Authors as Published

Jay A. Mancini, Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Family and Child Development, Virginia Tech; and Lydia I. Marek, Research Scientist, Department of Family and Child Development, Virginia Tech.


Even though substantial resources have been allocated to developing and maintaining community-based programs for children, youth, adults, and families, relatively little is known about how these programs are sustained and what factors lead to or detract from their success. What is known is that many community-based programs have relatively short lives and that once the initial funding base expires many programs do as well. Understanding how and why programs survive and thrive requires an ecological approach to individuals, families, programs, and communities. The following analysis reflects the first phase in a multi-year study of community-based programs. The long-term goals of this research project are to document project longevity and the processes that underlie it, to build a program sustainability conceptual framework, to develop a community-level sustainability assessment device, and to develop an action guide for communities

The Study

The National Youth at Risk Program Sustainability Study is an analysis of 94 community-based projects (School-Age Child Care, Science and Technology Literacy (Sci/Lit), and Coalitions) funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Children Youth and Families At Risk [CYFAR] Initiative) from 1991 to 1998. Sixty-seven (67) of those projects whose funding ended during 1996 are included in this present report which focuses on patterns of project survival and organizational support. Future reports will focus on the additional 27 projects as well as updated information on all sustained Youth at Risk projects. Data for Phase I of the study are taken from project application materials, project closeout reports, Requests for Applications, and telephone interviews with key informants from all 67 projects. Telephone interviews were conducted with at least one person and for most projects with two or more persons who represented Cooperative Extension personnel and community contacts, such as site coordinators, active collaborators, and volunteers. (To request more information concerning methodology, please contact the authors.) Information regarding individual Youth at Risk projects is available at the CYFAR website

The central questions addressed in this brief report are: What is the current status of Youth at Risk projects originally funded by this USDA initiative? What are the dominant ways that projects have continued? What are the past and present roles of Cooperative Extension in supporting community-based projects?

Study Findings

Findings are reported and organized according to:
Current Youth at Risk Project Activity (Level of Project Activity, Current Funding Sources, Project Evaluation, and Role of Collaborators);

Current Role of Cooperative Extension (CES Role as Leaders or Advisors, Support Provided by Local and State CES to Projects, and What Projects Need From State and Federal Extension);

Project Continuity Mechanisms (Community Support, CES Support, User Fees, Grants or Foundation Funding, Modification in Program Depth and/or Breadth); and

Critical Issues in Project Success and Longevity (Funding, Turnover, Staffing, Conflict, Sustainability, Politics, Economy, Receptivity, User Fees).

In addition, an emerging framework for sustaining community-based programs is included. Implications for program sustainability focus upon Vision and Leadership; Collaborations and Partnerships; Community Awareness, Involvement and Needs; Demonstrated Program Impact; Funding; and Staffing. Appendix A provides information on the level of program activity, Cooperative Extension (CES) involvement, and funding patterns for each Youth at Risk project (Status of Youth at Risk Projects) and Appendix B provides a list of related readings.

Current Youth-at Risk (YAR) Project Activity

Activity Level Descriptions
The first analysis task was to index each project's level of post YAR/USDA funding activity. The level of activity at the time of the research was categorized as follows:

Active - Projects whose delivery modes and program content remain the same/similar or have expanded.

Modified Programming - Projects that modified by reducing the amount and type of programming.

Modified sites/participants - Projects that are offering the same type of programming to fewer sites and/or to fewer participants.

Modified Programming and Sites/Participants - Projects that modified the amount and type of programming and reduced the number of and/or are reaching fewer participants.

Inactive - Projects that closed as YAR/USDA funding ended.

Level of Project Activity
Across the 67 projects, 39% are currently active, 9% have modified their programming, 13% have modified their sites/participants, 27% have modified their programming and sites/participants, and 13% are inactive (Table 1). Therefore, 87% of projects funded under the Youth at Risk Initiative are still functioning, one year post USDA funding, although the actual level of that functioning varies substantially. More than one-third are functioning at levels that are the same as or exceed the programming while they were receiving YAR/USDA funding.


