New York: 4-H Youth Community Action Network (Youth CAN)

Brief Site Description: 
New York 4-H Youth Community Action Network (Youth CAN) uses Cornell Cooperative Extension’s (CCE) 4-H Signature Program, Youth Community Action (YCA), to promote civic engagement and workforce development among high need teens in Albany and Buffalo. NY 4-H Youth CAN is being implemented by CCE Albany County and CCE Erie County. By creating youth-led networks of community organizations, Youth CAN Teen Leaders become community change agents and conduct projects addressing critical NIFA/USDA Research, Education and Economics (REE) goals. In doing so, Teen Leaders gain the skills needed to graduate from high school prepared for college, careers and citizenship. After completing 4-H Public Adventures, Teen Leaders conduct civic engagement projects such as tackling childhood obesity, food security and climate change. “Visiting professors” provide STEM-based seminars to inform youth-directed projects. This approach elevates project effectiveness, establishes professionalism among the Teen Leaders and enhances their career aspirations while increasing a sense of community connectedness and engaged citizenship. During summers, Teen Leaders gain workforce skills through paid internships. Youth CAN’s program plan focuses on sustainability through intentional partnerships with local organizations and businesses, so that by the end of the project, two Youth Community Action Networks will be sustained—Albany Youth CAN and Buffalo Youth CAN. The program is designed to strengthen county-campus connections and advance research at Cornell University about how to work effectively with vulnerable populations, by purposefully involving the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research. During 2015, Albany Youth CAN is partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Albany, Grand Street Community Arts and Schenectady County Community College Albany. Buffalo Youth CAN in Erie County is partnered with Global Concepts Charter High School in Lackawanna and Northtowns Boys and Girls Clubs in Buffalo.