Nevada 4-H partners with AmeriCorps to bring opportunities to inner-city youth
Extension aims to make post-secondary education a reality for underserved Las Vegas youth
By Claudene Wharton
Extension’s 4-H Grows Here Project will reach inner-city youth, teaching them STEM skills, such as those youth learn by building and flying drones.
University of Nevada, Reno Extension has been awarded a $280,000 AmeriCorps Program grant to expand its Nevada 4-H Youth Development Program in Clark County to engage more youth in underserved, inner-city areas of Las Vegas in STEM, civic engagement and other activities aimed at equipping the youth to successfully attend and complete some form of post-secondary education.
The grant is from the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that leads service, volunteering and grant-making efforts in the U.S. It is in partnership with Nevada Volunteers, a nonprofit organization that is the Governor’s commission which selects and administers AmeriCorps State programs in Nevada. AmeriCorps members are placed throughout the U.S. in intensive service positions where they learn valuable skills, receive a living allowance stipend, and then have access to awards that can be used toward qualified educational expenses.
The grant to Extension will fund the 4-H Grows Here Project in Clark County, using AmeriCorps members recruited from the community to engage youth, and create and sustain 4-H clubs in the inner city aimed at youth ages 5-19, with an emphasis on low-income and middle school-aged youth, and youth of color.
AmeriCorps members will serve in various capacities to support the youth development program – building community relationships, educating youth in STEM or other skills, or serving as 4-H club leaders. Together, they will be responsible for educating 3,000 youth through workshops, and then transitioning at least half of them for longer-term 4-H club programs. Once active in 4-H clubs, youth will complete 4-H curriculum related to computer science, robotics, chemistry, rocketry, drones, eco-science and other STEM subjects. Finally, the youth will select and complete a project that incorporates what they have learned to address a community need or solve a problem.
“Research shows that the 4-H Youth Development Program plays a special and vital role in the lives of America's young people,” said Ivory W. Lyles, University of Nevada, Reno Extension Director. “Expanding the reach of 4-H to inner city youth will create more true leaders who are prepared and engaged to take on critical challenges facing families, communities and businesses today.”
In fact, research by Tufts University shows that 4-H youth are four times more likely to contribute to their communities, and two times as likely to plan to go to college and pursue STEM opportunities outside of school. They also report better grades, higher levels of academic competence, and an elevated level of engagement at school.
The 4-H Program is America’s largest youth development organization and is based on providing experiences where young people learn by doing. Youth complete hands-on projects in areas such as health, science, agriculture and citizenship, where they receive guidance from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on leadership roles. Today, Nevada 4-H offers in-school and after-school programs, camps and various clubs, working in partnership with hundreds of organizations across the state, now including Nevada Volunteers and AmeriCorps.
“Nevada Volunteers is excited to see what is accomplished through this grant, and we are looking forward to a long and fruitful partnership,” said Alicia Blood, program officer at Nevada Volunteers. “4-H does amazing things, and with AmeriCorps members, the possibilities are endless.”
Extension will need to recruit a number of people to serve as the AmeriCorps member for the project quickly. For more information and to apply:
- 4-H STEM educator AmeriCorps member position.
- 4-H community development AmeriCorps member position.
For more information on the 4-H Grows Here Project, email Nora Luna, urban 4-H Youth Development Program coordinator.