 Table 1. Level Of Program/Coalition Activity
Modified   48%
  • Programming
  • Sites/Participants
  • Both Sites/ Participants and Programming

Current Funding Sources
During the course of the 5 years of Youth at Risk funding, projects sought additional financial support from various sources. Our data on post-YAR funding indicate that projects still rely on many different sources for financial backing. Across all sustained projects 72% receive a combination of small grants, fund-raising money, and in-kind donations. Overall 40% receive support from charging user fees, 38% receive support from Cooperative Extension, 38% from community agencies, 38% from large grants, and 28% from schools (primarily to School-Age Child Care programs). User fees are charged in 59% of the child care programs compared to less than 30% for the other types of projects.

Project Evaluation
For the most part evaluation was not a high priority in these projects, even though it was an expectation of the funder. While the desirability to document change as a result of program interventions was recognized, few projects had the capacity to effectively conduct that kind of research. Although expectations from CSREES/USDA were that land-grant University Extension personnel would provide the evaluation capacity, linkages between community projects and universities were uneven. The gap between evaluation needs and evaluation resources was also evident when instruments were considered to be culturally inappropriate for their intended audience. Generally, when it came to allocating time and effort to evaluation versus program and service delivery, the latter received the emphasis.

Because evaluating programs is pivotal to demonstrating merit and documenting program progress we assessed the status of evaluation among sustained projects. Evaluation was indexed in two ways. The first focuses on the current level of effort for sustained projects, and the second focuses on current Cooperative Extension involvement in evaluation research.

Level of Effort
Of the 58 sustained projects, 71% were engaged in some form of evaluation. Of these projects, 90% were assessing youth, parent, and/or staff satisfaction with programs through informal methods or through interviews and surveys. Twenty-four (24%) percent of those conducting satisfaction assessments were also assessing knowledge gained or personal indicators such as well-being, self-esteem, and competence. There also were nine projects (16%) that were conducting evaluation which was required as part of their new funding.

Cooperative Extension Involvement
For one-third (33%) of the sustained projects, Extension was providing leadership in evaluation. In more than half of the cases (59%) CES was not involved in evaluation activities, and in very few cases (less than 6%) Extension acted as a resource for evaluation questions, or it was anticipated that Extension would be involved in future project evaluations. To summarize, it is evident from these data that rigorous evaluation is not common. What is common is soliciting customer satisfaction after some program or service is delivered; typically less focus is placed on outcomes other than feelings of satisfaction with a program or service.

Role of Collaborators
Collaboration has been an important component of these projects. Currently, leadership is shared by collaborators in 36% of sustained projects and in 41% the leadership is provided by a single organization. For 17% of sustained projects collaborators are in an advisory/resource role; and in 5% of the projects there is minimal or no collaboration.

Current Role of Cooperative Extension

CES Role as Leaders and/or Advisors For the most part, general technical assistance support from local Extension is substantial. However, state support varies dramatically. In some instances the support is and was unwavering while in other cases it was given grudgingly. Cooperative Extension (CES) has continued to stay involved in a large majority of sustained YAR projects through providing leadership (24%), sharing leadership responsibilities with community collaborators (21%), or serving in an advisory or resource capacity (40%). Cooperative Extension is minimally or not at all involved in 16% of the sustained projects.

Support Provided by Local and State CES to Projects
Table 2 shows what sustained projects are currently receiving from CES. The principal form of support involves training, followed by technical assistance as it involves proposal development and evaluation, site coordination, and provision of curricula.

 Table 2. CES Support to Sustained Projects
Technical (grant writing/evaluation) assistance34%
Program direction/site coordination33%
Participates in coalition in any capacity24%
Serves in advisory role/liaison22%
Fiscal management12%
Personnel/volunteer supervisor12%

What Projects Need from State and Federal Extension
When personnel from Youth at Risk Projects were asked what they needed from both State and Federal CES, several themes emerged.

From State CES:

  • Projects want more support for evaluation, curriculum development, training, and reporting. They also desire support from their state CES for programs that may not fit the traditional notion of 4-H.
  • Projects want their State CES to recognize the amount of work that was and is involved with administering projects targeting youth at risk. They need release time so that the project is not merely added to their existing workloads.
  • Projects need more assistance in planning for and working towards sustaining their projects (providing state funds, reallocation of resources for at risk programming, grant-seeking, and integrating at risk programming into regular Extension programming).
  • Projects desire a more streamlined budget process that is less cumbersome and makes it easier to access funds with user-friendly budget reports. They need training on guidelines regarding the budget processes. Better communication between county and state offices regarding on-going budget reporting would make the processes more accessible and effective.

