Community Ambassador Initiative

A major barrier to research participation is that studies are largely conducted in the physical location of our academic institutions, rather than in the community. This places a substantial burden on participants. With the right support, researchers can connect to community organizations to increase trust and their use of remote research tools, which would allow research to be conducted in diverse community settings. This shift could significantly enhance inclusivity and accessibility, ensuring that a broader spectrum of people can participate in and benefit from research.

The Harvard Catalyst Community Engagement program has developed the Community Ambassador Initiative, which engages community-connected individuals across the state of Massachusetts to address this barrier of limited participation in research. Ambassadors play a crucial role in identifying recruitment partners, advising on recruitment activities, and building the capacity of study staff for improved recruitment and retention processes. This initiative serves as a proactive step towards making research more inclusive, breaking down barriers to participation, and fostering a collaborative approach to community-engaged research.

Please complete this form if you are interested in connecting with Community Ambassadors to support these efforts within your research program.

Role of Community Ambassadors

  • Support research teams to identify and connect with community partners in Massachusetts. Ambassadors may have statewide connections around a specific topic area or connections with residents of a particular city or county.
  • Advise on enrollment plans and activities that align with community needs and interests.
  • Provide tailored technical assistance to build the capacity of research team members on community engagement best practices.
  • Refer research teams to other Community Engagement program services (e.g., online course, self-service tools, Community Coalition for Equity in Research), as appropriate.
  • Participate in community engagement activities and events designed to increase participation in clinical research.

Role of Research Team

  • Engage in open, constructive, and respectful conversations with Community Ambassadors over three to twelve months.
  • Include study team members (research assistants, postdocs, project managers, etc.) in meetings to embed community engagement learning in project plans and processes.


  • Studies must be approved by community members for inclusion.
  • Studies must utilize methods that allow participation outside of the hospital and/or university setting.