Working in partnership with youth to address racism through the 4-H Youth Community Action Network

The 4-H Youth Community Action Network (Youth CAN) builds youth capacity for addressing racial inequities in Erie County. Youth CAN uses a Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) evidence-based 4-H Signature Program, Youth Community Action, that promotes civic engagement and workforce development among youth from minoritized communities.

In Youth CAN, youth learn leadership and workforce development skills, gain exposure to career opportunities, deepen their understanding of social identity, and increase their capacity to address racial inequity. 4-H Youth CAN has been running in Erie County, NY since 2015. In partnership with adult leaders, the program’s youth leaders have completed many projects in their communities including creating a Black Lives Matter video project, hosting community & police speakouts, improving recycling at school, hosting a civic engagement conference in Buffalo, and developing a documentary about how to address discrimination.  

Intended outcomes include:

  • Youth and adults will work in partnership to develop and carry out projects that generate conversation about racial equity and move our community toward racial healing 
  • Increased youth leadership capacity, including increased understanding of how to develop and implement a community-based project
  • Youth access to economic opportunities through summer employment and career development support 

Roles and responsibilities 

The student intern will work in partnership with 4-H staff to co-develop a summer program plan for the six-week teen leadership program, focusing on engaging youth in different program components. The summer program will consist of a full summer employment program for 14-year-old youth and a subset of this program for youth ages 12 and 13.

The student intern will provide a reflection, in whatever form they choose, of the experience of working with youth leaders to develop and implement a community project to address racism in Erie County.

Qualifications and previous coursework

This opportunity is available to non-graduating students in Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

  • Experience working with youth, especially middle or high-school-age youth, preferred
  • Background in understanding concepts related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or anti-racism

Learning outcomes 

  • Increased understanding of the breadth of curriculum available to teach youth leadership and action planning to address racism
  • Increased ability to develop and implement an experiential learning curriculum
  • New strategies and practices for engaging with youth in a highly interactive youth learning environment