From Federal CES level:

  • Projects need more clarity, consistency, and stability in reporting requirements. Formats need to be streamlined so they are less cumbersome and time consuming. These formats need to remain constant throughout the granting period. If changes are needed in reporting information, more lead time needs to be given for these requests. A reduction in redundant information is also needed.
  • Projects need clearer evaluation guidelines and clearly defined impact data when projects begin. Evaluation reporting requirements need to be clear at the beginning of projects with technical assistance offered to get evaluation plans in place prior to funding. If cumulative data are needed, those requests need to be made at the beginning so that appropriate data can be collected throughout the lifecourse of the project.
  • Projects desire increased opportunities for communication with other community-based projects in order to network and share ideas of what is or is not working. Projects want to have lessons learned across projects maximized and disseminated.
  • Projects desire closer contact with CSREES either directly or through the liaisons (University faculty working with CSREES/USDA for administrative and technical support). Projects also desire feedback on reports, input on whether projects are meeting expectations, and generally some regular contact during the course of their funding.
  • Projects need advance notice of trainings, workshops, and conferences for staffing and budgetary considerations.
  • Project staff want more technical assistance and trainings on reporting requirements, evaluation, and sustainability considerations. They also want more training on the budgetary processes, including information on carryover funds for project directors and state fiscal personnel.
  • Projects need to have their funds available in a timely and consistent fashion. They would like a reexamination of the regulations for allowable costs (i.e., food/snacks and transportation for at risk youth).

Project Continuity Mechanisms

In order to understand the processes that lead towards sustainability, we identified efforts made to continue projects. Although there were some distinct differences between project types (School-Age Child Care, Science and Technology Literacy, Coalitions) in terms of the mechanisms employed for their continuity, the following five areas were common across them.

Community & CES Support

Community Support: Leadership, funding, or other resources were provided by agencies, businesses, schools, and/or community coalitions or collaborations to 79% of sustained projects.

Project continuation through collaborator involvement included both state and federal agencies, as well as a number of community agencies, businesses and corporations. Ownership of projects was transferred by being folded into or attaching the project to programs run by the schools, or community agencies, (such as Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCA/YWCA, recreation departments, housing authorities, local businesses, parent groups), or by attaching to a coalition of state government organizations. In a number of cases local schools assumed ownership of projects. Active projects had more community support when compared to modified projects.

CES Support: 38% of sustained projects were provided support by Extension in the form of leadership, personnel, funding, and other non-monetary resources.

Eight YAR projects (14% of sustained projects) were integrated into regular CES programming. Of these 8 projects, all were currently operating at a Modified level with 6 having both a reduction in program and in participants served. In a majority of projects, activities often were not well-integrated with ongoing Extension programs. In a number of instances project activities were seen as quite separate from mainstream 4-H activities. And while agent overload may have been one reason for this separation, another had to do with the sentiment that 4-H programming was not for at risk families. There was both skepticism over whether Extension could deal with at risk programming, and the perception that project-related activities were receiving less support than the mainstream programs. There were those who felt that being separate from regular programming made it more difficult to secure ongoing support, either from Extension or from the community in general.

Funding Streams
The most obvious continuity mechanism is securing additional funding, which occurred via grant-writing activities, the charging of user fees to participants, and/or receiving funding from collaborators. Those projects whose staff began efforts into securing funding early in their projects put a substantial amount of effort into training in and conducting grant-writing as well as approaching other organizations to collaborate in writing proposals.

User Fees: 40% of sustained projects maintain themselves either entirely or largely on participant user fees.

Distinctive to School-Age Child Care projects is the charging of fees for care, which of course is standard for child care no matter where it is found. User fees are the life-blood of these projects. In some cases projects were awarded tax-exempt status (501c3).

Grants or Foundation Funding: 31% of sustained projects were mainly funded through large state or federal grants or through foundation funding.

