Partnering has become a growing strategy within the Minnesota Extension 4-H program to support a strong organizational commitment to reach all youth with opportunities to learn, lead, and contribute. A partnership approach requires recognizing the unique contexts in which youth live. Since not all communities are the same, adaptable partnership approaches are essential to developing programs that are responsive to diverse communities. These approaches require staff skills and perspectives that recognize how, with partnerships, we can do better together what each entity could not do alone. Staff with a partnership mindset help pave that pathway. To learn about what a partnership mindset entails and how organizations can support its development, the authors completed a literature review and collected survey data from 32 4-H staff who had successfully developed viable community partnerships to support youth programming in Minnesota, reaching new and typically underserved audiences. Merging youth development research with our survey results, we found that a partnership mindset included persistent effort, effective relationship skills, transparent communication methods, and adaptability. We also learned that organizations can support successful partnership building when they remain adaptable to the needs of varying community contexts and actively provide resources for staff.



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