Progress 09/01/19 to 08/31/20
Target Audience:Background Information on Target Audience Somali American Youth and Families Living in Minneapolis and Moorhead, Minnesota Minnesota has a unique opportunity for cultural programming geared toward reaching an underserved audience--Somali American teens. Minnesota is home to one of the world's largest Somali diaspora populations, with the population at about 57,000 (Yusuf, 2012). Nearly all Minnesota Somalis are either refugees or children of refugees. Minneapolis has the largest Somali population in the state, and adults and youth indicate a sense of belonging there among people with shared Somali identities. However, youth feel isolated from mainstream society. In Moorhead, the Somali community is growing in a densely populated city that is situated in a rural area (4 hours from Minneapolis) in which youth and families experience social isolation and have been recently targeted by terrorist organizations. Somali American teens in Minnesota are seeking protection from anti-Muslim acts and belonging and closeness with their family and Somali community. Their Somali identity invites discrimination by the dominant culture and their American identity promotes family tension. This fragmented sense of identity influences their engagement in education. Youth and family work has long been a venue for creating positive social change. The program model proposed here was co-developed by University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development, University of Minnesota Extension Center for Family Development, and Ka Joog, a Somali American youth-serving organization. Ka Joog means "to resist" in Somali, referring to the importance of resisting negative influences. Extension and Ka Joog organizations have been partnering for over five years and have produced impactful programming that reaches an underserved population in Minnesota - Somali American teens. Changes/Problems: The project team responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by transitioningall team meetings and programming to an online platform in March 2020 until further notice. We also had staffing changes within our partner organizations. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?Project team training on evaluation and program development methods. Training also included yoiuth development principles and cultural contexts for target audiences. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?
What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?Year 1 of the project was the pilot and planning phase (this current reporting year). Year 2 will be project implementation in Minneapolis and program planning (and community building) in Moorhead, MN. The project team will be October 1, 2020 to kick off the second year and subgroups will meet regularly throughout the year to maintain momentum.The team will also attend the virtual CYFAR Professional Development Event October 13-16, 2020 in order to learn more about program development and sustainability.
What was accomplished under these goals?
Program Implementation The first year of this grant funded project is a planning year. On September 1, 2019, the Minnesota CYFAR team commenced its planning year and worked towards a January 2020 youth program pilot implementation. On October 1, 2019 a team meeting was held at which 4 community members (one of whom was a youth), two University Minnesota partners, and nine Extension staff members. Between 9/1/19-11/30/19, the co-PI held monthly meetings with Ka Joog project specialist, to support program design, the recruitment of youth and families, and buying program supplies and curricula. In November, the CYFAR team collaboratively developed a volunteer training program (implemented 12/19/19). The pilot project continued through the time of reporting (July 2020) and the team navigated transitioningto online programming due to COVID-19. The team also carried our a virtual campus immersion experience in July 2020. Community Integration Community engagement is at the center of the program design process. And, working in partnership with community is a vital part of this model's foundation. We want the team to continually view this project as a fluid entity that molds to the needs and assets of the community. Just as Extension, as a partner, helps other organizations do what they cannot do alone, our partners help us do what we cannot do alone. This is all in the spirit of doing "with" rather than "for" or "to". That way, the needs and assets of the community drive the direction of this program model. In result of this commitment, weekly planning meetings took place at Minneapolis community site. Two additional community members were invited (by the Ka Joog project specialist) to lead the delivery of the Ka Joog 4-H STEAM Clubs. Community leaders led the recruitment of youth and families through one-to-one family meetings and personal invitations. Technology Integration The project team purchased iPads with STEAM apps loaded onto them for the pilot program. The Pre-Surveys were also loaded on the iPads for youth in the Pilot program that began in January 2020. We are using these tools to improve data collection strategies and as a way to leverage technology with the learning environment. The project team also met via Zoom and piloted technologies that could be used in team meetings and program pilots. Sustaining Sustainability is guided by five main factors: 1) having a program agreement in place, 2) strong partnerships with Ka Joog, UMN Twin Cities College Readiness Consortium, UMN Crookston chancellor's office and the sites, 3) strong team that collaborates, 4) core groups of adult volunteer and youth leaders, and 5) project is embedded in MN 4-H Youth Development and Ka Joog. A program agreement was drafted outlining the roles and responsibilities of each team member from the University of Minnesota Extension and Ka Joog. Ka Joog staff became screened 4-H volunteers. 4-H staff attended community meetings in Cedar Riverside (the Minneapolis site) to understand the needs and assets of the Somali community. A professional service agreement was also created which details the Ka Joog staffing structure and the invoice timeline to the University. Team building is regular part of the project's team practice. And, each partner has a unique contribution that they bring to the success of this project. Adult volunteers are screened and trained using the MN 4-H volunteer systems. Team members are actively involved in volunteer and youth recruitment. Lastly, this project is embedded into the MN 4-H Youth Development program and Ka Joog, which allows the project to benefit from the resources and strengths of each organization. The program was scheduled to take place in a community center, was set to be led by adults in the community.
Skuza, J. A. (2019). Teens in the Somali Diaspora: An Evaluative Program Study. Journal of Youth Development Special Issue: Perspectives on Immigrant, Refugee, and Border Youth 14 (2). Retrieved at https://jyd.pitt.edu/ojs/jyd/article/view/19-14-02-PA-02