Taking the Mission of Scouting to Rural and Urban Nebraska

By Matt Spitsen

Since September of 2016 we’ve been lucky enough to have The Boy Scouts of America Cornhusker Council as a member of Nonprofit Hub.

We have over 30 organizations who call Nonprofit Hub home, but this one has special significance to me, as Scouting was a huge part of my childhood and has helped shape who I am today.

While the whole neckerchief-clad Boy Scouts team isn’t staffed out of Nonprofit Hub, one of the Cornhusker Council’s initiatives is—ScoutReach.

The ScoutReach program differs slightly from traditional Scouting. It focuses its service to rural and urban areas and minority populations. It’s not a new program by any means, but it’s recently been made a main area of focus by the Cornhusker Council, which serves three districts in Southeastern Nebraska. To show this commitment to growing their ScoutReach program, in 2016 the Cornhusker Council hired their first full-time District Executive that’s dedicated solely to ScoutReach, and expanding their programing to more youth who may not have the opportunity to participate in Scouting otherwise.

Akeem Holmes joined the Cornhusker Council in August of 2016 to take their ScoutReach program to the next level. Before he joined the team the Council had 120 Scouts in this program, but by the end of December that same year, he had grown the ScoutReach program to 273 Scouts.

When Holmes isn’t out in the community meeting with school and community leaders, he’s stationed at his desk or meeting with his staff at Nonprofit Hub, so I get the chance to speak with him now and again.

To gain clarity on what made ScoutReach different from traditional Scouting programs, I sought his input. “ScoutReach is the same as normal Boy Scout programs, but the settings and times they meet may be different,” Holmes said. “ScoutReach is the opportunity to allow all young people to join Scouting, regardless of their circumstances, neighborhood or ethnic background. We focus on leadership and character, just like other Boy Scouts programs.”

In the schools Holmes works in, finding Scout volunteers within that market can be tough, so he’s able to look to the University a couple blocks away for help. “Being close to UNL is such a great benefit,” Holmes said. “I’m close to my staff of interns, volunteers and community service employees, so I can easily host meetings with staff and other business leaders in the community.”

This staff of interns and volunteers is who help Holmes run all 12 of the ScoutReach after-school programs—and that’s just in Lincoln. Beyond Lincoln and other parts of Lancaster county, ScoutReach is currently serving in 16 counties.

It’s safe to say that we don’t see Holmes a whole lot at Nonprofit Hub. He’s a busy guy. But when he’s here, it’s clear as to how much this Scouting program means to him.

“It’s important for ScoutReach to exist in our community because it allows our young people to have an opportunity to be involved in Scouting regardless of where they live, the clothes they wear or the ethnic background they identify with,” said Holmes. “The youth we work with are so eager to learn, especially about ScoutReach.”

Waking up and getting to work with kids every day must be an amazingly rewarding feeling. Holmes talked about how the smiles the kids have, before and after an activity, really ignite his passion and reassure that he’s making a difference in their lives.

Getting to see the growth of ScoutReach first-hand has been so impressive to watch, and we can’t wait for this Scout program to continue on to more and more schools, serving those kids who need to know they haven’t been given up on.

This article was originally published in Nonprofit Hub Magazine — Subscribe for free! | Back to the archives