Friday, March 22, 2024

Using maps to draw attention and resources to high poverty areas

This week I watched two panel discussions hosted by Friends of the Children - Chicago.  One is shown below. You can find the second at this link.


Friends of the Children has a long-term model of supporting kids from first grade through high school.  In these videos the speakers make a case for why volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs are needed in areas with many indicators of need, such as high poverty, violence, poorly performing schools, etc. 

I've used graphics like the one below to emphasize the need for long-term programs in high poverty areas of Chicago, so I'd like to see more programs who build such support for kids into their core strategies.  

What I did not see in the videos was anyone holding up a map of Chicago, saying "We need programs like this in every high poverty neighborhood, not just a few."

I've been using maps since 1994 to show where tutor/mentor programs are most needed, and where existing programs were already operating. I've also used them as part of a "Rest of the Story" public awareness strategy.  Below is an example.

This map-story was created in 1996 following a feature story in the Chicago SunTimes with a headline of "Slain children mourned: 'When will this end?"  My strategy was to leverage the public attention of the news report to show the areas where the shooting took place, and to show any tutor/mentor programs in the area (if there were any).  In creating these maps, we also showed "assets", businesses, faith groups, hospitals, universities, etc, who shared the area, and who should be strategic in helping tutor/mentor programs grow near where they do business.  

Unfortunately, we did not have the Internet available in the 1990s so few people actually saw these map stories.  I've been sharing them on this blog and the MappingforJustice blog since 2008. 

Over the past two weeks I've posted several articles showing some of my archives.  Now you can look at two more sections.

This folder includes more than 90 map stories created since the 1990s. 

This folder is even larger.  It contains more than 600 maps and images, mostly created since 2008, which I've used in blog articles, strategy presentations and newsletters.  

Not all of the images in this folder were created by myself, or the volunteers and paid part-time staff, who created maps for me.  Some are screenshots from other websites that we used in stories on one of our blogs.  Some are images of work done in 2008-10 to build the Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator Directory (which has been an archive since 2018). 

By sharing these archives I hope to serve as a resource for students and learners throughout the USA and the world, to demonstrate strategies for helping draw attention to places where the people and the planet need extra help, and extra, on-going, long-term, resources.

Between 2006 and 2015 interns from various universities in Chicago and South Korea spent time looking at articles on my blog and website, then created their own visualizations sharing what they were learning with people they know.  You can see their work on this page

My goal is to inspire a donor to make a major gift to a university that would fund a Tutor/Mentor Connection study program, where students do similar research and build a similar library of media stories and maps.

Imagine finding an archive like mine on a university website 10 to 15 years from now.

The graphic below visualizes my goal. Universities could be creating future social problem solving leaders who are constantly learning from each other and constantly feeding their own experiences into central depositories of wisdom.  

This blog article describes this as a "Tipping Point", because it not only grows a new cadre of leaders who use AI and other tools to aggregate information and draw from these libraries to support their own work, but also educates alumni who go into business and professions, rather than social service, to be proactive, on-going, and generous in supporting those who do go into social service work.

Since the 1990s, I've been building a library of information to support what people do to help kids in high poverty areas connect with adult tutors, mentors, learning opportunities and jobs.  The concept map below shows that library.

The challenge with such a growing amount of information is motivating people to spend time looking at it, and using it to support what they do to help themselves and their family, and to help others create a better future for all of us.

Thanks for reading. And thanks for sharing.

I'm on Twitter (X), Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and a few other platforms (see links here). I hope you'll connect with me.

If you'd like to help me pay the bills, please visit this page and make a contribution.  

I'm not a 501-c-3 nonprofit, so cannot offer you a tax deduction, but can promise to use your contribution to keep this library of ideas freely available to you and the world.

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