Step 4: Maintaining, Sustaining, and Evaluating Mapping Efforts
“Throughout the resource mapping process, you’re going to hit small bumps, big bumps, and occasionally see a few mountains. Stay flexible. Adjust to changes. Embrace new opportunities.” —Mapping facilitator
The final step in the community resource mapping process—maintaining, sustaining, and evaluating your mapping efforts—allows you to step back and take a critical look at the process, the achievement toward your goals, and the impact of your efforts to date. Each step in this process leads to the sustainability of your efforts. While this step in the process is presented last, decisions are made in each step that determine the maintenance and sustainability of your work. Measuring success in meeting your goals is a constant throughout the mapping process.
Your task force may find its original vision evolving or expanding due to unanticipated changes in legislation, policy, practice, and/or funding. Change your vision statement, goals, or action plan as necessary to include new perspectives. In addition, reorganize your membership if necessary. For instance, you may need to add stakeholders or reassign responsibilities based on redirected efforts and emerging talents. Mid-course corrections are fine as they are a sign of progress. Revisiting and revising the action plan as needed can prevent costly missteps down the road.
Evaluation must be an ongoing process that facilitates change as needed. Formative evaluation is one method of focusing on the process and judging the worth of the action plan as it is happening. By continually measuring progress against goals, the group can gauge whether the resource mapping effort is accomplishing what was intended. This method allows the group to take advantage of new opportunities and resources that may come up while mapping your resources. Moreover, it will enable organizations to maintain the flexibility needed to handle unexpected changes.
Formative evaluation allows the group to keep all stakeholders and partners up-to-date on their progress, results, and challenges. Using periodic progress reports, the group can make informed decisions on the future direction of their effort.
Sustaining your efforts is critical. Community resource mapping is not an easy process nor is it ever really finished. However, if done thoughtfully, community resource mapping can lead to long-term systems change. Therefore, your task force needs to demonstrate a long-term commitment to change and have a plan for “re-mapping” to meet new or changing goals. Regular communication allows momentum to be maintained and efforts sustained.
Intermediaries play a key role in the community by brokering relationships and aligning resources. These neutral organizations can help sustain community resource mapping efforts by overseeing the implementation of mapping activities and the action plan. Key to this sustainability is the task of coordinating various community resources without creating turf battles. This task requires intermediaries to moderate conversations among stakeholders in order to discover issues of common concern and identify the opportunities and mechanisms for aligning and coordinating resources (Miller, 2001; Mooney & Crane, 2002).
Role Intermediaries Play in the Mapping Process
During this final step and throughout the mapping process, continue to demonstrate the importance of looking beyond the usual resources to meet your intended vision and goals. Look for nontraditional means of funding and support to find new resources, combine current resources in creative ways, or use current resources in a way that best matches the organization’s goals.
Table of Contents
3: Taking Action
4: Maintaining, Sustaining, and Evaluating Mapping Efforts
Citation: Crane, K., & Mooney,
M. (2005). Essential tools: Community resource mapping. Minneapolis,
MN: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration, National
Center on Secondary Education and Transition.
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