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4-H ASAP: A Pioneer In After School Programs

The Issue

Many of the parents of youth residing in public housing communities are single mothers with several young children to care for. Living at or below the poverty level, many are not fluent in English and lack the financial and sometimes the social resources to provide all the support they would like to give their children. Public housing communities and other low-income neighborhoods are heavily impacted by gangs, drug abuse, physical and social isolation and poorly-performing schools. All combine to create an environment that places Los Angeles near the bottom of the list of cities that provide safe and healthy communities for children.

What Has ANR Done?

Betweem 1988 and 2002, the 4-H After School Activity Program (ASAP) in Los Angeles County provided quality after-school programs in schools and community centers, serving children 7 to 13 years of age living in public housing communities and other low-income neighborhoods. Operating five days a week and fifty weeks a year, the program has been collaboratively supported by businesses, public agencies, school districts and UCCE.

The program provided attractive alternatives to unstructured leisure time, in safe, accessible and nurturing environments. Activities included homework counseling, nutrition and physical fitness, and daily learning-by-doing supported by curricula from the 4-H Program, as well as the Kaufman Foundation, Junior Achievement and others. Community service projects helped youth play meaningful roles in their communities. With support from VISTA-recruited high school, college and community volunteers representing every ethnicity and walk of life, youth participants benefited from interactions with positive role models, mentors, tutors and project leaders.

The Payoff

4-H makes a significant difference in the lives of inner- city youth

Over 6,500 youth from 28 communities were engaged in the program. Participants showed improvements in self-concept, homework completion, attitudes towards school and feelings of safety. Participants also reported that they were better able to resist the temptation to become involved in gangs and other negative behaviors. Parents reported that their children were more cooperative, social and responsible, and did better in school.

Clientele Testimonial

"4-H is safer than being on the streets. And I’d rather learn from here than the streets." –Tymeka Kelly, 4-H participant.


Supporting Unit: Los Angeles County

John Pusey, 4-H youth Development Advisor, UCCE Los Angeles County, 2 Coral Circle, Monterey Park, CA 91755 (323) 838-4559 jcpusey@ucdavis.edu