A new partnership between the Dallas Mavericks and Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas (GSNETX) brings something good during Women's History Month.
The Mavericks will invest $50,000 annually for three years to support the work of the GSNETX in diversity, equity and inclusion.
The partnership will also power the region's first-ever Black History Month Patch. The first patches were awarded in February. More than 1,400 girls accepted the challenge to discover the history, culture, and contributions of African-Americans.
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“We’re investing in the lives of our youth to empower these girls as they take the necessary steps to shatter glass ceilings,” Mavs CEO Cynt Marshall said in a news release. “These Girl Scouts are the leaders of the future and through this partnership, we’re amplifying that.”
"They believe we have the power not just to impact social injustice today but to create a generation of girls who are ready to change that for our future," said Jennifer Bartkowski, the CEO of Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas which serves more than 20,000 girls in 32 counties.
From its founding in 1912, the Girl Scouts has been committed to inclusion, "but in the last year, we've escalated that commitment," Bartkowski said.
"I believe we did an amazing job over the last 100 years giving girls voice, their own voice, for talking about racial injustice and how they were going to stand up and speak out about it. But certainly in the last year, so much has happened in our world that we knew we needed to step up our game," she said.
GSNETX created a strategic plan around DEI, hired a new senior director of diversity, equity and inclusion to lead the work, and is now part of the 2021 Dallas Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation nonprofit cohort.
"We made it a top priority, and we've integrated it into everything we do," Bartkowski said.
"We're just like the Girl Scouts in that this has been a priority for so long but I think this year and everything that has happened has really put more energy and more effort behind our efforts to address those racial inequities and be able to provide a voice to really make change in our communities," said Katie Edwards, the senior vice president for external affairs for the Dallas Mavericks.
Edwards says the new partnership and the financial investment will help give the Girls Scouts the "courage to stand up, the confidence to speak out and the character to take action against all these racial inequities in our world."
The new $150,000 Gift of Character partnership was intentionally announced during Women's History Month and in part, amplifies the theme of International Women's Day on March 8, which is "Choose to Challenge."
"Kindergarten through 12th grade, we are finding a way to make change happen in their community. We actually challenge them at every age level to do that. Our mission is to build girls of courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place and one of our big outcomes is helping girls understand how they make their community better," Bartkowski said. "So, we are challenging them every day and particularly, this month and on Monday, we want them to step up and stand up for what's right."
"I think now more than ever there are so many of us who can't stand on the sidelines anymore," Edwards said. "So for us, it's the time to choose to challenge. It's the time to take action, to be engaged, be involved and whether that's around the issues of women and girls or these racial inequities we see in our communities, now is the time."
Bartkowski and Edwards both believe women have a unique role in bringing about change.
"I absolutely believe women are uniquely poised to make this difference. Women come to leadership with a sense of collaboration, with a sense of empathy. They get things done and I think that is something that has to happen right now but also, women have an incredible influence on families, on individuals, on communities. They're in the grassroots. They're integrated in their communities. They're making change happen," Bartkowski said. "And I think our girls feel that. They feel it so strongly, they're asking for a way to make a difference. Their families are feeling that. And it's a special moment, and we want to make sure they're ready and we're ready."
"The power of women is a force that cannot be stopped. The Mavericks is a great example of how we've stepped up and had a culture transformation with women in power positions and roles of leadership and what we can do together but I will say, it takes all of us and it has so much to do with all in this together. We talk about that a lot and how we do need to unite. We need to listen to each other. We need to hear all of the different viewpoints and different sides and come together to really make a change in our communities," Edwards added.