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California 4-H Increases Reach with Latino Youth

The Issue

With 15 million Latino residents, California accounts for more than a quarter (27%) of the nation’s Latino population. Over 52% of California’s K-12 students are Latinos. California Latinos live in households with median annual income of $47,180 (the California state median is $60,883), with 20% of Latino youth living below the poverty line. These income gaps are related to opportunity gaps for youth; for example, access to high-quality youth development programs, early preparation for college, and peer and adult mentoring.

What Has ANR Done?

In 2015, UC ANR understood and accepted the challenge of better serving diverse audiences, especially the Latino population. A three year UC ANR 4-H Latino Initiative was formed within the 4-H Youth Development Program. Seven counties (Kern, Merced, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, Santa Barbara, and Sonoma) participated in the pilot to develop culturally relevant and responsive programs to welcome Latino youth, families, and volunteers to 4-H. We recruited and oriented seven, new bilingual and bicultural 4-H Community Education Specialists, reflective of the community they were intended serve. These staff implemented a variety of community, afterschool, and special interest (SPIN) clubs, special interest programs, short-term programs, and day camps, and they also started new projects inside existing 4-H clubs. We developed bilingual materials and adapted existing materials to support high-quality 4-H youth development programming.

The Payoff

Latino youth participation in 4-H has substantially increased and four counties achieved parity

In 2016-2017 program year alone, there was a 68% increase (3,205 youth) in Latino youth participating in 4-H programs. Overall, we reached 15,000 Latino youth, representing 67% of the total 4-H membership in the seven counties. Four of seven counties reached parity, meaning their 4-H membership reflects the racial demographics of their county. The annual report is available at http://4h.ucanr.edu/files/268654.pdf. In alignment with our UC ANR Strategic Vision, and while we continue to work to accomplish our 2025 goal of serving 3% of the state’s youth population, the seven counties made strides in adapting 4-H to be culturally relevant for Latino youth. This work will help all youth feel welcome, appreciated, and valued in 4-H programs. We have begun to reframe how 4-H staff works with Latino audiences to design and test culturally relevant programming. These efforts will provide avenues to assist other counties to grow 4-H and have potential to affect a national Extension strategy for diversity and inclusion. Overall, we increased opportunities to provide positive youth development for Latino youth, a traditionally underserved population. This work helps UC ANR contribute to reduced racial and ethnic inequality in California.


Supporting Unit: Youth, Families, and Communities Statewide Program

Lupita Fabregas, (in coordination with many other ANR staff), Assistant Director for 4-H Diversity and Expansion, lfabregas@ucanr.edu