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Culture and diversity

American communities are experiencing phenomenal growth of ethnic and cultural diversity. Learn ways to develop cultural competencies in your youth program.

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!

  • 2/17

    For LGBT youth, safe spaces can be hard to find

  • Joseph Rand

    About two years ago, students at Becker High School in rural Minnesota created a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). These students wanted a space where they could be themselves, connect and feel safe in a town where they often feel they don't fit in and can't express their true identities. For adolescents, access to safe spaces is a crucial part of development and exploring self-identity. For youth programs, this is a fundamental concern.

    While physical safety is the foundation of the YPQA pyramid from the Center for Youth Program Quality, emotional safety is also of crucial importance. Only when youth feel emotionally and physically safe are they able to present themselves in an authentic way and engage in positive development. Without that authenticity, true development cannot take place.

    Read more.


  • 11/16

    How to foster youth empathy

  • Rebecca Meyer

    Lots of recent events have me wondering how to encourage and foster empathy. Empathy is when one person is able to understand how another person is feeling. This sense of understanding is not something we are born with, it is a skill that we learn. The ability to empathize is critical because it allows us to understand other people. It's an opportunity to show caring and compassion; one of the 5 C's of positive youth development. And, it's an essential skill for creating an inclusive world.

    Read more.


See all culture and diversity blog posts

Reports & journal articles

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.

The What, How, and Why of 21st Century Urban Youth Development

Produced by Extension: Josey Landrieu and Jessica Pierson Russo
This publication presents an overview of Minnesota's urban 4-H model for youth development. It illustrates how the model defines urban youth development, the elements of how to implement such a model, and the reasons why urban youth development can act as a vehicle to address educational disparities and provide meaningful and impactful learning opportunities to all young people. 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.(PDF) 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.

What we're reading

From journals and the popular media. Selected by our culture & diversity professor Jennifer Skuza


See more

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

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. Read more.

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. Read more.
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