Odessa United Way and Boy Scouts Part Ways Over Funding

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA--After an almost 60 year partnership, two local non-profit organizations have come to a bump in the road.  

United Way of Odessa won't be funding the Buffalo Trail Council of the Boy Scouts of America this year.

But as NewsWest 9 found out, there's a reason behind that decision.

Talk over the money has been on going between the two organizations since June.  Boy Scout officials say they've been put in an awkward position to find funding after losing their grant.  The United Way tells NewsWest 9, the decision to reduce the funding came down to a matter of accountability.

According to Executive Director, Tom Pursel, "We want to make sure that the money that is given by people in Odessa to the United Way of Odessa is spent to the best efforts, within the community.'

The Buffalo Trail Council is one of 19 agencies funded by the United Way of Odessa.  In fact, it was one of the first agencies they ever supported.

"The amount we offered the Boy Scouts is a reduction from previous years and it was one they did not feel they could live with.  They asked to be let out of our blackout period where the organizations that we fund are not allowed to campaign against us, as we are campaigning for them," Pursel said.

The Boy Scouts were offered $10,000, $40,000 less than they got last year and what they were expecting to get again this year.

"We wanted to take that money, but unfortunately there were a lot of restrictions that came with it.  We asked them if they would consider removing those restrictions and the replied that they could not and withdrew the $10,000 at that point," Scout Executive and CEO, Lyman Gifford, said.

Pursel says the same rules apply to every agency they support.  All allocations are based on interviews with United Way board members and community volunteers, who ask questions about how the money is being put to use.

"They asked some questions of the Boy Scouts and they weren't satisfied with the answers and therefore, recommended a reduced amount of funding this year," Pursel said.

"Most of your major donors, like that, will have questions periodically, where you want to answer any additional information that they may have needed," Gifford said.

As for withdrawing the funding and ending their partnership after 59 years, Pursel says that wasn't the case, "We had no desire to sever any relationships with them and were taken aback by their request that we disassociate them from us."

The United Way says they hope the Boy Scouts will apply for funding again next year.

Copies of the letters sent between the two are available for public view on the Buffalo Trail Council web site.