The Multidimensional Aspects of Poverty (MAP) Research Project kicked off in the United States last December. This international project implements a research model where people with a direct experience of poverty are recognized as experts along with academic researchers and practitioners to contribute to the global thinking on poverty. A lot has happened already during the first months of this project in New York City, Boston, Gallup, New Orleans, and Oakland, and there is more to come. Read more!
A lot of exciting things have happened with the Multidimensional Aspects of Poverty (MAP) Research Project, since the December 2016 Merging of Knowledge Training that launched the project in the United States. In January, the 10 person US Research Team was formed. This team of activists with an experience of poverty, academic researchers, and practitioners in areas of poverty eradication is in charge of designing and supporting local groups’ implementation of the research, and of analyzing the main outcomes together. They live and work in in Gallup, Boston, and New York City.
Seven US locations are now participating (or still considering joining!): Southwest Virginia, Gallup, NM, Oakland, CA, Trenton, NJ, New Orleans, LA, New York City, NY, and Boston, MA. Through monthly webinars, these local MAP teams have received training on the subjects of group facilitation and the ethical guidelines of the research. The webinars are also a space for co-learning where everyone can share the challenges they face and feel that they belong to a wider community going through the same demanding process. All local groups have been very busy conducting outreach to participants – lots and lots of outreach!
Meanwhile, the US Research Team has met regularly to design the project for our United States context. The task is clear: each local group will work to determine, define, and rank the dimensions of poverty. With guidance from the project’s International Coordination Team, the US Research Team chose creative and thought-provoking activities to meet these goals! During an in-person team work session in April, all members of the US Research Team carried out and then revised these activities together.
Today several local MAP teams are continuing to familiarize themselves with the procedures, facilitation, and activities by running mock groups. Other local groups have started to run the planned peer groups and a few have already finished and produced a report!
At the end of the four scheduled meetings of a practitioner peer group, they wrote in their report: “This MAP research has helped those of us who tend to think more micro to look at poverty through a macro lens, and vice versa. We better understand the complexity of extreme poverty and realize that we need to revisit our own practice to combat stereotypes and biases so that we can stop the cycle of people falling through the cracks.”
The MAP Research Project and the teams involved in the United States have come a long way in six months, but we also know that this is just the beginning. The next phase of the project includes continuing to support each location, reading the first round of peer group reports, and planning for a national Merging of Knowledge session in 2018, all while continuing to explore funding sources.