New City Youth Map Debuts

New Haven parents looking to keep their kids busy can now send them to the computer — not to play video games, but to find the nearest after-school art program, summer adventure camp, or college prep workshop.

They’ll find that information at the city’s new online interactive database of youth services, the New Haven Youth Map.

City officials announced the launch of the new map Wednesday afternoon at a City Hall press conference, which didn’t include any young people.

Yale Alder Sarah Eidelson (pictured), chair of the Board of Alders Youth Committee, said the new map is the culmination of two years of collaboration between her board, the Board of Ed, the city Youth Services Department, and the United Way.

Using a digital projector, the United Way’s Laoise King demonstrated how the map works. She called up and demonstrated how users can browse youth programs by target age group, program type, or zip code, then by program groups (from “Academic Enrichment” to “Youth Organizing,” for instance) and finally by program name.

Users can also search by keyword, location, nearby bus stops, cost per week, and dates.

Or they can simply click on a map and see all the city’s youth offerings, marked by virtual red push-pins.

All listed programs link to detailed “profile” pages about the organizations offering them. The site is only as useful as the information on it, King noted. Organizations have been encouraged to upload current information and even photos to the site.

“We’re really excited,” said Stephanie Barnes of the Boys and Girls Club. “We often hear there’s nothing to do for youth in New Haven. I have to disagree.” Hopefully, the map will prove it, and help people find all the activities ongoing in the city, she said.

Jason Bartlett, the city’s head of youth services, said the map will allow the city to gather useful data. It will “allow us to see where we should put resources and what’s missing.”

West River Alder Tyisha Walker and schools Superintendent Garth Harries (pictured) also hailed the new site.

The site currently has information from 125 youth services providers, many of which offer multiple programs. It’s not only not-for-profits, King said. City, parks department, Board of Ed, and library programs are all listed.

King said the map organizers have done a lot of outreach to make sure organizations keep info on the site up to date. “There is a little bit of fatigue about filling out these forms.” But the city will be reminding organizations regularly. King said the city may make website updates a requirement for grant funding.

The city has created youth maps before. An online tool was unveiled in 2009, but failed to catch on. King said that online map was “old-fashioned” and not user-friendly. The new one is intuitive and modern, she said.

The site is made with nFocus software, which made a similar site in Boston.

Bookmarks with the map’s URL will be given out to all school kids next week, King said. Bus ads and street banners will follow, if the budget allows. Organizers said they don’t have plans for any online ads.

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posted by: robn on April 24, 2014  8:40am

“Revised” not “new”. I remember the old map and don’t perceive much of a difference. It will be interesting if kids feel differently.

posted by: K Harrison on April 24, 2014  10:08am

@robn Yeah, I remember the old one too (at least I’m pretty sure what I looked at must have been the old version). I mean, I remember thinking it was a cool idea, but this one is a lot better in that I actually want to click on it!

The web has gotten better since the last one got made (which must have been what, at least 5+ years ago?). Not to mention the database behind it, which I would assume has been improved by a push for more info from service providers, though I can’t speak to that really.

But yeah, definitely these kinds of resources need to be used by kids families and providers to actually function, so hopefully getting the word out will be successful.

posted by: beaverhillsnewhaven on April 24, 2014  10:21am

Great tool for parents - especially the bus route feature. Bravo to the Board and City and everyone who worked on it. Now it just needs to stay updated.

posted by: K Harrison on April 24, 2014  12:48pm

Also, online ads would be a good idea. Facebook ads are so, so cheap compared to banners and bus ads. And the target audience uses Facebook a lot.