AED Center for Youth Development and Policy Research is a national capacity building intermediary. The mission of the Center is to create and strengthen the infrastructures that support the positive development of all youth.
AED’s goal is to engage at-risk youth in positive and productive activities and help them to form connections within their backyards. One of AED’s activities includes a project called Youth Mapping, which provides youths with the opportunity to conduct a survey and map the resources offered by their own neighborhoods. Through this project, at-risk youth not only gain confidence and responsibility but also a deeper sense of pride and belonging to their community. Furthermore, they emerge as resource experts in their home and at school.
Since 1991, Youth Mapping has been completed in over 35 cities across the nation. The project uses simple technology to provide an accurate database of these existing resources for youth, children, and families. Up-to-date information on such resources as housing assistance, health and counseling services, educational programs, recreation centers, music and art programs, and even employment opportunities are compiled, evaluated and plotted using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in order to create up-to-date, comprehensive maps of community resources. The maps also indicate resource gaps, areas where specific services and opportunities need to be added.
Branding the Youth Mapping materials will reinvigorate the program and make it more appealing both to youth mappers and to the members of the community who are taking part in the surveys. The end result is a greater awareness of the project and more interest in the data that is collected. This initiative will ultimately address the needs of youth and their families, by directly empowering them with the tools to take the helm and improve their communities.