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Equity, culture and diversity

Communities in the U.S. are experiencing phenomenal growth of ethnic and cultural diversity, as well as increasing disparities. Equity and inclusion are key elements and core values in promoting youth success. Learn ways to develop cultural competencies and create conditions for everyone to participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.

Comments on this page? Curator: Jennifer Skuza, PhD, assistant dean

Youth Development Insight

Our faculty blog about research, issues and trends in the field. Join the conversation!

  • 5/17

    Make change with a cultural exchange

  • Somali girls petting a horseKathryn Sharpe

    Do you want to create an exchange opportunity for youth that goes beyond a "tourist" experience? Or maybe you want to bring together diverse groups within your community for a meaningful encounter? The 4-H Cultural Exchange model provides an avenue to fulfill these goals.

    Having facilitated multiple cross-cultural experiences with young people, I've seen the transformative potential, as well as the big challenges that they can bring. I've learned that it's critical to provide intentional preparation for these experiences so that the young people can dive beyond the surface level. Read more about cultural exchanges.


  • 4/17

    How to shatter the stereotypes that hold back Somali youth

  • Somali boys and girls in a libraryJoanna Tzenis

    Before you read this, type "Somali youth Minnesota" into your Google search engine. Take a look at the stories that populate and see if you see a pattern.

    Did you do it? What did you notice? What did you learn?

    I'm not trying to direct you to other sources of information about the Minnesota's biggest immigrant group. Instead, I want to draw your attention to an issue hindering the positive development of Somali American youth in Minnesota. Read more about ending stereotypes.


See all culture and diversity blog posts

Reports & journal articles

Special Issue: How Culture Matters in Afterschool Programs for Adolescents

Guest Editors: Reed Larson and Bic Ngo
The goal of this special issue of the Journal of Adolescent Research is to examine how issues related to culture (including race, immigration, and intersecting dimensions) matter to the effectiveness of afterschool programs and staff practices. 2017.

Equity and Inclusion: An Action Agenda for Youth Development Professionals

Jennifer Siaca Curry
This article provides immediate action steps, introducing six strategies that comprise an action agenda for youth development professionals in OST settings to fight discrimination and help youth value their own and others’ identities. 2017.

Positive Youth Development as a Strategy for Addressing Readiness and Equity: A Commentary

Karen Pittman
In this commentary, the author reflects on our ability to improve social skill growth among trauma-exposed children and reinforces the importance of continuing to link positive youth development to the tenets of program quality and self-transformation. 2017.

Advancing Equity in Youth Development: A Call to Action in a Changing World

Produced by Extension: Kathryn Sharpe
This paper is included in Moving Youth Work Practice Forward: Looking Back to Move Forward, a collection of working papers produced by the NorthStar Youth Worker Fellowship. 2016.

Investing to Improve the Well-Being of Vulnerable Youth and Young Adults: Recommendations for Policy and Practice

Barbara Hanson Langford, Sue Hoag Badeau and Lyman Legters
This publication explores the important role and responsibility of each youth-serving system in supporting well-being for youth and young adults and presents a new framework for well-being for young people, highlighting the various domains of well-being and the role of families, communities, and public systems in supporting well-being. It also includes a series of concrete and actionable recommendations for youth system leaders, policymakers, and public and private funders for improving policy and practice to support the well-being of youth who are transitioning to adulthood. 2015.

Socialization of Culture and Coping with Discrimination Among American Indian Families: Examining Cultural Correlates of Youth Outcomes

Miwa Yasui, Thomas J. Dishion, Elizabeth Stormshak and Alison Ball
This study examines the interrelations between observed parental cultural socialization and socialization of coping with discrimination, and youth outcomes among a sample of 92 American Indian adolescents and their parents in a rural reservation. 2015.

Culturally Responsive 4-H Youth Development in Southeast Alaska

Debra Jones and Linda Skogrand
This publication looks at 4-H programming in remote rural Alaska. It highlights the importance of establishing 4-H programs within the context of culture, language and spirituality, building relationships outside of the village and promoting youth leadership. 2014.

