Federal grant will restart 4-H program in Rochester for urban youth and parents

A federal agriculture grant of $640,000 will help re-establish an urban youth 4-H program run by the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County.

The grant from the Children, Youth and Families at Risk Sustainable Community Project of the U.S. Department of Agriculture will go to the Monroe County extension, Cornell University, and CCE of Broome County.

The grant will support continuing in Broome County and restarting in Monroe County the 4-H Urban Neighborhoods Improved Through Youth program. 4-H UNITY works with youth and their parents in poor areas to learn leadership and skills to create community change. Parent and child teams work together on community improvement projects.

June P. Mead, with the CCE of Broome County, said, “We are proud to have a track record of transforming young lives. One hundred percent of the youth who have completed our previous CYFAR projects graduated successfully from high school and have gone on to college with full or partial scholarships. That’s real success for high-need, at-risk youth,”

Andrea Lista, executive director of the CCE of Monroe County, said Monroe County’s share of the grant will pay for additional hours of educators now on staff and potentially the hiring of another educator.

“The grant of course provides staffing and training, but also opportunities to give students experiences,” Lista said. One event youth will attend in the spring is the annual, three-day State Teen Action Representatives Retreat in Syracuse, she said.

Lista said the program will begin with 15-20 youth this year and expand to additional youth and their parents in the following year. The grant offers support for five years.

Monroe County’s 4-H programs also include the traditional clubs and after-school programs, in rural, urban and suburban settings, Lista said. She is looking for partner organizations to help work with the 4-H UNITY component, and especially a partner with a venue in the city accessible to youth without transportation. Interested people or organizations can contact Lista at 585-753-2559.

“We’re happy to explore opportunities for this year or for future years,” Lista said. “We have a lot of really fantastic youth programming we’d like to offer the community.”

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