There was a difference between active and modified projects in that active projects received more grants. Additional funding sources and cost-sharing that sustained project activities included federal child care block grants, state child care councils, state-level housing authority, state human resources departments, and state parks and recreation agencies. Fiscal responsibility for particular program components was sometimes assumed by various organizations, particularly those of coalition projects. Sometimes when grants were received, programs adapted to meet those funder's requirements.


Modification In Program Depth and/or Breadth: 57% of sustained projects were modified in size in order to scale back expenses and personnel needs to maintain programming on decreased funding.

Changes occurred in program content and the number of participants that could be accommodated. In order to remain open some projects modified particular project components, such as the length or depth of summer programs, or taught fewer classes in a program area. The number of individual sites that comprised a project were consolidated, therefore reducing the number of families that were served. Program breadth was sacrificed in a number of instances so that some part of the project could be retained.

Mechanisms Summary
All things considered, the mechanisms used across Youth at Risk projects had a great deal in common. While they may have differed in degree, most projects were similar in that they relied on collaborators to institutionalize projects, down-sized programs, integrated projects into CES programming, and made efforts at securing additional grants. There were important differences as well, in that charging fees, becoming institutionalized by the school, and establishing advisory boards were more typical of the School-Age Child Care projects. Becoming integrated into Cooperative Extension was most typical of Science and Technology Literacy and Coalition projects and shifting responsibility through leadership changes was more typical of Coalition projects.

Critical Issues in Project Success and Longevity

Each person interviewed by telephone was asked to discuss the critical issues that have been a part of their project from the beginning through the time of the interview. Their comments reflect nine critical issue areas. Although these thematic categories are not entirely mutually exclusive, each does provide a slightly different window on the life-cycle of these community projects.
  • Funding: Forty-nine (49%) percent listed having difficulty obtaining funding that would support their project.
  • Turnover: Forty-two (42%) percent of all projects listed administrative/ staff turnover as a difficulty for their projects.
  • Staffing: Thirty-two (32%) percent of all projects listed the need for trained staff and/or having enough quality staff.
  • Conflict: Twenty-six (26%) percent listed conflict between personnel, turf issues in the community, or conflict between program philosophies of the collaborators.
  • Sustainability: Twenty-six (26%) percent listed transition difficulties and/or institutionalization issues for their projects.
  • Politics: Fifteen (15%) percent listed political shifts (which affected funding priorities) at the federal, state, and community levels as a critical issue.
  • Economy: Fourteen (14%) percent saw community and state economic issues as critical to their survival.
  • Community Receptivity: Fourteen (14%) percent listed community acceptance and willingness to support the project as a critical issue. The main focus here is really on the community and what it represents as context for the projects. Areas include: transience of targeted population, diversity, and partnerships.
  • User Fees: Twelve (12%) percent listed difficulty setting adequate user fees; increases in fees that interfere with the original goals of the project (typically by eliminating low-income participants); or resistance of the community toward fee increases


Phase I of the National Youth at Risk Program Sustainability Study initiated an inquiry into the status of community-based programs funded by CSREES. This inquiry examines to what degree projects are currently sustained and highlights what has contributed to their longevity thus far. At this point in the research a significant proportion of these funded projects are currently sustained, though some have had to modify their approach and focus. Of particular note is the role that Extension has had and continues to have in these projects.

Thus far the data provide a beginning understanding of the foundation for program sustainability. These Youth at Risk projects will continue to be studied to further understand the processes that underlie programs sustaining themselves. In addition, community-based programs which were funded through CYFAR (State Strengthening) will also be studied to aid in the expansion of the sustainability framework. The current sustainability framework revolves around Vision and Leadership; Collaborations and Partnerships; Community Awareness, Involvement, and Needs; Demonstrated Program Impact; Funding; and Staffing. This report concludes with these factors as implications for program sustainability.


Based on on-going research and the findings of this study, the following factors are viewed as important to sustaining community-based programs and will contribute to our developing sustainability framework:

Vision and Leadership

  • Leaders must be committed to the long-term goals of the program.
  • Leaders must define and establish the project mission clearly and visibly. As examples, they must demonstrate long range vision and think contextually by incorporating the relationship of their program to the larger community (locally, state-wide, and nationally).
  • Leaders must plan early for how their program will be sustained while developing and implementing a realistic program focus.
  • Leaders need to develop realistic time tables for programs. For example, programs may need to be established at a slower pace than may be desired in order for formal community needs and identification of community resources to be understood.

