UC ANR 4-H bridges the higher educational gap for Latino youth

The Issue

Latino students constitute 52% of the K-12 public school population in California. In 2014-15, Latino students were less likely to graduate high school than their non-Latinos counterparts. Eleven percent of Latinos ages 25 and older have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 40% non-Latinos in that age group. The Pew Research Center shows that those without a post-secondary degree are more likely to be unemployed than those with, 12.2% vs. 3.8% respectively.

What Has ANR Done?

UC ANR 4-H brought the Juntos program, developed by North Carolina State University, to California to bridge the gap between high school and higher education for 4-H Latinos. Juntos, which means “together” in Spanish, works to unite community partners to provide Latinos with the knowledge needed to promote their high school graduation and attain a higher education. Juntos provides an intensive program via academic coaching, family workshops, 4-H club participation, and a Summer Academy. With support from National 4-H Council, NY Life Foundation and Leavey Foundation, during the summer of 2018 the first CA Juntos 4-H Summer Academy focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) was held at UC Merced. Forty-three Latino youth from seven counties participated in the three-day college and career readiness academy. At the Academy, youth experienced college life and attended workshops. Workshop topics included college admissions, admission essay writing, financial aid, STEM, cultural identity, and much more. Participants also heard from two Latino motivational speakers who shared their personal experiences at college and the obstacles they overcame to graduate.

The Payoff

95% of 4-H Latino youth participants reported they would attend college

The Academy helped 4-H Latino youth develop a sense of belonging in and comfort with higher education. “[Some] of the most memorable experiences [of the Summer Academy] was visiting colleges and universities, [seeing] all the opportunities we have to choose from, making new friends, and meeting people that can help us and also open doors for us in the future," one participant shared. "We enjoy[ed] being part of a friendly community that we know we can count on.” By creating a safe and welcoming environment on a college campus, students were able to see themselves thriving. Thirty-six youth evaluated the Academy and 100% of the youth reported that the Academy taught them ways to achieve their educational/professional goals and gave them confidence that they would be able to go to college. In an informal pre-survey, 42% of Academy participants were planning to attend college, but in the post-survey 95% of the youth reported, “Yes, I will attend college.”


Supporting Unit:

UC ANR 4-H Youth Development Program
Jessica Bautista, Ph.D.; jbautista@ucanr.edu