Source: UNIV OF MINNESOTA submitted to
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Sep 1, 2019
Project End Date
Aug 31, 2022
Grant Year
Project Director
Skuza, J.
Recipient Organization
ST PAUL,MN 55108
Performing Department
Non Technical Summary
This program model is unique because it builds on the success of a youth program supported by Somali American youth and their families in Minnesota since 2013. It includes improved program features, a new target audience (teens), a parent program component, and an expansion to two new community sites. Somali American youth and families need programs that celebrate their strengths, cultivate a sense of belonging, build social inclusion, and create opportunities for parents and their teens to develop a closer connection to one another while unifiedly promoting educational and developmental pathways. Specifically, they need opportunities to address what community members have identified as "the cultural gap" between United States teens and their Somali-born parents. In response, the MN 4-H CYFAR team designed a joint youth and family program model that has three key elements:Ka Joog 4-H STEAM Connect Clubs that ignite youth interest in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics and help them imagine and plan their education. The out-of-school time club setting helps youth foster healthy peer relationships. It targets 30 Somali American teens, living in Minneapolis and Moorhead. The clubs are facilitated by two adults and meet twice a week during the school year. Youth develop inquiry skills through engineering-oriented curriculum. The arts empowers youth to preserve Somali culture through performing arts, cultural arts and spoken word. Youth also youth engage in activities that equip them with the mindset and personal leadership skills needed to pursue higher education and careers. Youth also participate in a 4-H Engineer It Day event, community arts events, industry visits, and county or state 4-H showcase events. These field trips are designed to infuse in youth a sense of hope and expectation for their futures and develop a sense of belonging in 4-H that will help sustain the program beyond the life of the CYFAR grant. Participants deepen their learning through a 4-day summer residential campus experience at the University of Minnesota, where they learn about student life, explore academic interests, identify the steps toward college readiness, and meet faculty and students in STEAM fields. Throughout the program, youth develop portfolios that capture their growth over time, and they present them at public showcase events.Parents/guardians participate in 7 sessions of a 2-hour Partnering for School Success togain resources that help them connect with their children and support their education. The curriculum fosters closer parent-child relationships, which are linked to the healthy developmentof adolescents and which help parents see how they play a vital role in helping shape their teens' educational plans. Community leaders will be trained to deliver the curriculum in year 2, with the program taking place in years 3-5.Starting in year 3, youth and parents will participate in two shared programming activities to learn from one another and co-create educational plans.A strength of this model is its collaborative foundation. Extension Youth Development will leverage its resources with the Extension Family Development to implement a holistic model that engages youth and their parents/guardians. Ka Joog, a youth-serving organization that works directly with Somali American youth and their families, has partnered with Extension Youth Development for over 5 years. Together they have established a healthy working relationship. Ka Joog will provide direct access to the target audience along with Wellstone International High School and community stakeholders and leaders in Moorhead.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Knowledge Area
806 - Youth Development;

Subject Of Investigation
6020 - The family and its members;

Field Of Science
3020 - Education;
Goals / Objectives
Participation in youth programs is associated with positive social outcomes such as academic success, positive social relationships and behaviors, reduced problem behavior, and positive identity development (Mahoney, Larson, Eccles, & Lord, 2005). However, Somali American teens, for the most part, do not participate in these programs because families feel it is too disconnected from their Somali identity or because they simply do not know about them (TAYO Consulting Group, 2016). There is a need to engage Somali American teens and families in youth programs to support their and their families' commitment to each other and to staying engaged in learning so that they can traverse a path to educational success and reach their full potential. This is especially important in the context of increased social isolation among Somali youth as a result of anti-Muslim discrimination they experience in schools and communities. This proposed project will address this need.
Project Methods
Short-term results data will be collected through Pre/Post CYFAR Common Measures Surveys in science and technology. We will add additional measures related to awareness, attitudes, confidence, and growth in STEAM competencies, cultural growth, social inclusion, critical thinking and habits that lead to educational success. Survey data collected each fall and spring for 5 years (2019-2024). These data will be maintained in a spreadsheet and analyzed using SAS (SAS Institute) to measure awareness, attitudes, and confidence in learning and education. Fisher exact tests used to evaluate independence of responses in cross-tabulations to test the strengths of relationships between/among variables on local and state project levels (SAS Institute; Rosner, 1995).Short-term data will also be collected through mid-year focus groups facilitated by staff with guided questions that allow youth to check in and articulate their feelings about their learning and interests and gauge their levels of confidence and motivation. These data will be collected each January/February for 5 years (2019-2024). Content analysis will be used to identify themes related to youth feelings about learning and their education.We will also track attendance/participation and retention to determine how participation affects outcomes.

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? Nothing Reported 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.


  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2019 Citation: 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