Capstone Courses and Projects

Cameroon’s Institute for Medical Research and Medicinal Plant Studies

IMPM-Rx – Malaria Medicines for All
Malaria is responsible for 1 million deaths globally each year. With already weak health systems, sub-Saharan Africa shoulders 90% of the global burden of this deadly, yet easily treatable disease. In Cameroon, there is a 67% resistance rate to traditional malaria treatments, and 100,000 people die from the disease each year, creating an overwhelming need for new treatment options. Currently, Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies (ACTs) are the only proven, effective way to treat resistant strains of malaria. The Capstone team worked to create a viable business plan for the Institute of Medical Research and Medicinal Plant Studies (IMPM) to produce and distribute a cutting-edge, effective and affordable ACT home-treatment kit in Cameroon, attacking the problem head-on. The team is also identifying possible partnerships to facilitate collaboration between decision makers and professionals in the health sector and ensure that the political will for the project is sustained.

Centro Communitario de Santo Estevao Matola, Mozambique

Strategic Planning, Marketing, and Capacity Building for St. Stephen’s Community Center
Centro Communitario was founded in 1995 in response to the increasing number of street children in Matola, Mozambique, many of whom were turning to prostitution due to poverty and malnutrition. Despite the end of Mozambique’s sixteen-year civil war, the number of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) continues to increase due to the progression of the AIDS epidemic. Centro provides 200 children with primary education from pre- kindergarten through fourth grade, skills training, HIV/AIDS education, meals, scholarships for children entering public schools, and emergency assistance (such as potable water and electricity) to local families. The Capstone team developed a strategic and marketing plan to better position Centro to acquire resources to address the rising number of OVC in Matola and secure longer term funding. The team compiled a list of potential local donors, wrote a complete grant proposal to Mozambique’s National AIDS Council that will serve as a boilerplate for future applications, and created monitoring and evaluation tools to enable better reporting for future grant proposals and requirements. This Capstone was made possible with the support from an anonymous donor through FJC: A Donor-Advised Fund.

Doctors of the World

Making Volunteerism Work
Doctors of the World-USA (DOW) is a global health organization dedicated to mobilizing volunteer physicians to provide services where health has been hindered by human rights violations. The Capstone team has been asked to evaluate DOW’s current volunteer strategy and offer recommendations on how to formalize and improve their volunteer use, particularly as it pertains to health capacity building. Qualitative and quantitative research methods were used in an effort to understand volunteer use both at DOW and other similar global health organizations. The preliminary results indicate that in order for DOW to fulfill its mission, the current volunteer program requires significant improvement and ultimate expansion. Some recommendations for improvement and expansion include increasing volunteer use in program design and implementation, improved volunteer management systems, and creating and implementing an effective organizational development plan.

Medical Relief Alliance

Improving MRA's Medical Supply Donation Program in Kenya
Medical Relief Alliance's medical supply donation program facilitates the coordination and transportation of donated medical supplies and equipment from the United States to health centers in the Transmara district in southwestern Kenya. MRA asked the Capstone team to help streamline and improve its donation process to ensure that the medical facilities in Kenya are able to make the best use of the donated equipment and supplies, and to ensure local standards and policies are respected. The MRA Capstone team has created a toolkit consisting of surveys, linkage charts, and perception interviews that MRA can use in the future to evaluate hospitals before engaging in a donor-recipient relationship with them. The Capstone team concluded a field visit in February to implement the tools they created and gather contextual and community information. The field visit findings and toolkit further enhance the final evaluation of the donation program, which is based largely on the team’s best-practice research of well-established medical supply donation programs.

Center Education 2000+

Sustainability Evaluation of Center Education 2000+
Since its inception in 1999, Center Education 2000+ has made an indelible impact on Romania’s educational system by promoting democratic values such as openness, critical thinking, and creativity. The NGO’s diverse and impressive portfolio of educational programs all work to actively engage students in the evolution of a democratic system. Since the financial and institutional framework is evolving within the European Union policies, Center Education 2000+ is re-thinking its mission, structures, partnerships, and financial sources. The Capstone team engaged in a literature review on sustainability concepts and the NGO environment in Romania, a site visit to Romania to conduct key information interviews, and a written evaluation of the organization. The main report was submitted to the SOROS Foundation to secure permanent funding for Center Education 2000+ to ensure their role in educational reform and civil society engagement in Romania.

The Center for Evidence-Based Education

Carpe Vitam: Leadership for Learning: Where Do We Go From Here?
The Carpe Vitam: Leadership for Learning (LfL) initiative is an international project involving teams from Australia, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Greece, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This initiative specifically focuses on the role of school leadership in creating a stimulating learning environment not only for students, but also for those who support them in their learning at classroom and whole school level as well as in the home and community. Carpe Vitam: LfL ended in December 2005. The Carpe Vitam Capstone Team developed strategic options for the next phase of the initiative by summarizing “lessons learned” from the first phase of this initiative; conducting a needs assessment of complementary research institutions and non-governmental organizations from around the world who might want to join this international community of practice; specifying potential funders and approaches to engaging them; and outlining an international large-scale conference around Leadership for Learning.

