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AHS and 4-H Colleagues Receive $1.2M Grant From CYFAR

Dr. Autumn Guin in collaboration with Amy Chilcote and Dr. Misty Blue-Terry were recommended for funding for a joint Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Sustainable Community Grant for a project entitled Robots, Energy and Agriscience: Advancing Equity and STEM Growth Mindset in Rural STEM Education. The Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Grant Program allocates funding provided by congressional appropriation to land-grant university Cooperative Extension for comprehensive community-based programs for children, youth, and families from marginalized low-income communities”.

Dr. Autumn Guin
Dr. Misty Blue-Terry
Amy Chilcote

The team was awarded the $1.28 million grant from Dr. Bonita Williams, National Program Leader for Vulnerable Populations, Division of Youth and 4-H, USDA/NIFA/IYFC. Guin states that “The grant will allow us to implement research-based STEM curricula in grades 6-8 in rural communities in four NC counties, bring youth in these communities to both NC State and NC A&T State to meet with research faculty, and develop a statewide robotics competition.” 

The proposed project will equip middle school youth to explore and determine their own sparks by intentionally exposing them to multiple STEM domains across formal and nonformal settings. The project further supports youth development through an emphasis on safe, structured, and supportive environments beyond the classroom walls. The robotics components will introduce youth to engineering and coding in an environment that values iteration and productive failure. Finally, the project will support youth by incorporating family and community-focused components.

NIFA funded 13% of the CYFAR proposals that were received this year and NC State was one of the 23 proposals submitted. Guin adds “Our team is overjoyed about this opportunity to collaborate across NC State and NC A&T State University to address equity in STEM education for middle school youth in our rural communities.” 

To learn more about the grant, please visit: 

Abstract of the Grant:

Children, Youth, and Families At-Risk (CYFAR) Sustainable Community Projects

Title of Project: Robots, Energy, & Agriscience: Advancing Equity and STEM growth mindset in rural STEM education (NCSU & NC A&T Joint CYFAR SCP Proposal)

Principal Investigators: Amy Chilcote, M.S., Misty Blue-Terry, Ph.D., Autumn Guin, Ph.D.

The proposed project includes a comprehensive STEM educational program for middle school youth in 4 rural North Carolina counties. Inequities in education are “most apparent during the current events surrounding COVID-19 as many students and educators struggle to adapt to the provision of and participation in online learning systems” (Guin, 2020, p.14-15). Learning loss is “greatest among low-income, black, and Hispanic students” (Dorn et al., 2020, p. 4). Creating effective educational interventions for youth to lead the nation’s growing STEM-reliant economy is an issue of national security (OSTP, 2018). The proposed project leverages resources and personnel to serve middle school aged youth, teachers, non-formal educators, and families. With the CYFAR Philosophy (2017) and the 4-H Youth Development approach at the center, this project “focuses on the needs of young people–considering the whole young person, not just a single characteristic or problem.” The proposed project uses existing research-based and nationally peer reviewed and recognized 4-H middle school curricula to 1) Create and implement a formal and nonformal education program to increase student knowledge, skills and attitudes in STEM among middle school youth that focus on robotics, energy, and agriscience; 2) Strengthen rural middle teachers STEM teaching efficacy including the use of hand-on educational strategies to better serve vulnerable families and communities; and 3) Promote family engagement and learning through non-formal program efforts and community events. A multi-faceted formative and outcome evaluation which uses the strengths of the CYFAR cross-site evaluation common measures will ensure the project meets these objectives.