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GSWPA Announces Richard King Mellon Foundation’s $1 million Commitment to Connect More Girl Scouts to the Outdoors


[Pittsburgh, PA]—In the spirit of National Get Outdoors Day on Saturday, June 11, today Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania (GSWPA) is pleased to announce Richard King Mellon Foundation’s $200,000 pledge and commitment to getting more girls from western Pennsylvania outdoors in unique and exciting ways.

The funding is part of a $1 million grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation that will benefit Girl Scouts from five councils: GSWPA, Girl Scouts of Alaska, Girl Scouts-Arizona Cactus-Pine Council, Girl Scouts of Greater New York, and Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan.

Over the next two years, the funding will help launch a pilot outdoor internship program at GSWPA and create a summer Girl Scout Destinations trip to a national park.

GSWPA is proud to collaborate with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) toward meeting these goals. SCA’s mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship of the environment and communities by engaging young people in hands-on service to the land.

Regular exposure to the outdoors provides significant benefit to Girl Scouts and is a key driver of leadership, according to the Girl Scout Research Institute's More Than S’mores: Successes and Surprises in Girl Scouts’ Outdoor Experiences. Nonetheless, nearly 60 percent of girls are not getting frequent contact with the outdoors in Girl Scouts.

“Enjoying the outdoors is much more than a fun tradition for Girl Scouts,” says Patricia A. Burkart, CEO of GSWPA. “Outdoor adventures help girls become more environmentally aware, explore leadership roles, and build confidence to try new things.”

The collaboration between the Student Conservation Association and GSWPA will elevate current outdoor and conservation activities, which in turn will enhance the Girl Scout volunteer experience.

Local Girl Scouts will also benefit from the grant by exploring national parks via Girl Scout Destinations trips during summer 2016 and 2017.

“Outdoor experiences like these are truly transformative,” states SCA President and CEO Jaime Berman Matyas. “They instill life skills and character traits that build on one another, strengthen over time, and foster self-confidence. SCA and GSUSA are working together to create new opportunities for personal growth and exploration of this country’s greatest treasures, our national parks.”

Over the course of two weeks in July 2016, ten Girl Scouts will experience cascading waterfalls, marvel at awe-inspiring vistas, and observe fascinating wildlife while working side by side with park rangers, as the girls participate in environmental stewardship projects at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

Katherine Stancil, 14, from Gibsonia, will be part of this first-ever, all-Girl Scout project crew.

The location of the 2017 Destinations trip has yet to be determined.

To find out more about Girl Scouts’ collaboration with Richard King Mellon Foundation and the Student Conservation Association, visit our Partners page.


About Girl Scouts

Founded in 1912, Girl Scouts of the USA is the preeminent leadership experience for girls and is the leading authority on girls' healthy development. Girl Scouts builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. The 2.8-million-member organization serves girls from every corner of the United States and its territories. Girl Scouts of the USA also serves American girls and their classmates attending American or international schools overseas in 90 countries. For more information on how to join, volunteer, reconnect or donate to Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania, call 800-248-3355 or visit

Richard King Mellon Foundation

Since 1947, the Richard King Mellon Foundation has invested in the competitive future and quality of life in southwestern Pennsylvania, and in the protection, preservation, and restoration of America’s environmental heritage.