National Program Highlights

Extension Programming to Address Urban Issues

Urban Case Study Series Overview

For over a century, Extension has fulfilled its mission of working with community to bring local knowledge and science-based information together to co-create solutions for wellbeing. Extension has increasingly recognized the unique context of engagement in urban communities to improve social, economic, and environmental conditions (Crossgrove et al., 2005; Gaolach et al., 2017).

To better understand and expand upon programming in urban communities, qualitative research provided a foundation for a series of cases presented in program snapshots. The cases selected for this study incorporate urban context and strategy (NUEL, 2015), as well as elements of wellbeing (Rath, Harter, & Harter, 2010).

This case study was conducted to inform a book chapter on Extension Programming to Enhance Urban Wellbeing for the book titled "The Role of the Social Sciences in Extension" published by Cambridge University Press in 2022. This case study research aims to help urban Extension leaders and other social scientists better understand:

  • The real-life context of urban Extension in communities across the country.
  • Urban Extension strategies, programs, and impacts as illustrated in alignment with the National Urban Extension Leaders (NUEL) framework (Di Ciantis, 2015).
  • Meaningful connection between urban Extension and the urban perspective in social science.
  • Opportunities to further advance how Extension addresses the urban context in ways that result in Extension being relevant locally, responsive statewide, and recognized nationally.

Case Studies

Extension has fulfilled its mission of working with community to bring local knowledge and science-based information together to co-create solutions for wellbeing. Extension has increasingly recognized the unique context of engagement in urban communities to improve social, economic, and environmental conditions (Crossgrove et al., 2005; Gaolach et al., 2017). To better understand and expand upon programming in urban communities, qualitative research provided a foundation for a series of cases presented in program snapshots.

RUTGERS 4-H STEM ambassador program 

Despite modest gains in the last 25 years, racial and ethnic minority workers continue to be underrepresented in the STEM workforce (Chiappinelli et al., 2016). To address career wellbeing, the Rutgers 4-H STEM Ambassador Program engages urban youth from groups underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). The program has three primary focus areas a) STEM exposure, skill development, and identity, b) college readiness and access, and c) leadership and contribution.

Link to a Snapshot of the 4-H STEM Ambassador Program
Link to the Complete 4-H STEM Ambassador Case Study

Produce perks IN Cleveland, Ohio

To address food security for physical and community wellbeing the Cleveland-Cuyahoga Food Policy Coalition (FPC), co-led by the local Ohio State University (OSU) Extension team, initiated the Produce Perks, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) incentive program which offers a dollar-for-dollar match on the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables to all SNAP participants. City, county, and foundation partnerships were an important foundation for the program. This gradual expansion positioned the program to consistently serve 1,000 families per year. This translates to over $2 million dollars being funneled into farm businesses, and the state economy, each year.

Link to a Snapshot of Produce Perks
Link to the Complete Produce Perks Case Study

University of Idaho Extension Diabetes Prevention Program 

Diabetes affects approximately 30.3 million people (CDC, 2017). According to a study of the 50 most populous U.S. cities, racial disparity in diabetes mortality was consistently observed in almost every major city (Rosenstock, et al., 2014). Neighborhood-level conditions related to social and physical health are associated with the prevalence of diabetes in urban populations (Cuesta, et al., 2019). To address health and physical wellbeing in urban Idaho, Extension faculty and staff participated in a CDC National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) training to become certified DPP Healthy Lifestyle Coaches. UI Extension partners with over 20 state agencies, employers, schools, health organizations and individuals to market, recruit, and offer the program.

Link to a Snapshot of the Diabetes Prevention Program
Link to the Complete Diabetes Prevention Program Case Study

fostering sustainability at the community level

Sustainable urban development is essential for protecting the natural environment as well as the wellbeing of people and the society at large (Bai et al., 2012; Kaur & Garg, 2019). To address community wellbeing in the Tampa Florida metropolitan area, Extension focused on fostering sustainability at a community level. Multiple local municipalities and a plethora of partners make it much more complicated to address and navigate multifaceted issues that often cross geographic borders. A regional specialized agent in urban sustainability with the University of Florida/IFAS Extension developed, implemented, and evaluated educational programs and initiatives to promote sustainability.

Link to a Snapshot of the Fostering Sustainability Program
Link to the Complete Fostering Sustainability Case Study

CEntral kentucky job club 

According to the Urban Institute, work is at the heart of our most important social issues and public policy debates. To advance career wellbeing a Central Kentucky Job Club was created. Following a community assessment that determined that no other organization offered a free community job search program, Job Club was created in 2012 to provide free resources to those who were facing joblessness - many for the first time. Job Club was designed to improve employability skills needed to compete in today’s workplaces.

Link to a Snapshot of the Job Club Program
Link to the Complete Job Club Case Study

In addition to these cases, more urban Extension programs are featured in the May, 2022 urban-themed issue of the Journal of Human Sciences and Extension (JHSE) and the National Registry of Cooperative Extension Programs & Assets.