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National Center on Secondary Education and Transition

ESSENTIAL TOOLS —
Community Resource Mapping


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.

COMMUNITY RESOURCE MAPPING TOOL 9: Identifying Dissemination Infrastructure and Resources

Evaluating Progress

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.

Collecting and Analyzing Community Resources
  • Take a critical look at your work;
  • Keep the evaluation ongoing;
  • Use the evaluation to build capacity to self-assess;
  • Share the results with stakeholders (including funders);
  • Use your vision and goals to define needed resources;
  • Examine the process (e.g., how the group works together), the products, and the impact of your work (e.g., changes in outcomes, achievements);
  • Use a variety of evaluation strategies;
  • Collect baseline data for comparative purposes; and
  • Look at progress toward long-term goals and interim measures of success.


Maintaining Momentum

Throughout the community resource mapping process, the organization must continually nurture and expand partnerships. Consider your vision, goals, and outcomes of your community resource mapping and recruit new stakeholders who can help you achieve them. Diverse stakeholders can play a key role in helping the organization meet its goals and sustain its vision. This requires regular communication to maintain an awareness of stakeholders’ needs and expectations. When stakeholders are well-informed about an organization’s progress, they are better prepared to accept modifications to the original plan when something is not working.

Unexpected challenges are bound to emerge when tackling a large project that emphasizes fresh approaches and new methods. You need to be flexible enough to meet the challenges as they arise and modify plans accordingly with input from stakeholders.

  • After the initial mapping process was completed, a community in Texas realized that its vision needed to be broadened to include all youth ages 14-25. The task force took a mid-course correction step, revised its vision and goals, and went back into the community to do more extensive mapping of existing and new resources.
  • Anticipating funding problems that would potentially eliminate programs and services, a New York community used the mapping process to align and sustain the good things it was already doing.
  • In Florida, trained leaders from communities around the state were involved in the resource mapping process. This allowed several communities to retain momentum during the mapping process.


Sustaining the 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
  • Brokering and/or providing services to workplace partners, educational institutions, young people, and youth-serving systems;
  • Ensuring the quality and impact of local efforts; and
  • Promoting policies to sustain effective practices.

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.

Reflection Questions

  • How do you monitor progress and gauge results?
  • Have you widely shared the information gathered?
  • How do you promote the results of your efforts?
  • How do you continually improve your efforts?
  • How do you effectively apply the “lessons learned”?
  • Are you satisfied with your progress toward interim and long-term goals?
  • Are you building system-wide capacity to ensure long-term effect and sustainability?
  • Do you have the funds to sustain your efforts?
  • Are you building capacity within your organization/agency?
  • Have you considered alternative courses of action that may prove more promising?

Table of Contents

Setting the Stage
Federal Context for Aligning Resources
State-Level Context for Collaborating
Implications for Mapping Resources at the Community Level
How to Use This Issue of Essential Tools

Overview
What is Resource Mapping?
How Resource Mapping Can Help Transform Your Community
The Mapping Process

Step 1: Pre-Mapping
Establishing a Task Force to Guide the Process
Setting a Vision
Setting Goals
Communicating Continuously
Reflection Questions

Step 2: Mapping
Identifying Resources
Developing Mapping Tools and Strategies
Gathering Information
Determining the Meaning of the Information
Communicating and Using the Mapping Results
Reflection Questions

Step 3: Taking Action
Developing an Action Plan
Achieving Consensus
Implementing the Action Plan
Sharing the Action Plan
Reflection Questions

Step 4: Maintaining, Sustaining, and Evaluating Mapping Efforts
Evaluating Progress
Maintaining Momentum
Sustaining the Effort
Reflection Questions

Summary

References

Resources

Glossary



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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.

Permission is granted to duplicate this publication in its entirety or portions thereof. Upon request, this publication will be made available in alternative formats. For additional copies of this publication, or to request an alternate format, please contact: Institute on Community Integration Publications Office, 109 Pattee Hall, 150 Pillsbury Drive SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, (612) 624-4512, icipub@umn.edu.

This document was published by the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET). NCSET is supported through a cooperative agreement #H326J000005 with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the U.S. Department of Education Programs, and no official endorsement should be inferred. The University of Minnesota, the U.S. Department of Education, and the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition are equal opportunity employers and educators.