James E West Fellowship

What is the James E. West Fellowship?

James E West fellows are those who give $1,000 or more to Chief Seattle Council’s endowment fund. This professionally managed fund provides annual operational support for Scouting programs in the Puget Sound region. 

Gifts may be made in honor of others, or in memory of those who have passed. 

James E. West Fellowship gifts are made at the following levels:

  • $1,000-$4,999 Bronze Level
  • $5,000-$9,999 Silver Level
  • $10,000-$14,999 Gold Level
  • $15,000+ Diamond Level

Donors may make cumulative gifts to reach Silver, Gold, and Diamond Levels.

Who was James E. West?

Orphaned at age six and afflicted with tuberculosis, James E. West never had much of a childhood. West had to fight for permission to attend school outside of his orphanage—and only if he did his extensive orphanage chores before and after school. Nonetheless, he finished high school in two years, graduating with honors in 1895. By 1901, he’d worked his way through law school and was practicing law in Washington, D.C.

Given those circumstances, it was not surprising West gravitated toward children’s issues. When a young boy stole his car, he declined to press charges, offering instead to represent the boy in court (he got him off on a technicality). This incident led West to lobby successfully for the creation of a juvenile court. He also worked for the Washington Playground Association and the YMCA and prompted President Theodore Roosevelt to convene a White House Conference on Dependent Children in 1909.  Given his background, West became a natural choice to serve as the first Chief Scout Executive. He agreed to take the job for up to six months and stayed on for 32 years.

How do donors qualify? 

Only gifts made directly to the endowment fund qualify for the James E West recognition. Donors who signal their intentions to make a James E West gift of at least $1,000 may take three years to pay-off their commitment. James E West Fellowship, and other endowment gifts are distinct from annual Friends of Scouting (FOS) gifts. FOS funds the council’s operational budget, and are not eligible for James E West recognition. 

How is a James E West Fellow recognized?

The James E. West Fellowship is recognized with a personalized certificate and an embroidered square knot award that may be worn on a BSA field uniform. 

How to give:

Give online by clicking here.

By Mail: 

Print the form found here, then include a check payable to Chief Seattle Council, BSA.

Mail to:

Chief Seattle Council, BSA
Attn: James E West Fellowship
3120 Rainier Ave South
Seattle, WA 98144

For questions, please contact:
Dan Gelis