Thursday, January 26, 2023

Changing Demographics for Chicago Children - Update from 2007

I've been using maps since 1993 to focus attention on areas of high poverty in Chicago where kids and families need extra help.  At the left is a photo of me with a Chicago Tribune article on the screen behind me. The headline was "City kids at risk" and the sub head told of 240,000 kids living in poverty.

I've pointed to this and similar maps often in an effort to motivate leaders to develop long-term strategies that build and sustain mentor-rich non-school youth programs in all of these areas, instead of having a few great programs in a few areas.  

Below is an article I wrote in January 2007 

----- start 2007 article ---

During a Public Policy Forum hosted in Chicago on 1/24/07, maps were used to show the changing population trends and their implications for future services. The research was created by the Chapin Hall Center for Children.

The T/MC has used maps for many years to show poverty demographics and locations of poorly performing schools as an indicator of need for tutor/mentor programs. The T/MC Program Locator includes a Map Gallery, and a searchable database that visitors can use to shop for programs in different parts of the Chicago region.

However, we've also built a GIS links library, with links to different organizations in the Chicago region and nationally who are using maps to create a better understanding of poverty as the root cause of many other social issues.

During the meeting today I invited the 300-plus participants to use the GIS links on our web site as a resource in their own planning and networking. In addition, I invited them to add additional links, showing other sites that use maps to provide a spatial understanding of important social issues.

I also invited people to provide information about forums where people are using maps to share information, network and collaborate, so that all children in the Chicago region have equal opportunities for an education and a life out of poverty.

Finally, if you know of people who blog the issues that were discussed in today's forum, add your link to the T/MC links library or introduce this resource in the comments section below.

If we build a network of Chicago area and national organizations using maps to make better decisions, then the next step is to create blog-exchanges at strategic times throughout the year, so we can draw a growing number of people together to look at this information, reflect on it, and use it to do more to help kids living in poverty neighborhoods.

 ---- end 2007 article ----

If you spend some time viewing articles posted since 2007 I've often invited leaders to adopt the strategies I've been sharing.

It has not happened.

For a variety of reasons but most likely, too few have ever spent time looking at what I've written, and the ideas have always been too far from common practice for people to understand and adopt them.

Many things have changed since 2007, but two stand out.

First, the number of kids living in poverty has declined.  This article points to research by UIC and the MacArthur Foundation showing demographic shifts since 2000.  The biggest decline is among Black Chicagoans. The UIC report shows that this group declined from 1,063,737 in 2000 to 787,661 in 2020.  At the same time Latino population grew from 753,644 in 2000 to 819,518 2020. 

According to the UIC report (page 40) 28.2 percent of the Black population is in poverty. 18% of the Latino population is in poverty.

That means around 222,000 Black Chicagoans live in poverty in 2020 and 147,500 Latino families live in poverty.  That's about 370,000 people. 

Another report from Self Inc., a financial technology company, says that "20.6% of Chicago minorities live in poverty".  This report says that there are 126,988 children below the poverty level in Chicago.

That's a big change since 1994, but still a huge number.

Second, media stories about crime and violence remind us that poverty continues to have a negative impact on many children and families living in high poverty areas.

I included this Chicago SunTimes story in an article I posted in November 2020. 

It's one of dozens of similar articles I've posted in this section since 2007.  

So, there are still a lot of kids who need help in Chicago. That's true for other big cities, too. 

Yesterday I was contacted by a PhD student from Germany, who had visited my MappingforJustice blog and wanted me to fill out a survey about my uses of technology for civic benefit.  Last year I wrote about an on-going conversation I was having with Aliyu B. Solomon, from Nigeria. 

I wish people in Chicago had been showing similar interest over the past 28 years. Actually, a researcher from the University of Chicago did do a brief case study of the Tutor/Mentor Connection in the late 1990s. You can read it here

In this report one observation said "T/MC may be particularly difficult to understand because it does not easily fit within known categories of organizations"

That remains true in 2023.  

In the 2007 article I pointed to the library of GIS resources that I had been building.  I've added to that often since then.  I also created this concept map, to help people find data resources they could use in creating stories similar in purpose to those on this blog.

I still don't find many using maps the way I have been so I've also not been able to gather people at strategic times a year to talk about what they are doing. Maybe someone in the future will do that.

The future.

Along the left side of this blog are tags that enable you to narrow your search for articles to read.  I encourage you to open About T/MI, History, and A NEW T/MC to expand your understanding of what I've been trying to do and to learn ways you might build your own version focused on your city, and/or step forward and help rebuild the T/MC to focus on Chicago in future years.

Thanks for reading this. Please share it. 

I'm on various social media platforms. I hope you'll connect with me.  Find links on this page

Furthermore, I invite you to help Fund T/MI in 2023 to help me continue to share ideas and host the ideas and library.

Visit this page and use PayPal to send a contribution. 

Go forth and do good!

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