Core Principles of the Program

Contextual Relevance refers to the degree that the program “makes sense” for the young people participating.

  • The content taught, and the way it is taught, must relate to the everyday lives of the participants.
  • Youth must see how the program is instrumental in achieving the goals they have for themselves.
  • Engaging youth voices in the design of the experience is essential to ensuring contextual relevance.

Experiential Approaches engage youth in activities that allow them to experiment, reflect upon results, and apply what they have learned.

  • An intentional process needs to be in place that ensures that experiential approaches are incorporated into the learning time.
  • A successful outcome of experiential approaches is that youth are able to assist others involved in the program during technology-related service learning projects.

 Family Involvement is essential to ensuring that young people have support along their pathway to higher learning.

  • Youth from families unaware of the process of getting into college will need assistance in completing necessary paperwork required for admission and financial aid.
  • Parents need to have assurance that their child will be welcomed and cared for in a college environment.
  • Building trust with the family is essential, particularly for a program that may involve a college located thousands of miles away.

Community Engagement brings resources to the program that 4-H alone cannot supply.

  • Schools bring access to computer labs.
  • Local government provides venues for service learning.
  • Businesses provide mentors from the technology industry.
  • Community engagement is essential to the sustainability of the program after the initial OJJDP support ends. 

Integrated Service Learning helps participants understand the real world applicability of what they have learned.

  • When young people from vulnerable and marginalized populations begin to believe that their lives have purpose and value, they gain the confidence needed to embark upon new challenges.
  • Programs must have real world relevance that is made apparent through participation in service learning activities such as community mapping, health education and environmental rehabilitation. 
  • Service learning activities help marginalized and disenfranchised youth know they matter.

Trained Mentors are reliable and trustworthy partners in the learning process who help youth gain skills and develop the confidence needed to live successful lives.

  • Mentors can come from many places, depending on the community in which the program is being replicated.
  • Volunteer mentors work directly with youth to build academic and life skills.
  • Volunteers come from the local technology industry, community college, public or private university. 

Cultural Responsiveness refers to the ability of the program to account for beliefs, norms, and values of the target population.  

  • Attention to these items helps build acceptance for the program and make it fit the day-to-day lives of the participants.

STEM Focus addresses the critical shortage skilled labor available to fill 21st century jobs. 

  • Marketing research shows that many Latino families place a high value on careers in science and technology.