Collaborations and Partnerships

  • Collaboratives should be directly made up of decision-makers, fiscal partners from industry, business, and/or corporations, representatives from the legal community, as well as others who invest money or who may help with searching for external funding.
  • Collaborators share a common vision with clearly defined outcomes and also have clearly defined roles and responsibilities, and collaboration processes. For example, how are decisions made, how do meetings function, how is membership decided, how are resources shared, how is leadership determined, what are the expectations of the collaboration? Strong, positive relationships exist between collaborators.
  • Collaboratives should have enough lead time to actually design programs to meet common needs rather than forming collaborations after programs are established.
  • Responsibility for developing and contributing program resources is shared. Community Awareness, Involvement, and Needs
  • Programs know community needs (through formal community needs assessments) and continually assess the match between program goals and community needs and resources.
  • The community has been and is aware of program activities and is actively involved in their implementation from the very beginning.
  • Programs know their communities so that they are designed and implemented with an understanding of and attendance to diversity issues.
  • Community resources are clearly identified and continually assessed. These include the gifts, skills and capacities of residents as well as other organizations in their community. Work which is already ongoing in communities is furthered and affirmed.

  Demonstrated Program Impact

  • The effectiveness and efficiency of the program is demonstrated through research.
  • The community, funding sources, and state hierarchy understands that the program is worth their investment in time, space, money, and effort.
  • Evaluation plans are developed prior to program implementation and are integrated with planning and managing programs. This will then enhance the program's ability to carry out successful evaluations that are technically sound and useful.
  • Project outcomes and successes are made known to the community as well as to local and state decision makers and funders.


  • Funding is needed to hire and retain quality staff in order to enhance program continuity.
  • Funds need to be available in a timely manner and secure on a long term basis so that program planning and delivery can be less abstract.
  • Program leaders should be aware of available resources and have a plan for obtaining additional funding early in the life of the project.
  • Funding sources should be streamlined to minimize difficulties in coordinating and managing different funding requirements and paperwork.


  • Program staff need to believe in the vision behind the program and be in vested in making it a success.
  • Low staff turnover is critical so that the program is implemented by a consistent group of people.
  • Staff members should be flexible and creative with their approaches and open to new ideas.
  • Staffing must be carefully matched with program needs. For example, multiple site programs must have on-site coordinators.


