Putting youth on the map
The IssueA key step in fostering healthy families and communities is presenting accurate, compelling and actionable community-scale data about the condition of youth. California wants and needs for its youth to thrive — not merely to survive or face fewer problems. But how do we know whether our young people are doing well?
What Has ANR Done?To answer this question, the UC Davis Center for Regional Change and UC Cooperative Extension joined together to generate Putting Youth on the Map (PYOM), an interactive website that presents two georeferenced youth indices plus 46 additional data layers that offer over 17,000 potential data combinations. The Youth Well-being Index (YWI) provides a score ranging from zero to an optimal 100 percent for areas bound by California school districts. These scores are calculated based on measures of teenagers’ physical and emotional health, educational outcomes, social relationships and community contexts. The composite scores and associated data are shared through a series of color-coded maps. The Youth Vulnerability Index (YVI) identifies places where young people might be especially vulnerable to a lack of support for their well-being. This index provides a composite score based on the relative rates at which youth in each California census tract experience conditions associated with inadequate support: school drop-out/push-out, foster care referral, teen pregnancy, and very low household incomes. YVI scores and associated data are also illustrated through a series of color-coded maps. Over 130 youth, family or community development professionals participated in two introductory webinars. An introduction webinar is posted at PYOM under the tutorial tab.
Maps show where youth are thriving and where others need helpThe data on these interactive maps allow users to identify areas where youth are becoming vulnerable to making unhealthy transitions to adulthood at relatively high rates, identify areas with relatively strong composite pictures of adolescent well-being, and provide baseline data for tracking change in the conditions of youth.
Users of PYOM can gather information to support grant proposal development; inform public and private investment; facilitate cross sector collaboration; and inform youth organizing, youth service, public policy and community advocacy at local, regional and statewide scales.
In the first six weeks since the site's launch, more than 150 new users visited. Non-profit leaders used the site to access data for proposal writing, and youth advocates used the site as part of a leadership training for young people.
Pending additional funding, the project team intends to develop a capacity-building strategy to help potential users apply the maps and data to enhance their efforts with and on behalf of youth. PYOM has demonstrated the power of ANR's campus-county continuum to create innovative and practical research tools.
Supporting Unit:Center for Regional Change UC Cooperative Extension
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