qualified advisors;

Great Southwest Council asks its members or those who seek to become members to subscribe to its programs, policies, principles and standards in support of Scouting’s mission. Among other reasons, Great Southwest Council reserves the right to exclude a member if his or her sexuality or behavior becomes publicly inappropriate;

Inappropriate sexual behavior is inconsistent with the Scout program and may hinder, distract or prevent Great Southwest Council from attaining its long sought and well established goals to foster the development of youth;

Great Southwest Council does not permit its organization to be used as a vehicle to promote any personal, political, social or other agenda that is inconsistent with Scouting’s mission or attaining its goals;

Great Southwest Council follows applicable laws and regulations dealing with employees’ rights and the fair treatment of people generally.

The Boy Scouts national policy, which the organization reaffirmed in July, is very similar.

In June, the BSA released the following statement:

The BSA policy is: “While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”

Scouting believes same-sex attraction should be introduced and discussed outside of its program with parents, caregivers, or spiritual advisers, at the appropriate time and in the right setting. The vast majority of parents we serve value this right and do not sign their children up for Scouting for it to introduce or discuss, in any way, these topics.

The BSA is a voluntary, private organization that sets policies that are best for the organization. The BSA welcomes all who share its beliefs but does not criticize or condemn those who wish to follow a different path.

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