Watch CBSN Live

Girl Scouts CEO: "We really need to invest more in girls"

Despite its previous popularity, the 104-year-old organization has faced declining membership and struggled to recruit minority members.
Despite its previous popularity, the 104-year... 05:45

More than one third of all American woman today have been Girl Scouts. Famous alums include actress Grace Kelly, astronaut Sally Ride, tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams and singer Taylor Swift.

Seventy-five percent of current female senators were also Girl Scouts, as well as every female secretary of state, including the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton.

Despite its star-studded list of successful alums, the 104-year-old organization has faced declining membership, in part due to a lack of investment. CEO Anna Maria Chavez said tapping into the alumni base would be a tremendous help.

"We really need to invest more in girls... People give more to animal causes than they give to girl causes in the U.S.," Chavez told "CBS This Morning" Thursday. "We have 59 million living Girl Scouts alumni in this country - one in two American women - so now is the opportunity to call them back home and say, 'you know, let's donate to the girls.'"

But another obstacle facing the organization is its lack of minority members. In 2014, 65 percent of its membership were white, 13 percent Hispanic, 11 percent black and three percent Asian. Chavez, who was a Girl Scout herself, is the first woman of color to lead the organization.

"I will admit, my family didn't know really about the Girl Scouts. My mother wasn't a Girl Scout, my grandma wasn't a Girl Scout, but they understood the power of our brand and they knew it would give me a heads up, a lead up into my life," Chavez said.

Chavez said communication - "talking directly to families, saying we're a very inclusive organization" - is key to growing the organization.

"We welcome all girls in all areas of the country and we're in 90 countries in the world. If your daughter joins us, she's going to become part of a global sisterhood that's going to give her great opportunities in the future," she said.

Last year, the Boy Scouts of America ended its ban on gay scout leaders. Chavez also welcomed the LGBT community, calling the Girl Scouts "the most inclusive organization" that does not "discriminate on any basis."

Chavez said the Girl Scouts is also making adjustments to stay relevant to the times by coming up with more efficient means of volunteering with new technology platforms and online training and expanding beyond the traditional skills it teaches its members.

"Now they're earning nanotechnology badges, they're learning to code. I've got 13 financial literacy badges, I'm teaching them what a mortgage is and how to invest in their future," Chavez said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.