RCA National 4-H Program on Social Progress

The following story is from the National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility on the National 4-H History website at


In July, 1936, while most of the country was still wrestling with the Great Depression, the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work, in partnership with the Extension System, announced a new awards program quite different from any that had preceded it. Called the National Program on Social Progress, the new program was sponsored by the Radio Corporation of America, through its services, RCA Victor and the National Broadcasting Company (NBC).

Inspired by 4-H, the President of RCA, Mr. David Sarnoff, worked personally with 4-H to create the program to energize rural communities and simply help young boys and girls feel better about themselves and their future. It was a broad program encouraging community parties and cultural events where youth could expand their horizons, conservation activities, discussions and debates, volunteer programs and personal growth opportunities.


The awards structure for the program was generous, including both individual and club awards along with county, state, sectional and national recognition. The top 4-H boy and girl in the United States were awarded $500 scholarships at National 4-H Congress, plus a trip to New York City (each with chaperon) to personally meet with Mr. Sarnoff and tour RCA and NBC facilities. Both an appreciation for music and the hands-on use of radio broadcasting were integral parts of the program.

The National 4-H Program on Social Progress was of great assistance in many rural communities which were experiencing low morale due to the Great Depression, and also was a highly visible program for 4-H. David Sarnoff served as a member of the board for the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work for a number of years


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