Council of Chief State School Officers

Global Education Initiative
The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. CCSSO is launching a new Global Education Initiative to become a global leader in sharing best education policies and practices from around the world. To this end, the Capstone team conducted five case studies of models that CCSSO could use to implement this new initiative. Team members gathered data from written documents and personal interviews with executives from international organizations. Based on lessons learned from international organizations, the team provided CCSSO with a series of concrete recommendations and made initial contacts for future partnerships. The team made suggestions on structural, financial, and communication considerations and ways to deal with resistance to change and challenges to working in the international arena.This Capstone was made possible with the support from an anonymous donor through FJC: A Donor-Advised Fund.

Education Development Center

"Our World" Global Youth Questionnaire
The purpose of the “Our World” capstone project is to assist Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) and its partners in obtaining global youth perspectives on citizenship, identity, and world peace by coordinating the administration of a global questionnaire and analysis of the results. Utilizing a questionnaire developed by the client and its partners, the Capstone team collaborated with international youth agencies to survey youth (ages 15-24) from around the globe. The Capstone team negotiated the participation of these agencies, coordinated survey translations in French, Spanish, Arabic, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and Swahili, and developed online, email, and paper based surveys. The team then conducted a statistical analysis of the survey results, providing insight into the opinions of approximately 3,000 youth. The results of the team's findings will be presented at the iEARN Youth Conference in July 2006 in the Netherlands.

Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED)

Assessing the Efficacy of Health Research as a Development Strategy within Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers
In 1999, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank introduced the Poverty Strategy Reduction Paper (PRSP) process as a requirement for developing countries to receive concessional assistance. This research project sought to explore whether PRSPs can serve as a mechanism for coordinating health research as a strategy for reducing ill-health and poverty in developing countries. COHRED, a Geneva-based organization, works to enable countries, especially the poorest, utilize health research to promote health, health equity and development. The team conducted a review of all current PRSPs outstanding as of October 2005 (49 countries in total) to assess the extent to which they considered research and evidence to inform decisions and the policy agendas for health sector activities including monitoring and evaluation systems, health information systems, and specific types of health research. An extensive review of existing literature was complemented by interviews with experts from the World Bank, IMF and the international health and development field. The completed paper resulted in an overview of the current state of health research in PRSPs, recommendations addressing how health research could be included on the policy agenda for poverty reduction strategies, and how to ensure that the health research components of PRSPs are leveraged for the greatest effect.

Margaret Sanger Center International

Assessing the Safe Youth Worldwide Initiative in South Africa and the Dominican Republic and Strengthening MSCI’s Organizational Capacity Building Technical Assistance for Partner Organizations in Develo
Margaret Sanger Center International (MSCI) seeks to improve sexual and reproductive health and rights worldwide by strengthening local partners in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Pacific. The Capstone team worked with MSCI to enhance the quality of its technical assistance in the area of organizational development, which includes strategic planning, financial management, program development, monitoring and evaluation, fundraising, and partnership building. The team assessed the outcomes of MSCI’s technical assistance for partner agencies in the Dominican Republic and South Africa and identified the strengths and weaknesses of the Safe Youth Worldwide capacity-building initiative in each location. The Capstone team drew on the interviews and observations from the site-visits to write an Assessment of Organizational Capacity-Building to assist MSCI in future technical assistance programs. Based on these findings and an extensive literature review of current best practices, the team also developed a Resource Guide for Technical Assistance which includes definitions of key concepts in managerial development, checklists for organizational capacity, and resource lists for technical assistance training guides and tool-kits.

Rainforest Alliance

Sustainable Business Forum Market Research
Rainforest Alliance is an environmental nonprofit organization that works to protect ecosystems and the people and wildlife that depend on them by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. Rainforest Alliance is currently building its Sustainable Business Forum, which seeks the membership of big companies to educate and engage them in sustainable business practices. Membership in the Sustainable Business Forum would entitle companies to a variety of services including environmental policy consultation, environmental workshops, awareness raising and education on sustainability issues. Rainforest Alliance enlisted the Capstone team to identify potential members of this initiative. By analyzing company business, environmental policy and social responsibility records, the Capstone team has developed criteria relevant to inviting companies to become members of the Sustainable Business Forum. Based on these criteria, the team compiled 30 profiles of potential members and provided recommendations to Rainforest Alliance.

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA)

Public Enterprise Management
In the process of reinventing public enterprise management, there is an array of new constraints, demands, innovations and trends. These trends and their implications have been discussed throughout the year in detail at the UNDESA Expert Group Meeting and Committee of Experts. The Capstone team contributed research and analysis to a larger UNDESA publication arising from this meeting that is centered around the axes of management structure, legal and political frameworks, geopolitical considerations, and public/private partnerships. Data was gathered from expert meetings, case studies, and interviews to prepare a body of work addressing these themes with insights from public enterprise management experts.

