Building Healthy Communities

Grantee Name

Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center

Funding Area

Building Healthy Communities

Publication Date

August 2019

Grant Amount

$250,000

Grant Date:

April 2016 – March 2017

The health of residents in a community is dependent not only on access to quality health care, but also on the availability and knowledge of resources available.

If essential resources, such as health services, fitness opportunities, grocery stores, and public service centers, are not promoted, they run the risk of being unnoticed and underused. This is especially true in low-income communities, where it has been found that up to 30% of neighborhood assets are not returned by search engines such as Google.

MAPSCorps creates comprehensive maps of community assets and makes them available to the public through an online database. Doctors, social workers, case managers, community health workers, and other health care providers can use MAPSCorps’ data to help connect people to services close to where they live, including resources for healthy eating and active living. Also a youth employment training program, MAPSCorps provides meaningful work opportunities for high school youth, training them and pairing them in teams to collect, catalogue, and analyze the data.

NYSHealth awarded the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, in partnership with MAPSCorps, a grant to create a hub to replicate MAPSCorps in New York City.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

  • Recruited, hired, and trained 100 high school students as youth mappers and 30 undergraduate students as field coordinators, who then mapped 17,817 businesses and organizations (e.g., health and social service providers) in 14 ZIP codes in East Harlem, Brownsville, Two Bridges, and the South Bronx over the summers of 2016 and 2017.
  • Trained field coordinators on community mapping and youth development skills, as well as on how to identify community assets, critically assess public health trends, and apply youth development principles when leading small group activities.
  • Partnered with community-based organizations to serve as host sites in the neighborhoods being mapped.
  • Provided technical assistance to the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council to update its Grocery Guide, which aims to increase access to affordable and healthy foods available to the Lower East Side community.
  • Used data collected in East Harlem to create five community health resources focused on financial planning, alternative education and employment opportunities, fitness centers, services for youth living with HIV, and services for LGBTQ youth.
  • Created an asset census that provided inventories of all businesses, services, and organizations; used this data to create comprehensive maps of these community assets, made available to the public through an online database.
  • Worked with the New York Academy of Medicine to evaluate the program and its impact on youth mappers, field coordinators, and host sites, finding that:
    • Youth mappers reported having a positive work experience that would be valuable for their careers.
    • The community-based organizations that hosted the youth mappers felt that the collaboration was successful and reported that youth participants gained a new perspective on public health.

Mount Sinai encountered some challenges with finding and securing host sites in time for summer implementation of the mapping project; as a result, it did not meet its goal to recruit 140 youth mappers and 35 field coordinators as originally intended. Another challenge was determining the usefulness of the maps to the communities they represent. Demand for the online database was not as high as projected, as only 25 people requested access to the data from the public website in the first two years of its release. However, Mount Sinai has continued its partnership with MAPSCorps beyond this grant and worked with the communities to remap several of the same ZIP codes in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn in 2018, with plans to do so again in summer 2019. To date, more than 35 different stakeholders, such as government agencies, researchers, and community-based organizations, have requested access to the New York City data.

Co-Funding and Additional Funds Leveraged: N/A