Utah State University Extension was recently awarded $8.6 million in grants to support programs that help Utahns become self-reliant and that help children, adults and families be successful. The three-year grants were awarded by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program through the Division of Workforce Services (DWS), the state agency responsible for administering the TANF funds.

According to DeeVon Bailey, USU College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences associate dean for research, the DWS administered a competitive grant process this summer, and approximately 300 proposals were submitted by organizations around Utah for new programs or existing programs that could be expanded.

“USU Extension faculty members turned in 51 grant applications for separate projects, and 20 of the proposals were funded,” Bailey said. “Extension is uniquely positioned to provide services to support Utah families, and $8.6 million in grants will make a huge impact on programs that already have a track record of making a difference. This will help us enhance Extension programs and reach more individuals in more communities.”

The funded programs will be available to anyone in the state who wants to participate. They will be based in 11 counties, including Cache, Utah, Duchesne, Garfield, Kane, Morgan, Salt Lake, Sanpete, Sevier, Wasatch, and Wayne; though many of the programs will also be implemented in other counties. Programs must support at least one of the four purposes set by TANF regulations: 1) provide assistance to needy families so children may be cared for in their own homes or in the homes of relatives; 2) reduce dependency of needy parents by promoting job preparation, work and marriage; 3) prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies; and 4) encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.

Brian Higginbotham, USU Extension associate vice president, said the programs that received funding support these goals and include such areas as parenting and relationship skills and financial management, with the bulk of the funding being for USU Extension 4-H youth programs.

“The 4-H program is able to help youth in a variety of ways in every county in the state,” he said. “From maker clubs to afterschool programs to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs, state agencies know they can trust USU Extension 4-H to make a difference in the lives of children and prepare them to be successful adults.“

Vice President for USU Extension and Agriculture Ken White said the grant funding will be a tremendous help to Extension programming throughout the state.

“I am pleased not only with the number of grant awards given to USU Extension, but also with our faculty, administration and support staff who rallied to put together a wide array of proposals for consideration,” he said. “These grant awards show we have exceptional programs and extraordinary professionals who run them, and this will be of great benefit to the citizens of Utah.”