Girl Scout Troop 6000, the first troop to serve homeless girls and women, was awarded $1 million to expand its services to homeless shelters across the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday.
The troop, which is made up of girls currently living in the Sleep Inn in Long Island City, serves 21 children living in the 10-story hotel. It was established in March with partnership with the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and Girl Scouts of Greater New York.
The additional $1 million will help expand the program to 15 sites that house homeless families and the city estimates that the funds will allow at least 500 girls to join the Girl Scouts in its first year. The city estimates that roughly one-third of its homeless shelter population are children 17 and younger. According to the DHS shelter census, families make up nearly 70 percent of the shelter population.
“It was only a few months ago that Troop 6000 stole the hearts of New Yorkers and garnered support from people around the country,” de Blasio said. “The Girl Scouts of Greater New York embody the type of program this administration is dedicated to supporting, with the shared goal of helping young people build confidence and foster community support.”
Over the next three years, DHS will provide $320,000 annually and the Mayor’s Fund will provide $55,000 every year for a total of $1,125,000 for this expansion. Funding from DHS and money raised by the Girl Scouts of Greater New York will cover membership fees, troop dues, and starter kits, which include a vest, pins and workbooks. Program supplies and financial aid for summer camp and other opportunities will also be provided.
A social worker will also be hired to serve the members of Troop 6000, who will be led by trained troop leaders, who are also women living in the shelter system. The new sites will be launched in October 2017.
“The girls of Troop 6000 in Long Island City are our future engineers, doctors, lawyers, activists and community leaders,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents Long Island City. “Troop 6000 gives these girls a place to find lifelong friends and discover the beauty, power and strength they have inside; it gives these girls a place to realize their dreams, find stability and discover the strength they have inside to be whoever they want to be.”
Van Bramer said the idea to create a Girl Scout troop made of homeless girls was first discussed when he, along with Girl Scouts of Greater New York, served Thanksgiving dinner to a women’s homeless shelter in Long Island City last November.
“This money will help these girls realize their dreams,” he said. “Helping to expand Troop 6000 is just about the most right thing I’ve ever been a part of, and I remain committed as ever to its expansion all across New York City.”