Loraine Park, Carolyn Verheyen, and Eric Wat on Tips on Asset Mapping

We are a collaborative team from three research and planning firms: Loraine Park (Harder+Company Community Research), Carolyn Verheyen (MIG), and Eric Wat (SSG). As part of a larger community needs assessment, we recently conducted asset mapping in multiple communities.

Our aim was to use that process to engage residents and parents in conversations about the resources, social supports, and strengths in their community. We were interested not only in what resources exist in the community, but also how well they are utilized. Below are some tips and lessons we learned through this experience.

Hot Tip: Extensive outreach is important to ensure that a diverse cross-section of residents participate in asset mapping activities. Use multiple resources to connect to your target audience. Our target audience included parents with young children and service providers within the identified communities. We used varied outreach methods including: distributing flyers at community locations where families with young children gather and inviting potential participants via e-mail and telephone. We also used community partners such as local non-profit organizations and outreach workers to assist with these efforts. Be prepared to address the needs of participants, including transportation, translation, childcare, etc.

Hot Tip: Printed copies of maps used during the asset mapping exercise should be large, in full color and should have some information to help people orient themselves. The maps we printed were approximately 3’x4’ and included major streets, highways, rivers, and some landmarks, such as parks, hospitals, and schools.

Rad Resource: We used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to create base maps then used Illustrator to add other features such as icons and legends and to make the maps user-friendly and graphically pleasing.

Hot Tip: During the asset mapping session, we broke into small groups of 8 to 10 people. Each group included a facilitator to guide the discussion and a note taker to record key comments and observations. Sometimes community members were recruited as facilitators. All facilitators and note takers received training in advance of the asset mapping session. In addition to placing stickers to identify community resources, participants were encouraged to write on the maps and talk about the resource they identified.

Hot Tip: We created stickers with icons for each of the questions we asked. For example, when we asked participants to identify where they access health care, they were given stickers with this icon.

Hot Tip: When conducting the asset mapping exercise, it is helpful to start with an easier question so people can orient themselves to the map. For example, we began by asking participants to identify where they live and work, again using pictorial stickers to represent home and work.

Resource: For more information about asset mapping, please see our AEA presentation materials on the Harder+ Company website here or in the AEA eLibrary here.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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