4-H Urban Outreach Program

The mission of the 4-H Urban Outreach Program is to take the 4-H Youth Development model and make it accessible to all audiences in our community. By providing daily after school and summer programming, the program empowers youth and adults by creating opportunities that build academic and life skills through experiential learning. The aim is to ensure that youth achieve a sense of independence, belonging, mastery and generosity, to develop into positive, caring, and productive citizens.

For over 35 years, 4-H Urban Outreach has provided youth development programming to downtown neighborhoods, in which youth increase academic and life skills. The history of the program dates back to1979, when Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, Division for Youth of Tompkins County, and Abbott Associates collaborated together to develop a summer program at West Village Apartments. The original goal was to meet the recreational and educational needs of the youth living at West Village. Youth from Parkside Gardens began attending in 1992, and youth from Maple Hill Apartments, also owned by Abbott Associates, joined the program at our Belle Sherman/SIFE site in 2008. We are hoping to expand into other complexes as well with future funding.

Funded entirely through grants, donations and county dollars, 4-H Urban Outreach has served approximately 90 youth annually in past years, offering a total of approximately 975 program hours yearly. Participants in 4-H Urban Outreach have ranged in age from 5 to 13+, all coming from housing complexes in downtown Ithaca. Through daily after school and summer educational enrichment programming, 4-H Urban Outreach provides youth with healthy relationships with adult role models, homework and literacy tutoring, engaging skill-building activities, exposure to the larger community, and opportunities for community engagement. Trained work-study students, staff, and volunteers provide ongoing mentoring and activities, leading to positive youth development. Our success depends on a large pool of dedicated volunteers and work study students, contributing over 4,300 hours per year.

Our neighborhood-based approach has been successful because it meets individuals' needs directly where they live; allowing families to build trust in the program, by knowing their children are in a safe location, and by getting to know on-site staff on an ongoing basis. 4-H Urban Outreach has been successful helping neighborhoods grow stronger and thrive by fostering relationships, providing resources, and promoting the learning of life skills. The program has a holistic goal of strengthening families and building community. In addition to ongoing youth development, we also partner with other CCE-Tompkins Educators to bring adult workshops directly to residents' neighborhoods.

Last updated August 10, 2017