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Further Thoughts on BSA and Its Relationship with Its Learning for All Program


March 8, 2006


In the light of the revelations I outlined in "Learning for Life--The Cash Cow that Keeps Giving...and Giving," the question,"What should we do about this?" obviously follows. Let me begin by separating the facts from the speculations. Facts are just that, facts, unquestionable, while speculations will always be influenced by emotions. In addition, speculations cannot be proven in the face of the facts at hand.


Facts Regarding the BSA Learning for Life Program

1. The BSA has reorganized into two divisions, Traditional Scouting, and Learning for Life/Exploring.
2. All fees paid to either Traditional Scouting or L4L pass directly to the BSA.
3. Joining requirements for Traditional Scouting are discriminatory; joining requirements for L4L are nondiscriminatory.
4. L4L is a highly successful program serving 1,680,522 students in 20,000 schools across the US in 2004.
5. Traditional Scouting derives income from charitable donations, registration fees, the sale of literature, promotional items, and recognition awards. Fees for activities, such as Philmont treks, pay the costs of those activities.
6. L4L derives income from charitable donations,licensing fees, registration fees, the sale of literature, promotional items and recognition awards.
7. L4L is a very profitable venture for theBSA.
8. Participation in L4L is increasing year after year; participation in Traditional Scouting has been declining.

Speculations Regarding the BSA Learning for Life Program
1. Dividing the BSA into two divisions is a vehicle to separate a discriminatory program from a nondiscriminatory one.
2. United Way chapters are being asked to support the L4L program and not the Traditional Scouting program. If this is the approach being used, it truly is a "scam." Obviously the L4L program is more than self-sufficient and does not need charitable donations. The only way thismight not qualify as a scam is the situationin which theBSA turns around and grants local school districts access to L4L "free of charge," applying United Way grants to pay for fees and materials.Many would still call this ascam or "dishonest advertising." The United Way is actually being asked to "buy" the L4L programfor use in the schools. At least the public benefits from the L4L program in its schools.
3. Donors are not being informed that gifts to either L4L or the Traditional Scouting program go directly to the BSA, to be used as it sees fit.
4. Income from L4L accounts for more than half the total income for the BSA. The numbers I quoted in my earlier memo are merely for illustration. I don't know the actual number of L4L licenses the BSA has granted, or whether or not there are special licensing arrangements for "large consumers." I also do not know the "markup" on the sale of literature, promotional items and recognition awards.
5. The formation of the Learning for Life/Exploring Division is a "preemptive reorganization" that would allow the BSA to "spin off" the division as a for-profit corporation, should L4L be declared a commercial product.

Is Learning for Life a Commercial Product or is ita Charitable Program?

I believe that L4L started out as a charitable program in much the same way that the various segments of Traditional Scouting can be viewed as "charitable programs." As noted above, Traditional Scouting is supported primarily by charitable donations. Limited additional income is generatedfrom modest registration fees andsales of literature, promotional and recognition items. L4L, on the other hand, now charges a substantial licensing fee for the use of the program. In my mind, that makes L4L a commercial product. I fail to see the distinction between L4L and a clearly commercial product, like Microsoft Windows, which we all use and which we all pay a licensing fee when we buy a computer.

I think that the BSA has created the Learning for Life/Exploring division as a clever marketing ploy. By being a nondiscriminatory program, L4L is clearly more attractive to the schools. The BSA is also in a much better position to "scam" United Way chapters and businesses into contributing to support a nondiscriminatory program that benefits the community. The Learning for Life/Exploring division is also "in place" should L4L ever be found to be a "commercial product." The BSA is a 501(c)(3) corporation.In my opinion, itcannot offer commercial products. If L4L were found to be a commercial product, the BSA would be forced to decide whether it wanted to cease to be a nonprofit organization or to "spin off" L4L as a for-profit corporation. Clearly, the BSA doesn't want to be forced to make this decision. It's just "holding its breath" hoping that someone like Scouting for All doesn't come along and uncover their little secret. Meanwhile its milking L4Land the charitable public for all its worth.

The last two paragraphs are just my speculations. All this needs to be reviewed by a lawyer who specializes in business law (both for-profit and not for profit).


Scouting for All Researcher


 

 

 

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