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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Ildefonso, Ph.D.

Interactive Asset Mapping : A New Standard for Education Equity

A coalition of Bronx school administrators, education advocates and school service providers  recently came to us with an all-too-common problem in the education sector. 

Bronx School District 9 Logo - Asset Mapping

Nearly all of their district’s students are economically disadvantaged and in need of comprehensive school services; yet, there are large disparities in services between the district’s 48 schools. In a complex and constantly evolving services landscape, these disparities are extremely hard to pinpoint, and meeting needs where they are is even harder. 

One of the coalition’s leaders, Terrence Winston, reached out to us for support. As the Director of The Coalition for Community School Excellence, Winston knows firsthand the incredible impact that schools can have on students and families when they provide comprehensive integrated student support services outside of the classroom, such as health services, classes for adults, after school programming, and food distribution.

He invited us to lead an “asset mapping” project with the group to visualize service disparities and provide the district with the data needed to make informed decisions about how to equalize resources.

Asset mapping is a process whereby a community's assets are specifically identified, described, and sometimes visualized geographically on a map. Too often, these maps are static, hard to maintain, and do not allow for complex analysis. We had something else in mind.

Our solution : an interactive intelligence hub

We set out to create a comprehensive map-based dashboard (optimized for desktop usage) with the following key capabilities:

  • Service Visualization: a detailed display of each school’s support services.

  • School and Community Profiles: data on student demographics, student performance, community-level demographics, and crime statistics

  • Geographical Filters: the ability to filter on neighborhood or legislative district across all maps, including Senate District, Assembly District and Council District

  • Custom Data Selectors: the ability to filter on key school-based variables across all maps

  • Equity Indicators: a way to easily see disparities in resource distribution, identifying schools in urgent need and those with potential to share resources

  • Community School and Grant Eligibility Insights: data on community school statuses, grant eligibility, and other funding-related information

  • Parental Engagement Features: easy-to-use features for parents to understand and access the services available at their children’s schools

District 9 in the Bronx - Asset Mapping by North Arrow
Mapping all the services offered by the district schools

A quick turnaround and minimum involvement from the district

We developed the dashboard in less than a month, with just one brainstorming session and one feedback session. The school district provided detailed data on services at each school, such as on-site health services, food pantries, clothing distributions, adult classes, and after-school programs. We supplemented this with extensive research to integrate additional school-based, student-based, and community-based data, creating a holistic intelligence hub for decision-making.

The final dashboard included 26 map layers with over 50 different data variables, allowing users to run queries and explore outputs across all maps. For instance, users can search for schools with high percentages of students in temporary housing, limited on-site health services, and no after-school programs, then view the maps to identify other areas where these high-need students are in need of additional resources.

A key feature of the dashboard is its ability to download data outputs as spreadsheets, enabling further analysis and reporting. Additionally, the tool includes a map of legislative districts, allowing users to search for schools within specific Senate, Congress, Assembly, or Council districts for targeted advocacy.

Bronx District 9 : Asset Mapping Dashboard - Legislative Boundaries
Legislative Boundaries

Rave Reviews and A New Standard for Asset Mapping

The response to the D9 Asset Mapping Dashboard has been overwhelmingly positive. Terrence Winston shared the following feedback with us:

North Arrow exceeded all expectations as a service provider and collaborator. They took great care to ask precise questions in order to meet our needs; offering insights throughout the process while managing to accommodate a tight turnaround time. The aspects our team most appreciated about North Arrow were their imagination, flexibility and capacity to expand on our original idea and make it into something awe inspiring with great utility and user friendliness. I would highly recommend their services to anyone serious about making this kind of investment.

At North Arrow, we are honored to have contributed to this significant advancement in educational resource allocation and look forward to continuing to support transformative projects that make a real impact.

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