Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Disaster relief. Floods. Kids.

Recovery efforts are now taking place in Texas, Louisiana and other places in the world where floods have caused recent human tragedy.
At the same time, school is starting in Chicago and other places, including in flooded areas, and kids living in high poverty areas are facing an on-going human tragedy of too little support from home, community and school.

There are some common challenges in both areas.

see this map
I launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in 1993 in an effort to build a master data-base of non-school tutor and/or mentor programs operating in the Chicago region, in an effort to provide information that leaders in business, politics, education, philanthropy, etc. could use to determine if there were enough programs serving different age groups in all of the city's high poverty neighborhoods.  My goal was that the maps and database I was hosting would be used to support on-going public education and marketing plans intended to draw ideas and resources to programs, while helping programs network and learn from each other.

The goal was to have great programs in every neighborhood, not a few great programs in only a few places.

 You can find my list of programs and most updated map here.

In the years since it has served as a resource for parents, social workers, librarians, etc. to help parents find services for their kids.  Just last week I received a message saying,
"Looking for Mentoring programs for young girls and boys  
from the age of 7-16 years of age in the Near North Area."

Over the past 23 year's I've responded to these requests by pointing people to the directory and list of programs, so they could shop and choose from what was available. I've often had to say "none there", which means you and your community need to start programs if your kids are to be served. I've offered the information on my web sites as a resource for such efforts.

I've never had much help doing this, and even less since 2011, however, the need still exists.  Thus, I seek volunteers and partners who will help me keep the information up-to-date and help build awareness so more people use the resource. View this presentation then read more below.

Without a map showing where help is needed and what organizations are providing services, with layers showing age group served and type of programs offered, it's impossible to know if a city has enough needed services in all the places where they are needed.

I seek people who will:

a) adopt a section of the city and review youth program web sites; make sure they are working; tell me of broken links, or new programs that I need to add. Get to know what these programs do, and how they differ from each other. Share news about these programs via social media, blogs, church bulletins, company newsletters, etc.

b) dig deeper into the theory of change and design of programs. Look at similar programs throughout the country/world and build a list of "what looks best" type programs that others can learn from.  Update this regularly.  Build an understanding of what type of program design is best for the needs of different age groups and client groups.

c) help me update my own technology and communications capacity. Look for ways to share ownership and carry this into the future.  This is all part of a four-part strategy described in this article.

Now, how does this relate to disaster relief?

https://weather.com map
Without maps showing the areas flooded by the recent Hurricane,with overlays showing service providers needed at different stages of recovery, high profile areas like Houston will draw most of the recovery resources while lesser visibility areas will receive too little.  Even within Houston it's likely that more affluent neighborhoods will attract greater support than the high poverty areas.

For instance, https://weather.com and  this ESRI site provides numerous maps showing flood areas.  The maps are professionally done and provide great information about where the damage was greatest.  However, they don't include overlays of recovery support organizations who need volunteer and donor help to do their work.

Here's a site that is showing resources people are looking for, with a map showing shelters.  SketchCity, a tech group in Texas, has been creating some information-based maps, like the one showing shelters.

This is all useful, but is it enough?

What help do kids in poverty need? What help do disaster recovery areas need?  I've been using cMaps to create a visual blueprint that shows different supports kids need as they move through school and into jobs and careers.


These supports are needed in every high poverty neighborhood for many years. Thus far, I know of no one collecting and mapping such information, like I describe in the presentation shown above, to show availability,  and provide support, for all of these needed services.

Here's a HBR article talking about the impact of Harvey on poor people and advocating for prevention efforts, before the disaster occurs. Here's another from the Washington Post. Many issues mentioned in these articles represent nodes on a concept map like mine.

Concept maps and other visual tools could be used to show the various short and long-term disaster recovery support needed, not just in Houston, but throughout the world.

Visualizations like mine might already be available some place within the US and worldwide disaster-relief ecosystem.  If they are I don't see people on social media pointing to these and calling on volunteers and donors to use them to guide their efforts.

I don't know. Maybe readers who do know will share links.

What I do know is that many volunteers, donors and leaders are needed to collect, organize and maintain such information, and keep it updated for many years.  And many more are needed to build the daily and on-going marketing and communications needed to draw volunteers and donors to the information, and then to all of the areas where kids, or disaster victims, need help, now, and will need help many years more into the future.

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