Community Youth Mapping (CYM)

Our goal at the Center is to improve people’s lives in measurable ways while ensuring an inclusive change process that responds to the priorities of its community members.  Youth are the majority in our city, and the investments they make in themselves and their community are critical to Newark’s ability to thrive.

Community Youth Mapping (CYM) is mobilizes youth as catalysts and contributors to positive community change. In teams of 5, supervised by young adults of college age, youth canvass their neighborhoods and interview other youth to identify resources and opportunities that exist in their community. They plot conditions and land uses on city lot and blocks in order to inform government and nonprofit community development activities, and also cultivate skills of observation, narration, and interviewing in order to layer qualitative data and subjective analysis over the hard data plotted on their maps.

Background

CYM was originally established in Newark by Deputy Mayor for Neighborhood Engagement, Margarita Muñiz, in 2009.  The Center assumed leadership and coordination of CYM in 2011 and delivered the program in partnership with the Newark Youth One-Stop Career Center and the Youth Education and Employment Success (YE2S) Center.

 

Summer 2011

Over the course of eight weeks during the summer of 2011, 30 Newark youths, ages 14-17, were divided into teams and supervised by five college-aged students. The summer started with a week of training and an overview of the neighborhood development efforts that CYM would inform. Youth mappers were introduced to the concept of community assets and asset mapping with structured guidance on what to look for when canvassing the targeted areas. The curriculum was specifically designed for teens and conducted in a facilitated workshop format. The teams visited each of the city’s wards and collected concrete, lot-level data on the needs and assets they identified in each neighborhood.  The information they collected on 10,700 lots was compiled, analyzed, and shared with City officials and community partners who used the to inform the development and implementation of:

  1. the City ofNewark’s Master Plan and
  2. the Strong Healthy Communities Initiative.

CYM includes youth in essential community development now, while also building their interest and capacity to be our future civic leaders. In 2011, we found that through their participation in CYM, youth mappers gained a better understanding of neighborhood challenges and productive ways to address them. They were further able to develop skills in critical thinking, internet-based research, data analysis, and presentation. All participants completed an exit survey in which the results indicate:

  • 64% of the participants increased their interest in the well-being of their neighborhood;
  • 86% of the participants improved their communication skills;
  • 90% have increased their knowledge of healthy food access.

Summer 2012

This summer we completed our second annual community youth mapping project where we we able to:

  • Offer 30 Newark youth summer employment
  • Conduct 500 youth-to-youth surveys
  • Map 5,000 lots
  • Take over 200 photos of abandoned properties
  • Create accurate geographic maps of properties
This year’s program had three main components:
  1. Leadership development: a specially designed curriculum to teach leadership and research skills
  2. Asset Mapping: identifying uses and conditions of neighborhood properties
  3. Youth-to-Youth Surveys: giving youth a voice in program and policy development in their City