While the literature documents known barriers to research participation in underserved communities, there are still very few evidence-based strategies that have successfully addressed gaps regarding recruitment and retention. To this end, we developed a replicable model designed to establish community-academic partnerships and advance environmental health research in underserved communities. The Environmental Justice Community Alert Matrix (EJCAM) was implemented in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and includes programmatic elements of both citizen science and community engagement: (1) Outreach – Community Action Teams, (2) Involvement – Urban Transition Cities Movement, (3) Participatory Research – Mobile Air Quality Monitoring Bicycle Campaign, and (4) Consultation – Indoor Air Quality Assessments. Resident-led workshops were used to increase environmental consciousness in communities through peer-to-peer education. Adapting citizen science methods, commercially available particle counters were retrofitted to bicycles and the associated data used to develop GIS maps of particulate matter dispersion. Results show spatially-resolved PM 2.5 values increase from background levels by an order of magnitude or 1000 counts adjacent to construction sites and public transportation hubs. As distrust in outside institutions has limited the reach of environmental justice research in underserved communities, bottom-up principles that start with individuals are essential, and should be undertaken as a meaningful and ongoing process.