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Urban Minority Youth Matters



Authors as Published

Maurice D. Smith Jr., Assistant Professor and 4-H Youth Development Extension Specialist, College of Agriculture, Virginia State University

You Can Engage Urban Minority Youth In Their Communities!

Urban minority youth are boys and girls usually teenage (11-14 years old) who reside in urban areas of 1,000,000 or more of all races or ethnicities. In urban areas, youth are exposed to violence, lack of resources and poverty (Briggs et al., 2012).

Let's Check It Out In Virginia 

Suburbs and cities with a population of over 50,000

Towns/Cities with a population of 10,000 to 50,000

Youth participating from under-represented groups

Numbers from the 4-H Online Enrollment for 2018-2019

Barriers of Urban Minority Youth:

  • Single parent households
  • Violence, crime and incarceration
  • Health and well-being disparities
  • Racial discrimination
  • Stereotype-threats
  • Sexual abuse and drug use
  • Gender identity issues
  • High school dropout rates or poor access to higher education

Youth In High-Risk Urban Communities 

who are ages 11-14 from all races and backgrounds who live in urban areas...

are in the upper 50th percentile for violent crime

and fall in the bottom percentile for median of household income

(Briggs, Grella, Burton, Yarmuth, and Taylor, 2012)

Did You Know About These Factors?


Public health problem affecting urban youth. Witnessing and hearing about violent activity in the community can be stressful to urban youth (McDonald, Deatrick, Kassam-Adams, & Richmond, 2011).


Locations that are affected by limited resources that could include employment, income, transportation, and education (Avent & Jayaratne, 2017).


Families headed by mothers or fathers, and occasionally headed by a grandparent who is raising the grandchildren. Divorce and nonmarital births have increased through the years within these single parent households (Comerford, 2009).


When people are viewed as endangered or being a risk to society among their own social or ethnic group (Steele & Aronson, 1995).


Physical violence that may include slapping or hitting, psychological aggression, sexual violence or even stalking (Briggs, Grella, Burton, Yarmuth, and Taylor, 2012).

What We Can Do?

Click on each speech bubble to learn more.


to focus on building relationships, mentoring, life skill building and cultural awareness


that can increase youth assets and build self-identity


with organizations outside of school to support students’ needs and issues


to raise awareness and increase prevention


Avent, M., & Jayaratne, K. (2017). Factors limiting youth participation in 4-H and other youth development programs in underserved communities. Journal of Extension, 55(4), Article 4RIB8. Available at: 

Briggs, M. Grella, L., Burton, T.A., Yarmuth, M., & Taylor, T. (2012). Understanding and engaging key influences of youth in high-risk urban communities: A review of the literature. Social Marketing Quarterly, 18(3), 203-220. Doi: 10.1177/152450041240669

Cohen, A. K., Littenberg-Tobias, J., Ridley-Kerr, A., Pope, A., Stolte, L. C., & Wong, K. K. (2018). Action civics education and civic outcomes for urban youth: An evaluation of the impact of Generation Citizen. Citizenship Teaching & Learning, 13(3), 351–368.

Comerford, L. (2009) Single- Parent Households. In J. O’Brien (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Gender and Society (Vol. 2, pp. 794-799). Thousand Oaks, Ca: SAGE Publications.

McDonald, C.C., Deatrick, J.A., Kassam-Adams, N., & Richmond, T.S. (2011). Community violence exposure and positive youth development in urban youth. Journal of Community Health, 36(6), 925-932. Doi: 10.1007/s10900-011-9391-5

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.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is a partnership of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments. Its programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, sex (including pregnancy), gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, military status, or any other basis protected by law

Publication Date

June 9, 2020

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