“MAPSCorps meaningfully engages and employs youth in hands-on, real-world research that produces data everyone can use to do our best work in and for the communities we serve. For more than half the youth we employ, MAPSCorps if their first paid job ever. Together, we are building an asset-oriented view of our communities and a pipeline of talent who not only learn to recognize assets, but quickly develop evidence-driven ideas about how asset and other data can be used to build stronger, healthier and more vibrant communities.”
The bioethical principle of justice, or the fair allocation of resources, is a motivating and unifying theme in our research. Beginning in 2007, building on principles of community-based participatory research (familiar to the researchers) and asset-based community development (familiar to community practitioners), we developed and implemented an asset-based, community engaged research approach to population health improvement. This approach – a blueprint for our work for more than 15 years – begins with engagement and employment of youth from target communities, youth-led identification of community assets, and broad data sharing. Together with community stakeholders and other academic collaborators in 2008, we created MAPSCorps, an organization with a vision to “cultivate scientific minds, healthy people and invested citizens from the assets of our communities.” In 2016, MAPSCorps, 501c3 was established in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, continuing its annual youth-led, comprehensive “feet on the street” asset census in Chicago and replicating the program in urban, rural and Pacific Island communities across the U.S. As of 2023, MAPSCorps had provided meaningful employment to nearly 3000 youth, >90% of whom identify with racial and ethnic groups under-represented in STEM fields. MAPSCorps produces data about every operating business and organization in target geographies, along with custom data to meet local needs (e.g. youth homeless encampments, land bank properties, sidewalk temperatures). In addition, with support from a Round One (2012-15) Health Care Innovation Award (HCIA) from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), MAPSCorps data were deployed to power CommunityRx, a digital technology that integrates with electronic medical record and other client management systems to generate personalized community resource referrals for basic, social, wellness, disease self-management, caregiving and end of life needs. Together, MAPSCorps and CommunityRx have yielded data and insights that undergird our multifaceted program of research in the fast-growing social care field.
Read about our study on the implementation of the CommunityRx system, a population health innovation that promoted clinic-community linkages via: a youth workforce (MAPSCorps) that conducted an annual community resource census; Community Health Information Specialists (CHIS) who supported cross-sector resource navigation; and a health information technology (HIT) for prescribing community resources.