Planejamento Arquitetnico e Ambiental

Developing a Workshop on Formal and Informal Sector Interaction in Urban Development for Rio de Janeiro
The state government of Rio de Janeiro recently sponsored a National Public Competition in an effort to generate ideas for an Urbanization Project Plan for the community of Rocinha, one of Rio’s largest informally constructed neighborhoods, known as favelas. The objective of the competition was to propose a development plan that best meets the needs of the community and improves quality of life for the residents of Rocinha. As part of its work for this competition, Planejamento Arquitetônico e Ambiental (PAA) asked the Capstone team to develop a community workshop on formal and informal sector interaction in urban development strategies for the city of Rio de Janeiro, with a particular emphasis on Rocinha. The project takes a community-focused approach to development with the goal of making urban development projects more inclusive. In order to develop the workshop, the Capstone team traveled to Rio de Janeiro to meet with key community stakeholders, conduct interviews, and do field research.

United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF)

Linking Sector and Municipal Investment Planning in Nicaragua: A Case Study of the Department of Boaco
Since 2000, UNCDF has worked with the Nicaraguan Government to develop a multi-level planning system that responds to both national and local objectives for development and poverty reduction through the creation of department-level planning bodies. UNCDF is now directing an evaluation of the department-level planning experience and its impact on the coordination of national and municipal investment programs. To strengthen the evaluation, the Capstone team conducted a case study of the planning experience in the Department of Boaco. Through interviews in the field with key actors and analysis of relevant data, the Capstone team tracked the progress of each investment project, from inception at the department level to realization in a municipal or national budget, to determine the extent of inter-governmental coordination within the new system. The case study will be incorporated into UNCDF’s final report and will inform the design of a strengthened national planning system that seeks to improve service delivery, increase participation and reconcile municipal and national development objectives.

United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF)

Performance Based Grant Systems: A Comparative Analysis of Experiences in Bangladesh, Nepal and Uganda
In order to meet the Millennium Development Goals, governments in developing nations will need to substantially improve their ability to deliver basic infrastructure and services. One of the most promising strategies for achieving this is the use of performance-based grants (PBGs). These grants introduce incentives to increase capacity at the local level. This project analyzes the PBG systems of three early-adopting countries: Bangladesh, Nepal and Uganda. Using a case study approach, the study examines factors contributing to the success, or lack thereof, of each system in increasing the performance of local governments. Capstone team members paid special attention to the operationalization of performance measures and strategies for increasing public participation. The political and administrative challenges of implementing PBG systems are also examined. The study concludes with recommendations for further research.

World Bank Institute

Anti-Corruption Impact Monitoring in the East Asia and Pacific Region
The World Bank supports a broad range of activities to reduce corruption in the East Asia and Pacific Region. While it has made significant investments, it has limited information about the extent of their impact on corruption levels in Bank-supported countries. To this end, the Capstone team was asked to develop a framework to help the Bank link project-level results with established corruption indicators. The Team conducted a literature review on the leading corruption assessment tools, analyzed their effectiveness, and developed an in-depth report on each tool as well as a matrix highlighting key features. A series of memos were written to underscore initial findings. In addition, the team reviewed five active projects covering a range of sectors from legal and judicial reform to public financial management and identified specific anti-corruption indicators that will facilitate the World Bank’s ability to monitor the effectiveness of their anti-corruption activities both temporally and across sectors in the region.

World Bank Institute

Engaging Line Ministries in Public Financial Management Reform in Cambodia
The Royal Government of Cambodia, in association with the World Bank, has recently implemented a series of public financial management reforms in order to better represent local interests and to more efficiently fund expenditures. The World Bank asked the Capstone team to map the current iteration of the budget execution process - specifically the phases from commitment to payment - and to analyze the impact of the reforms on the quality of budget execution. The team spent two weeks in Cambodia interviewing national and provincial ministry officials and other affiliated stakeholders to gain a ground-level view of the process. Subsequently, the team used a national survey to provide a richer data set, as well as a review of applicable public finance models to provide a contrast for measuring system performance. A seminar on initial findings and a presentation on change management were delivered in-country, along with a comprehensive report.

World Bank Institute

Building Communities of Practice for Better Planning: Steps Forward for Municipal Planning Offices in Guatemala
In order to include local input in the national infrastructure development plan, the Guatemalan Government created a decentralized public investment program known as the Sistema Nacional de Inversiones Publicas (SNIP). A crucial part of this program are the Oficinas Municipales de Planificacion, or OMPs, where investment projects are identified, evaluated, and prepared for approval by the national government. Anticipating their mission to Guatemala, the Capstone team researched Public Investment Programs throughout the world for comparative experiences, and participated in several videoconferences with SNIP stakeholders. Accompanying a Representative from the World Bank Institute, the team visited several municipalities in Guatemala to determine the capital, human, and technological resources available to OMPs. Using feedback from mayors, local planning directors, and other municipal representatives, the team identified various tactics to improve the effectiveness of the OMPs. These recommendations will be included in the World Bank Institute's training program for the First National Congress of OMPs in June 2006. The Capstone project highlights the importance of improving current practices within unique resource constraints, rather than building an ideal, yet impracticable system.