AlaskaActiveProvides LeadershipCES and fundraising/ small grants/or in-kind donations
ArizonaModified programmingProvides LeadershipFundraising/ small grants/or in-kind donations
CaliforniaActiveProvides Advising/ResourcesSchool, large grant(s), user fees
Connecticut 1
(Hartford SACC)
Modified sites/participantsProvides Advising/ResourcesCommunity agency(ies), user fees, and school and fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
Connecticut 2
(New Haven Spaces)
Modified sites/participants
Modified programming
Provides Advising/ResourcesCommunity agency(ies), school and fundraising/small grants/ or in-kind donations
Connecticut 3
(Bridgeport RISE)
Modified sites/participants
Modified programming
Provides Advising/ResourcesFundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
Delaware 1
Modified programmingMinimal/No InvolvementCommunity agency(ies), and fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
Delaware 2
Modified sites/participants
Modified programming
Shares LeadershipCES allocates personnel, Community agency(ies), and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
GeorgiaModified sites/participants
Modified programming
Shares LeadershipLarge grant(s), User fees, and small grants/or in-kind donations
GuamModified sites/participants
Modified programming
Provides LeadershipCES allocates personnel
HawaiiActiveProvides LeadershipCES allocates personnel User fees, and small grants/or in-kind donations
Idaho 1
(After School Adventures)
Modified programmingProvides Advising/ResourcesCommunity agency(ies), User fees, and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
Idaho 2
(Just for Kicks)
ActiveProvides Advising/ResourcesUser fees
Illinois 1
(Computer Assisted Learning)
ActiveProvides Advising/ResourcesCommunity agency(ies), User fees, and Fundraising/ small grants/or in-kind donations
Illinois 2
(SACC for Alredo, Sherrard, Westmer)
ActiveProvides LeadershipCES allocates personnel, User fees
IndianaModified sites/participants
Modified programming
Provides LeadershipCES allocates personnel, Community agency(ies), and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
Iowa 1
(Community Coalition)
Iowa 2
(Model City)
Modified programmingProvides LeadershipCES allocates personnel, School and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
Kansas 1
(Caring & Collaborating)
Modified programmingShares LeadershipCES allocates personnel, School and Community agency(ies), Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
Kansas 2
LouisianaActiveShares LeadershipLarge grant(s) and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
MaineActiveProvides Advising/ResourcesCommunity agency(ies), User fees, and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
MarylandModified sites/participants
Modified programming
Provides LeadershipCES allocates personnel, User fees, and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
MassachusettsModified sites/participants
Modified programming
Provides Advising/ResourcesCES allocates personnel, and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
MichiganModified sites/participantsProvides LeadershipCES allocates personnel, School and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
Minnesota 1
Modified programmingMinimal/No InvolvementFundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
Minnesota 2
MississippiActiveProvides Advising/ResourcesLarge grant(s)
Missouri 1
(St. Joseph)
ActiveProvides Advising/ResourcesLarge grant(s) and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
Missouri 2
(Walbridge 4H Adventure Club)
ActiveMinimal/No InvolvementLarge grant(s) and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
MontanaModified sites/participants
Modified programming
Provides Advising/ResourcesFundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
NevadaModified sites/ participantsShares LeadershipCES allocates personnel and Large grant(s)
New HampshireActiveProvides Advising/ResourcesLarge grant(s) and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
New Jersey 1
New Jersey 2
(Camden City Gardening)
ActiveProvides Advising/ ResourcesFundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
New Jersey 3
(Soweto Academy)
ActiveProvides Advising/
CES allocates personnel and Community agency(ies)
New Mexico 1
(Quay Co.)
Modified sites/participantsShares LeadershipCES allocates personnel, School, Large grant(s) User fees, and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
New York 1
(Make a Difference)
Modified sites/participantsProvides LeadershipCES allocates personnel and Community agency(ies)
New York 2
(Rural Family Coop)
Modified sites/participantsProvides Advising/
Community agency(ies), Modified programming User fees, and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
New York 3
(Schools Out)
Modified sites/participants
Modified programming
Provides Advising/
Community agency(ies), School, User fees, and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
North CarolinaActiveShares LeadershipCES allocates personnel and Community agency(ies)
North DakotaActiveProvides Advising/
Large grant(s), User fees, and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
Ohio 1
(Cleveland Peer Volunteer)
Modified sites/participants Modified programmingProvides LeadershipCES allocates personnel, and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
Ohio 2
(Knox Co. 4H)
ActiveProvides LeadershipCES allocates personnel, School, and User fees
Ohio 3
(Athens Co.)
ActiveShares LeadershipCES allocates personnel, School, Large grant(s), User fees, and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
Oklahoma 1
(COA for ASC)
Modified sites/participants
Modified programming
Minimal/No InvolvementCommunity agency(ies) and School
Oklahoma 2
(Adol. Mothers)
Modified sites/participantsShares LeadershipLarge grant(s)
Oregon 1
(Kid Konnect)
Oregon 2
(Mill City/ Gates)
Modified sites/participants
Modified programming
Provides Advising/
School and Fundraising/ small grants/or in-kind donations
PennsylvaniaModified sites/participantsShares LeadershipCES allocates personnel and Community agency(ies)
South DakotaModified sites/participantsShares LeadershipUser fees, and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
Texas 1
Modified sites/participantsMinimal/
No Involvement
Community agency(ies)
Texas 2
(Making the Grade)
No Involvement
Large grant(s) and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
UtahActiveProvides Advising/
CES allocates personnel, School, Large grant(s) and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
Virginia 1
(Giles Sci/Tech)
No Involvement
Community agency(ies), Large grant(s), and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
Virginia 2
(Strong Families)
Modified programmingMinimal/ No InvolvementSchool
Washington 1
Modified sites/participantsProvides LeadershipCES allocates personnel, Community agency(ies), User fees, and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
Washington 2
(Spokane Family Focus)
ActiveProvides LeadershipCES allocates personnel, Community agency(ies), School, Large grant(s), and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
West VirginiaActiveShares LeadershipCES allocates personnel, Community agency(ies)
Wisconsin 1ActiveProvides Advising/
Large grant(s), and Fundraising/small grants/or or in-kind donations
Wyoming 1Modified sites/ participantsMinimal/
No Involvement
User fees and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donations
Wyoming 2
(Wind River)
Modified programmingProvides Advising/
Community agency(ies) and Fundraising/small grants/or in-kind donation



Crane, J.C. (Ed.). (1998). Social Programs that Work. NY: Russell Sage Foundation.

