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University of Minnesota Extension

4-H clover Urban Youth Lead

Through Urban Youth Lead, Minnesota 4-H partners with schools, agencies, organizations, and volunteers to build sustainable leadership programs that meet the unique needs of urban youth. Urban Youth Lead is a leadership development program designed to expose young people to the worlds of higher education and careers by using an innovative youth development approach. Influenced by educational philosopher Paulo Freire, this approach allows youth to build awareness and leadership skills so that ultimately, they discover how they are the authors of their own lives. 

Partners in Urban Youth Lead receive

  • Access to University of Minnesota resources such as the Minnesota 4-H Youth Development program and research-based curriculum
  • Access to interns and volunteers to support program development and delivery
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Research-based guide that provides a framework and curriculum to help program leaders build an intentional learning environment that facilitates youth leadership development
  • Year-long program support designed to build and maintain program quality
  • Annual evaluation that assesses the program's impact on youth leadership


Although Urban Youth Lead was originally created with adolescents in mind, it is up to the youth and the program leaders they work with to decide how they want to apply Urban Youth Lead. 


See the map for a list of our current programs and partners.

For program information and questions    

Jessica Pierson Russo
Phone: 612-624-7625

In May 2006, Minnesota Urban 4-H Youth Development was nationally recognized by the Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services (BRYCS) in Washington, DC as a promising youth development practice. 

Reviewed in 2018

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