4-H UNITY: Urban Neighborhoods Improved Through Youth

4-H UNITY (Urban Neighborhoods Improved Through Youth) uses Cornell Cooperative Extension’s 4-H Signature Program, Youth Community Action, with a two-generation approach to address poverty, childhood obesity and food insecurity in two high-need communities in Endicott and Rochester.

The approach focuses on the needs of vulnerable teens and their parents together, with the unifying goal of strengthening family well-being, improving the community and breaking the cycle of generational poverty. UNITY combines 4-H youth development, civic engagement, STEM education, nutrition and parent education to ensure teens demonstrate the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors necessary for fulfilling, contributing lives, and promotes healthy lifestyles among teens and their parents/guardians.

Together, UNITY teen/parent teams become community change agents and conduct community improvement projects addressing critical USDA/NIFA goals. “Visiting professors” from local colleges and organizations conduct STEM-based seminars to inform these projects. After completing “4-H Public Adventures,” the teen/parent teams conduct projects to combat childhood obesity, promote healthy lifestyles and increase food access. The teen/parent teams will conduct interactive theater presentations to build community awareness of issues important to young people, establish community gardens to address food insecurity and conduct projects fostering meaningful civic engagement.

UNITY teens will demonstrate improved leadership and workforce development skills as their community projects, job shadowing and internships provide opportunities for real-world skill application. Teens will gain the skills needed to prepare them for college, careers and citizenship. UNITY will establish a strong foundation for long-term sustainability by intentionally engaging local government leaders, businesses and community organizations in partnerships to ensure UNITY’s continuation. 

Last updated June 18, 2019