Hero Image

Compton youth tackle serious community issues

The Issue

For many, the assumption is that youth who live in economically poor communities emerge without the tools and ambitions necessary to be productive persons. While there is a great deal of research to support this notion, Compton High School youth have defied this belief. The causes of these circumstances are complex, layered and generational, yet remain the subject of much debate. The 4-H Teen Leadership Development Institute was designed and developed to give youth an opportunity to confront these challenges with skill developing, building and application.

What Has ANR Done?

The 4-H Teen Leadership Development Institute (TLDI) was conceptualized and designed to give youth the tools, the connections and the support system necessary to navigate their way through the challenges of living in communities of generational and persistent poverty. The program offers high school youth a weekly program where they learn goal-setting, time management, public speaking and other leadership and life skills. They are then trained to apply these skills in the development and execution of a community service project. The project is usually the result of a need identified by the youth participants.

To plan for their service projects, youth meet with civic leaders, school principals and teachers and 4-H staff to discuss strategies for implementing the project. The meetings help them to further frame their service projects and their response in the context of the larger community. The youth participants then spend time in groups examining their issue from varied perspectives and designing a response to it.

Upon completion of the program, youth are rewarded with public acknowledgment of their efforts. Each youth also receives a 4-H pin.

The Payoff

Compton youth defying the odds

To date, more than 500 youth have participated in the TLDI and have delivered more than 10 service projects benefiting the community. The projects have included organization of a community march to highlight the impact of diabetes on African-American and Latino families in Compton. Another project involved the production of a video on global warming that was distributed to teachers and streamed on the county 4-H Web site. A permanent legacy of the TLDI are two murals that were designed and painted by the participants. The murals depicted people of color in various professions, like astronauts, doctors, teachers and engineers.

During the 2007/2008 program year, participants volunteered more than 650 hours of service to not only their projects, but to other community agencies.

Clientele Testimonial

"What I learned in this workshop (program) was that you should have determination to be able to succeed. Also, another thing that I learned was that you have many opportunities to do for your community." - program participant


Supporting Unit: 4-H Center for Youth Development

Keith C. Nathaniel, Ed.D.,(323) 260-3845, kcnathaniel@ucdavis.edu