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CYFAR Program Overview

Through an annual Congressional appropriation for the National Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Program, NIFA allocates funding to land-grant university extension services for community-based programs for at-risk children and their families. Since 1991, CYFAR has supported programs in more than 600 communities in all states and territories. State and local public and private organizations have contributed cash and in-kind resources that match or exceed the federal appropriation.

The CYFAR Program is based on research on effective programs for at-risk youth and families and on the human ecological principle of working across the lifespan in the context of the family and community. To assure that critical needs of children and families are met, CYFAR supports comprehensive, intensive, community-based programs developed with active citizen participation in all phases. CYFAR promotes building resiliency and protective factors in youth, families, and communities.

CYFAR supports collaboration--forming lasting partnerships to achieve greater outcomes and to provide a support base for sustaining programs for those at risk. CYFAR also 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.

State Projects

Sustainable Communities (SCP) projects serve as the NIFA mechanism for funding community-based projects and expanding statewide capacity for supporting and sustaining programming for at risk youth and families. NIFA currently provides funding to 42 land-grant university extension services for SCP projects. These community programs serve 26,600 youth ages pre-K to 19 and their parents. These state CYFAR projects call for collaboration across disciplines, program areas, and geographic lines, as well as a holistic approach that views the individual in the context of the family and community.

In the interest of sustaining and expanding community programs for at-risk children and families, the CYFAR Initiative also funds a broad variety of support and technical assistance including:


A new and innovative evaluation capacity-building website, CYFERnet SEARCH, has recently been launched by the CYFERnet Evaluation Team at the University of Arizona.  The CYFERnet SEARCH site offers numerous interactive features including online logic model and survey builders, which are designed to support and enhance program evaluation capacity.  Additional resources on the website include a listing of the seven CYFAR approved common measures (including psychometrics) in the areas of leadership development, nutrition, parenting, physical activity, science, technology, and workforce preparation;  interactive learning modules addressing a variety of evaluation topics; and additional evaluation instruments that assess a wide variety of constructs.  The website was developed to support the overall Children, Youth and Families at Risk (CYFAR) initiative, however the site is also available for use by the general public.

Children, Youth, and Families Education

CYFERnet is a national network of land grant university faculty and county Extension educators working to provide resources to community educational programs for children, youth, and families. CYFERnet works across all land-grant universities to solicit and review publications, quality research information and program materials for Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) staff and others implementing programs. More than 30 universities collaborate on CYFERnet. Anyone can submit educational materials to CYFERnet for review and web publication.

Computers and Internet Connectivity

NIFA provides computers, electronic access, and training in essential technology skills to staff, youth, and adults in CYFAR community program sites.

CYFAR Liaisons

University faculty provide technical assistance to CYFAR community and state projects and link them to resources of CYFERnet and NIFA. These CYFAR liaisons also provide feedback to NIFA regarding impact and needs of community programs for at-risk youth and families.



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