MAPSCorps Youth Present Research to Improve Chicago Communities, One Step at a Time

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Courageous Conversations - July 2019
MAPSCorps youth mapping Chicago communities/Executive director of MAPSCorps Andres Alvear speaking at the group’s symposium on August 7

High school students from Chicago South Side-based MAPSCorps—a nonprofit data and youth employment group that is a William Blair community partner—presented their summer research findings from the city’s neighborhoods at a scientific symposium on August 7 at Malcom X College.

Thirteen youth teams showcased their data collection and research findings on health trends, community engagement and employment opportunities to a cheering crowd of city officials, civic leaders, teachers, researchers, professors, parents and William Blair staffers who attended.

The presentation reflected the work of 175 youth, who canvassed Chicago neighborhoods four days a week all summer, gathering data for a total of 34,463 business assets—valuable information used to improve their communities.

In addressing the students, Dr. Stacy Lindau, a University of Chicago physician scientist and founder of MAPSCorps, said: “You visited places, streets, and businesses and met people in communities that you had never been to before. Our intention is to expand your view of the world and your sense that you belong anywhere you can go. That this is our community together.”

Dr. Lindau also recommended Our America: Life and Death of the South Side of Chicago, written by South Side teens and published in 1997, as a perfect depiction of why MAPSCorps is important.

She shared a passage by one of the authors, LeAlan Jones, which resonated with the crowd: “‘This is our neighborhood. This is our city. And this is our America. We must somehow find a way to help one another. We must come together no matter what you believe in, no matter how you look, and find some concrete solutions to the problems.’”

Dr. Lindau complimented the hard work of all the students whose efforts are increasing the long-term health and vitality of Chicago. Students investigated a wide variety of topics—everything from healthy food options in the Altgeld community to healthcare in the Near West Side and the impact of gentrification within Logan Square.

Dr. Lindau founded MAPSCorps 11 years ago. The group hires local youth each summer and teaches them STEM skills to collect and analyze data on businesses and organizations. Researchers, teachers, scientists and organizations such as the Chicago Department of Public Health, the Cook County Land Bank, and tech startup NowPow use the data to provide better health and social services to residents living in high-poverty communities where vital resources are hard to find.

As a community partner, William Blair supported this summer’s expansion of MAPSCorps mapping territory which now includes 60 of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods.

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