Green, B.L., Mulvey, L., Fisher, H.A. & Woratschek, F. (1996). Integrating program and evaluation values: A family support approach to program evaluation. Evaluation Practice, 17 (3), pp. 261-272.

Hollister, R.B. & Hill, J. (1995). Problems in the evaluation of community-wide initiatives. In Connel, J.P., Kubisch, A.C., Schorr, L.B., & Weiss, C.H. (Eds.). New Approaches to Evaluating Community Initiatives: Concepts, Methods, and Contexts. Washingron, DC: The Aspen Institute.

Kretzmann, J.P. & McKnight, J.L. (1993). Building Communities from the Inside Out. Chicago: ACTA Publications.

Schorr, L.B. (1997). Common Purpose: Strengthening Families and Neighborhoods to Rebuild America. NY: Anchor Books-Doubleday.


Through an annual Congressional Appropriation to the Cooperative State Research, Education, Extension Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture allocates funding for community-based programs for at risk children and their families. Working with Cooperative Extension Services in Land Grant Universities, this Children, Youth and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Initiative currently supports programs in more than 500 communities through 44 State Strengthening Projects. In addition to developing community-based programs, State Strengthening Projects are charged with increasing statewide Extension capacity to serve at risk youth and limited resource families in rural, urban, and suburban areas.

The CYFAR Initiative funds 5 National Children, Youth and Family Networks and CYFERNetÇcollaborations of universities which provide access to research articles, curriculum sources, program materials and training in child care, family resiliency, science and technology, health and collaboration. By funding computers and Internet Connectivity in community-based programs, the CYFAR Initiative promotes the use of technology to improve programs, provide efficient access to educational resources, and provide essential technological skills for youth and adults in at risk environments.

The long-term goals of the CYFAR Initiative are to sustain programming for at risk children and families, and to institutionalize collaboration and application of technology across the Cooperative Extension System.

This report is one product of the CYFAR Evaluation Collaboration, a team of University evaluation researchers assessing impact of CYFAR Initiative programs and providing evaluation assistance to Extension professionals. For information about the CYFAR Initiative, contact Sharon K.B. Wright, Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Phone: 202-720-5075 or
or visit the CYFAR Initiative page at:

About the Authors

Jay A. Mancini is a Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Family and Child Development at Virginia Tech. Dr. Mancini has engaged in evaluation research since the late 1970s. His research has been funded by the Andrus Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation/National Network for Family Resiliency, Virginia Department of Mental Health, U.S. Department of the Air Force, U.S. Department of the Army, and USDA-CSREES. Dr. Mancini's research has been published in a number of scholarly journals including Journal of Marriage and the Family, Human Relations, and Family Relations: Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Studies. or (540) 231-9816.

Lydia I. Marek is a Research Scientist in the Department of Family and Child Development at Virginia Tech. Dr. Marek has been engaged in evaluation research since the early 1990s. Her research has been funded by the U.S. Department of the Army and USDA-CSREES. Dr. Marek is a Certified Family Life Educator (National Countil on Family Relations) and a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Her research has been published in the Journal of Amily Psychotherapy, Family Therapy, and in the book, Looking Back, Looking Forward: Life Course Unfolding of Parenthood. or (540) 231-6306.


The assistance of Elizabeth Koball, Donna P. Brock, Phyllis A. Greenberg, and Allison Galway is greatly acknowledged and appreciated for research implementation and analysis. We would also like to thank the Youth at Risk project staff and community collaborators who gave their time and information to help inform this report.

Reviewed by Novella Ruffin, Extension Specialist, Virginia State University

Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

Publication Date

May 1, 2009