Illuminating the Invisible: Mapping Austin’s Adolescent Health System Using Value Network Analysis

I’m delighted to announce that Nonprofit Quarterly has published an article on the work done last year with the Austin Healthy Adolescent Initiative. “Illuminating the Invisible: Mapping Austin’s Adolescent Health System Using Value Network Analysis” provides a case study of how we used a specific technique to paint a holistic picture of how the system works from service provider and youth perspectives.

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the article:

In Austin, Texas, a diverse group of people—service providers, funders, and policy makers—came together to improve adolescent health. They ran into a critical issue: the adolescent health system was so complex, multifaceted, and dynamic that it resisted traditional analytical approaches. This article explains how the group used a powerful technique called network analysis to help them assess the system, generate new insights, and mobilize energy for change.

Mapping Austin’s Adolescent Health System Using Value Network Analysis

The Context: Adolescent Health in Austin

Austin, Texas is a vibrant city—the hub for artistic and musical expression in the state and the live-music capital of the world. It is also a city with challenges. Between 2006 and 2010, an estimated 21 percent of youth in Travis County were living in poverty.

Motivated by the desire to make significant improvements in the lives of Travis County youth, the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department (HHSD) formed the Austin Healthy Adolescent (AHA) Initiative in 2009. The hope was that the AHA Initiative would make positive change in the health of adolescents.

Led by Austin HHSD staffer Nikki Treviño and facilitated by Omega Point International consultant Stephanie Nestlerode, the multi-stakeholder AHA Initiative leadership group created their vision early in their process. They seek a world in which adolescents are active decision makers and fully engage in improving their own health and the health of their communities. By casting adolescents as active decision makers, the leadership group set the tone for their work. It would no longer be service providers and policy experts making decisions for youth; instead, youth would be deeply involved every step of the way.

For more, read “AHA Value Network Mapping Article in Nonprofit Quarterly.”

2 Responses to Illuminating the Invisible: Mapping Austin’s Adolescent Health System Using Value Network Analysis

  1. Edward Dolan July 9, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    Congratulations, Maya! You did some very good work there, and it is great to see some national recognition for the careful Value Network Analysis you were able to do with a somewhat fluid and diverse group.

  2. Maya Townsend July 16, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    Thanks, Ed! The best part of the experience was seeing how a group of fairly jaded, uninterested teenagers came together by creating a map of their experience. They got excited and, by the end of the session, were speaking coherently and authoritatively about how the adolescent health system does and does not work for them. It was truly exciting work.

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