Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Use Maps for Understanding and Serving Areas of Need

For over 20 years I've focused on how community leaders and networks can use maps to build a better understanding of all places within a geographic region like Chicago where poverty and other indicators show a need for long-term systems of youth and family support.  I still don't see enough examples of this happening.

Below is a graphic showing a map found on the Homicide Watch Chicago web site. Every red icon points to a life lost in Chicago.

You can zoom in on this map to focus on specific parts of the city. The inset at the top right shows Chicago's West side. I could have looked even closer, at a smaller area, like the Austin neighborhood.

The homicide map shows that the West and South parts of Chicago have the highest frequency of homicides.

If you look at other maps, such as the one at the left, you can see that these areas also have the highest concentrations of poverty and racial minorities.  Visit the Urban.org web site and you can find a collection of data maps that you can use to visualize where people need extra help.

Another resource is the collection of data maps available at the Chicago Health Atlas web site.  With either of these resources and many others that I point to on this data maps page, leadership groups in different areas can build a visual and spatial understanding of what sections of Chicago need extra help.

However, there's another level of data that needs to be used if the goal is to help kids grow up safely and without detours into gangs, crime, juvenile justice or icons on these homicide maps.


I included this map on the featured image. It also shows Chicago's West side. However, it includes information showing the number of high poverty kids, age 6-17, living in each community area. The  yellow box shows this data for 2011 and the blue shows the updated data as of 2018. 

You can see this map, along with other Chicago community areas, in a PDF available here, and here.

If you zoom into my map you can see some green stars. These are locations of known non-school tutor and/or mentor programs that the Tutor/Mentor Connection identified via its on-going surveys, which were first launched in 1994.  The map image used was from a Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, created between 2004 and 2009.  Due to lack of funding this  has not been updated since 2013, so a different map, and list of Chicago tutor and mentor programs can be found at this link.

The goal of this, and other articles that I've been writing for 20 plus years is to motivate teams of people in different areas to use these maps, and other information in the Tutor/Mentor web library,  as part of an on-going planning process intended to fill every high poverty area with needed youth and family support programs.

View this concept map here
If you browse through past articles on this blog you'll find each of the graphics shown in the concept map and you'll find a link to an entire collection of similar maps.  You'll also find many articles that include GIS maps like the ones I show in this article.


At the heart of all this information is my list of Chicago non-school tutor and/or mentoring programs, sorted by sections of the city. In this page on the Program Locator, you can also see an effort to sort by age group served, and type of program. 

This information is absolutely needed if any on-going marketing and leadership is going to fill high poverty neighborhoods with a full range of birth to work programs. Instead of starting new programs all the time, I've tried to identify and give support to every existing program, helping each constantly move toward being great. At the same time, I've tried to show where there are voids, in age group served and/or type of program, so that planners could use this data in their own on-going efforts.

If you've read this far, there are two takeaways.

1) you can use these ideas in any city, or any neighborhood and you can dig through past articles to understand what I've been trying to do, then duplicate what you think will work for you. Since I've not been able to update the Program Locator, and other people are also building lists of youth serving organizations, I created this concept map to point to many places you can use to search for program information.

2) you can offer time, talent and dollars and/or partnership, to help me update and upgrade the Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, making it work for Chicago and making it freely available to leaders in other cities.

You can also go to this page and make a small, or large, contribution to help me keep these resources on line until I find some people who will respond to suggestion number 2.

I urge you to connect and share your mapping and planning ideas with me on Twitter @tutormentorteam or on LinkedIn or Facebook.



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