Starting in 2011, a team-based approach has been developed to connect NASA science with air quality and health communities. These teams, funded by the NASA Applied Sciences Program, promote collaboration within the team, communication with end-user communities, and the rapid advancement of applied research. The team structure provides increased flexibility to address high-priority research areas, better aligning research questions with user needs. The first NASA team built on this structure was the Air Quality and Applied Sciences Team (AQAST, 2011 to 2016), and continued with the Health and Applied Sciences Team (HAQAST, 2016 to 2019). Over the years of AQAST and HAQAST, we have experimented with different approaches to manage an Applied Sciences Team. We have adjusted our approach based on lessons learned and feedback gathered from stakeholders, team members, program mangers, and meeting attendees. We have found that this type of team succeeds by building a culture of collaboration, advancing communication with stakeholder communities, and identifying issues where the team structure can provide a rapid response. AQAST and HAQAST represent a model of funding and research with positive outcomes for air quality and public health engagement with NASA data and tools. This team-based approach is well suited to mission-driven, applied science activities.