Exploring socio-cultural factors that mediate, facilitate, & constrain the health and empowerment of refugee youth

Sara Edge, K. Bruce Newbold, Marie McKeary
This article contributes to a better understanding of how refugee youth themselves define and contextualize health, with particular emphasis given to socio-cultural factors that enable or constrain health promotion efforts and individual health agency. 2014.

Youth Development Through Mentorship: A Los Angeles School-Based Mentorship Program Among Latino Children

Ryan Coller and Alice Kuo
This article describes the development and evaluation of the Youth Empowerment Program (YEP), a sustainable, high-quality, SBM program among urban Latino students in Los Angeles. 2014.

Supporting Youth with Special Needs in Out-of-School Time: A Study of OST Providers in New Jersey

Jane Sharp, Elizabeth Rivera Rodas, Alan Sadovnik
Although the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires accommodations for individuals with disabilities in community settings, many out-of-school time (OST) programs struggle to successfully support youth with special needs. Based on the premise that inclusion is beneficial for children with and without special needs, this study explores the role of OST providers in successfully supporting youth with special needs. 2012.

Examining the Potential of Community-Based After-School Programs for Latino Youth

Nathaniel Riggs, Amy Bohnert, Maria Guzman, Denise Davidson
Results are presented from two pilot studies examining the potential influence of community-based after-school programs (ASPs) on regionally diverse Latino youth of varying ages. 2010.

The After-School Needs and Resources of a Low-Income Urban Community: Surveying Youth and Parents for Community Change

Rebecca Cornelli Sanderson and Maryse Richards
Using a collaborative research approach, this project describes a partnership between community residents and university researchers to develop a comprehensive survey of the after-school needs of a low-income urban community in a large Midwestern city. 2010.

Gender, Ethnicity, Development and Risk: Mentoring and the Consideration of Individual Differences

N. Darling, G. A. Bogat, T. A. Cavell, S. E. Murphy, B. Sanchez
Journal article on how the effectiveness of mentoring programs may be affected by each protege's culture, age and gender. 2006.

Understanding the experiences of immigrant adolescents: Acculturation is not the same as assimilation

Produced by Extension: Jennifer Skuza in In P. Witt & L. Caldwell (Eds.), Recreation and youth development.
This book chapter provides a deeper understanding of acculturation and what it means to immigrant adolescents. 2005.

Diversity & inclusion short films

Produced by the Extension Center for Youth Development diversity and inclusion shared learning cohort.

The Extension Center for Youth Development diversity and inclusion shared learning cohort provided a year-long staff development opportunity to 15 staff members. The cohort focused on a digital media campaign to facilitate the transformation process within the organization as it strives to serve more diverse audiences across the state. Topics of the films include building partnerships across cultures, culturally responsive youth-adult partnerships, serving youth with disabilities, religious inclusion and working with immigrant youth.

Click here for a discussion guide to accompany these films.

Reaching Youth with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

Youth-Adult Partnerships in Community

Working with American Indian Communities

Adapting to Serve Youth with Special Needs

Fostering Religious Inclusion

Collaborating to Engage Immigrant Communities

Building Partnerships to Reach Diverse Youth

Our past presentations

What is your definition of American Indian? (YD Brown Bag Webinar Series)

Produced by Extension: Kyra Paitrick
Explore our own cultural biases and learn how culturally responsive youth work practices can create a sense of belonging and empowerment in children and youth in our programs. 2016.

Culturally Responsive Youth Work Matters (YD Brown Bag Webinar Series)

Produced by Extension: Josey Landrieu and Cece Gran
Explore our own cultural biases and learn how culturally responsive youth work practices can create a sense of belonging and empowerment in children and youth in our programs. 2012.

The Role of Race and Ethnicity in Mentoring Relationships

Dr. Bernadette Sanchez
An overview of research about the effects of gender, age, ethnicity and culture on mentoring. Sanchez provides examples of how these factors may have different influences on outcomes for specific groups of youth. 2007.
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