Sunday, September 18, 2016

Building Youth Support System - Role of Libraries, Hospitals

If you browse articles posted on this blog since 2008, and on the Tutor/Mentor Institute blog since 2005,  you'll see maps used to show areas of Chicago and other cities where youth and families need a wide range of extra support to help young people move through school and into adult lives free of poverty.

In many of these articles I focus on the proactive role that business, philanthropy, hospitals and other anchor organizations can take. In this article I'm going to illustrate this strategy, focusing on libraries and hospitals.

I'm using the New York City Public Library system as my example.

The map at the right shows locations of New York City Public Libraries. Click here to visit the site and zoom in on the map.  As with most cities, libraries are spread throughout the city.

This summer I connected with a New York City organization called IntegrateNYC4me, which engages young people in communication information about school segregation in New York City Public Schools. Here's the Research Page of their web site.  Below is a copy of their map, showing segregated schools in NYC.



I zoomed in on both maps, focusing on an area where there are a large number of segregated schools. Below are two maps showing the area between 125th St and 175th Street.  The map on the left s hows libraries in the area and the map on the right shows highly segregated public schools in the same area.


Students at each school in this map area could be building map views like this. They could do neighborhood research to learn about non school tutor/mentor programs located within a 1 mile (or half mile) radius of each library, then adding that information to the map, as I do with the Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator Interactive map.  Such maps could also show other assets in the area, such as businesses, banks, faith groups, hospitals, colleges, etc., as well as political leaders who represent the area. This Asset Map section of the Program Locator enables users to build map views showing indicators of need, locations of existing tutor/mentor programs, and assets within the same map-area. (note - the Program Locator has not been funded since 2010, thus serves as a model for this example).


Each library could be partnering with youth groups, and volunteers from area businesses and/or colleges, to create maps and share this information, and to host meetings, to discuss the availability of non-school learning supports, or other resources, that would help kids in neighboring schools have better learning opportunities.   Such meetings can focus on information in the library, that shows the impact of poverty and segregation on the neighborhood and the wider NYC region, as well as information in web libraries like the one created by the T/MC since the early 1990s.  


ICONS placed on the library map and on the schools map could show which libraries have such a program in place. I put circles on the map above, to illustrate this.

Over a two to three period each library should have a program in place to fill the library neighborhood with rich learning resources. Foundations and government offices should have maps on their own web sites, showing where they are funding and supporting such efforts!  Maps in local media should be showing the growth of these efforts in high poverty areas, just as frequently as they show maps with the number of homicides in a city.

Students working with this project could also learn to do evaluation and recognition mapping.  The map at the right shows people who attended a Tutor/Mentor Conference in Chicago, with different icons showing the affiliation of the participant. The goal is that such events bring all of the stake-holders from the map area into on-going efforts that lead to more and better youth serving organizations in the area around every public library that operates in a poverty areas, or one with highly segregated and poorly resourced schools.

Putting participation information on the map is one task. Creating blog articles, media stories, podcasts and videos to give positive recognition to those who are involved in this effort is a second set of necessary actions.

Students, at the high school or college level, even Jr. High School level, could even be writing up process and "how we did it" reports, as part of on-going learning, and could be sharing strategies from one library-neighborhood with others, in NYC and in other cities, via cMOOCs organized around the Connected Learning (#clmooc) format. 

Here are a few more maps that illustrate this thinking: First is a map showing Brooklyn, NY public libraries and segregated schools. The map of all Brooklyn, NYC libraries can be found here.
This map shows locations of Chicago Public Libraries, with insets showing libraries on the South Side of Chicago.   The same process I describe for NYC could be taking place in Chicago and every other city with areas of highly concentrated, segregated poverty.  

The map below shows the location of Sinai Hospital, on Chicago's West side, within the 9th Illinois State Representative District. It's from a series of stories written in 2009 to show the role this hospital, or others in the map-area, could take to help mentor-rich programs grow in the areas surrounding it.


Another article showing Sinai Hospital, and a strategy that can fill the surrounding neighborhood with mentor-rich programs, can be found here.  An article showing how youth could use maps in stories following media coverage of violence in a neighborhood, can be found here.


Anyone can duplicate the stories I write. Most can do it better! Do it!


Teams of youth and volunteers, working with modern GIS technologies, can create similar map collections, showing indicators of need for extra help, and showing organizations already operating in the map-area, offering various forms of  help, and showing assets who could be providing more consistent help, since they also are part of the map-area.  This presentation shows how to use platforms like the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, to create  your own map stories.

Maps created by the Tutor/Mentor Connection from 1994-2011, do not focus on libraries, police stations, fire stations or other anchor organizations, but these are all institutions spread throughout a city, which could be leading community mapping and mobilization efforts intending to make their district the safest and best place to live, work and raise families.

If you'd like to explore these ideas further, let's connect. If you're already doing this, share your blog or web site address in the comment section below or on Twitter or Facebook.

If you'd like to sponsor the Program Locator and help the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC rebuild it's mapping capacity, visit this page.

March 2017 update - this web site includes maps showing segregated schools in NYC

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