Urban Extension in New York City
Friday, May 01st, 2015
On Tuesday, April 7th, there was an urban extension webinar, titled "Delivering Extension Programs to the City". The presentation was given by Dr. Jennifer Tiffany, Director of Outreach and Community Engagement at Cornell University's Cooperative Extension - New York City. The purpose of the presentation was to explain the ways in which Cornell Extension is able to impact a city as large as New York City, and share strategies that Extension in other states can use for their urban programming. New York City, as of the 2010 census, had 8.2 million residents. The estimated population as of 2014 is roughly 8.5 million, and the metropolitan area population exceeds 20 million residents. The amount of people, per Extension staff member, is approximately 1 to 160,000, which is cause for a different approach than might be handled in a rural county. Another obstacle that Extension New York City faces is how far away Cornell is from the population base. Ithaca New York, is a four hour drive from NYC, making "day trips" inconvenient to say the least. All of these barriers have created a need for strategic planning on behalf of the Extension offices in the City. A factor that has been beneficial to Cornell Extension in NYC is the presence of Cornell in the city, as there are multiple colleges within the university that are present, and have partnered with Extension, assisting their programming in a multitude of ways. The motto of NYC Extension is "bridging research and community needs." To do this, they have made a directed effort in creating partnerships, connections, and long term collaborations with local entities and groups. These relationships are often informal, on more of a word-of-mouth basis, but there are also many formal connections. These partnerships extend to proactively address the growing concerns within the city, and have resulted in accessing different groups of people, mostly first generation Americans, that were previously unreachable. By focusing on particular community based localization and specific neighborhoods, they have been able to develop a certain level of trust that enables ling term programming, and diversifies connections. All of these endeavors have been in the pursuit of sustainable Extension work in cities. For NYC, this has been being able to adapt programming, sustain change, and sustain processes of incubation and innovation that can be handed off to well-developed programs and partners when it is time to start a new program. This model has been crucial to the continued success of Extension in NYC, and should been seen as a catalyst for program development in urban areas across the country.