Urban 4-H Youth DevelopmentMinnesota Urban 4-H Youth Development is a part of the Center for 4-H Youth Development and the University of Minnesota. Urban 4-H Youth Development is also a part of the Children, Youth, and Families At Risk (CYFAR) New Communities Project.
Minnesota Urban 4-H Youth Development
Urban 4-H works on behalf of youth living in Minneapolis, St. Paul and the surrounding suburban communities to measurably improve their learning through educational programs and applied research. Urban 4-H partners with schools, agencies, organizations, and volunteers to build sustainable programs that meet the unique needs of urban youth. This mission is accomplished with two signature programs: Urban Youth Learn and Urban Youth Lead. Each program is carried out through networks of community partnerships.
The goals of Urban Youth Learn are to:
The goals of Urban Youth Lead are to:
Unique Youth Needs:
Urban Youth Learn is a training and technical support program designed to help program leaders create, strengthen, and advance youth programs that occur during nonschool hours. The program begins each fall with workshops that invite program leaders from agencies, organizations, and schools to partner with Urban 4-H. Attending this workshop is the first step to building partnerships with program leaders. Urban 4-H continues to build this partnership throughout the year by working with program leaders to implement strategies that improve their youth programs.
Urban Youth Lead is a leadership development program designed to expose urban adolescents to the worlds of higher education and careers by using an innovative youth development approach. This guide helps program leaders create a learning environment in which youth identify their interests and discover possibilities for their futures. This is done by working with youth to build awareness and leadership skills so that ultimately, they become the authors of their own lives. As a part of this process, youth will use their personal leadership skills to design a field experience and present a portfolio that documents their growth and future aspirations. Urban Youth Lead is inspired by the works of Paulo Freire, one of the foremost leaders in the field of education who carried a revolutionary message of hope that education leads to liberation.
In Minneapolis and St. Paul, youth ages 5-17 (the approximate target age range of Urban 4-H) account for 73.2% of the 0-19 population. In this group, the Latino and Latina youth population is the fastest growing group in Minnesota, with a majority of this population living in Minneapolis and St. Paul. This rapid growth rate is followed by African-American and Asian youth groups. St. Paul hosts the largest urban Hmong population in the United States. Currently, over 60,000 Hmong people live in the Twin Cities. A second wave of over 5,000 Hmong refugees is expected to emigrate from Thailand to St. Paul from 2004 to 2007. Over half of this Hmong population is under the age of 14. Minneapolis also hosts the largest Somali refugee population in the United States.
Urban 4-H Youth Development programs reflect the Twin Cities diverse youth population. Youth served in 2004-2005 were: 58% African American, 22% Asian American, 12% Hispanic, 6% European, and 2% Native American.
Funding sources include University of Minnesota Compact; USDA; Children, Youth, and Families At Risk; Minnesota 4-H Foundation; and fees. Urban 4-H Youth Development operates from business and program plans.
Urban 4-H Youth Development has 7.5 FTE program staff and faculty with diverse academic and professional backgrounds grounded in subject matter related to urban youth, special populations, youth development and education. We also support a network of university interns and adult volunteers.
As a result of partnering through Urban Youth Learn and Urban Youth Lead, Urban 4-H collaboratively administers an evaluation that measures a youth program's impact on both youth learning and the learning environment. The evaluation is 2-part, utilizing phenomenological essays (youth-written essays on their experience of learning) and a 5-component survey on learning environments. Together, these evaluation methods reveal the nature of the learning environment in youth development programs by capturing the often neglected voice of youth.
Urban Youth Learn outcomes include:
Effective learning environments (5-component survey on learning environments) High-quality youth learning experiences (assessed with essay method) Significant improvements in school attendance, academic achievement, and school climate (tracked and measured by 21st Century Community Learning Center program sites)
Urban Youth Lead outcomes include:
Effective learning environments (5-component survey on learning environments) High-quality youth learning experiences (assessed with essay method) Concrete connections for urban youth to careers and higher education opportunities
The Urban 4-H program sites continue to be safe, fun, and effective learning environments for new immigrant and refugee youth. In 2004-2005, approximately 830 youth have participated in Urban 4-H programs, which is an increase of about 350% in youth participation since the last year. Urban 4-H partnered with 12 schools, agencies, organizations, and volunteers during 2004-2005 to deliver 28 sustainable programs that met the unique needs of urban youth.
Evaluation results from older youth interviewed indicate that the most positive Outcomes of their participation in Urban 4-H programs center around learning to express themselves and to work together with other youth and adults.
All efforts to sustain the project - particularly forming partnerships with schools and other local community organizations and agencies - significantly add to the development of both staff and program participants. In addition, local organizations and agencies help to provide additional opportunities for youth to connect through activities such as organizing family events, engaging youth in cross-age teaching opportunities, and helping them contribute to community-service projects. Such projects often lead to civic engagement which may facilitate the transition to adulthood. A number of youth in fact return to the Urban 4-H program (upon adulthood) to serve as adult volunteer leaders and/or university interns. In fact, one Hmong male from St. Paul was recently selected to serve as Minnesota 4-H Ambassador during his freshman year in college. As a youth, he was actively involved in many aspects of Urban 4-H. As a young adult, he applied his leadership to the Minnesota 4-H Youth Development program.
Urban 4-H staff and faculty on the other hand, are increasingly being called upon by school staff and other partners to provide technical support, tools and training in leadership, behavioral management and curriculum development.
Community-based programs, like the programs offered through Urban 4-H, develop learning environments that typically occur during out-of-school time. Non-school hours can lead to increased risk or opportunity for youth depending on how the time is used. Unfortunately, adolescents typically have fewer out-of-school time programs available to them because too often a heavy emphasis on academic achievement overshadows informal learning opportunities. In turn, adolescents who are not involved in school activities have fewer organized youth development opportunities available to them. This is unfortunate because out-of-school time programs offer prime opportunities for adolescents to truly get involved in their own development through recreation. This is especially important to those who are not otherwise thriving in school. These programs also offer unique opportunities for immigrant and refugee adolescents - a break in the day when one has the chance to be him or herself, sort things out, pursue an interest, or find camaraderie. Eventually these opportunities may lead to a positive transition into adulthood.
Other key elements:
- Networks of community partnerships
- Networks of adult volunteers and interns
Jennifer Skuza, Ph.D.
(612) 624- 7798
These programs began in September 2003 and run throughout the year; they are still operating.