Capstone Courses and Projects
Brennan Center for Justice
The Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan think tank that combines public policy and public interest law to advocate for measurable legislative and legal changes that advance fundamental issues of democracy and justice in the legal sector. Following the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision, the Brennan Center for Justice commissioned a Capstone team to examine the impact that corporate independent expenditures have on representative democracy. To understand the effect, the Capstone team compared trends in democratic indicators such as voter turnout, electoral competitiveness, and corruption convictions across states with varying historical restrictions on corporate independent expenditures. The information was compiled and analyzed to support the Brennan Center's campaign finance litigation efforts.
Congressional Research Service
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) works for the U.S. Congress to identify and clarify policy problems, explore policy options and potential impacts, monitor and assess program implementation and oversight, and help lawmakers understand legislative procedures and processes. CRS was interested in understanding why the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which acts as a safety net against poverty for the elderly, blind, and disabled, has not grown in enrollment as rapidly as other income assistance programs. The client requested a Capstone team to study the effects of proposed SSI policies on enrollment, program cost, and the percentage of recipients under the federal poverty line. The Capstone team considered the effects of three SSI policy proposals, including the elimination of Social Security income, to calculate SSI benefits. The team also paid special attention to the incidence of poverty among the elderly recipients, particularly those individuals aged 85 and older.
Cricket Island Foundation & Social Justice Philanthropy Collaborative
Concerned that the full impact of the 2008 financial crisis has not yet been felt in the field of social justice philanthropy, Cricket Island Foundation (CIF), a New Yorkbased foundation supporting youthled social change, partnered with the Social Justice Philanthropy Collaborative (SJPC), a network of national philanthropic organizations that calls on grantmakers and donors to deepen their commitment to funding social change. Together they requested a Capstone team to assess the current asset value, spending rate, and investment strategies of national social justice funders and to project what those might look like through 2015. The Capstone team designed criteria to determine which foundations to study, created an interview tool, conducted background research and financial modeling on the study population, interviewed a subset of foundations, and highlighted emerging trends. The Capstone team presented its findings to the clients who will use this research to publish a report for national social justice funders and their grantees. The clients will use this data to drive longterm funding strategies and educate grantees about the financial health of the field.
New York City Department of Finance
The New York City Department of Finance (DOF) is the primary revenue collection agency for City government. DOF currently offers four programs designed to facilitate summons closure for owners of commercial fleets. The programs range from simple notification programs to substantial discounts in return for the commercial entity waiving its rights to contest a summons. The DOF engaged the Capstone team to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of its programs and determine whether they are still appropriate solutions to the presentday challenges and needs of commercial ticketing in NYC. The team conducted interviews with different stakeholders, researched best practices in other municipalities, and conducted quantitative data analysis to produce a report for the DOF. The report contains feasible policy and procedural recommendations that will help DOF improve and reenvision these programs with respect to the agency's policy objectives.
New York City Department of Transportation
In the design and construction of its streets and public spaces, NYCDOT seeks to use designs and materials that are high quality, durable, and cost effective. Currently, the full lifecycle costs and benefits of materials and designs are not considered when assessing NYCDOT capital streetscape projects. To help NYCDOT better understand the full lifecycle costs and benefits of various design and material choices, the Capstone team analyzed data on recent NYCDOT capital projects through two lenses: the current capital budget approach and the lifecycle costing analysis approach. The team conducted research on materials and designs currently used in sustainable streetscape projects in NYC, Chicago, and London. The results of the comparative analysis will be a useful framework for NYCDOT and other city agencies to use to assess future capital projects.
The Office of the Bronx Borough President
The Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx is a 575,000 square ft space that has been predominately vacant since 1994. The City is currently seeking a sustainable redevelopment plan for the Armory that is appropriate for the local community. The Capstone team was engaged to work with the Office of the Bronx Borough President and the Kingsbridge Armory Task Force to develop financial models for the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory. The Capstone team conducted a literature review, interviews, and a retail survey of the Kingsbridge neighborhood. As a final deliverable the team developed three financial models for the redevelopment along with baseline criteria to use to evaluate future Request for Proposals to redevelop the space.