Capstone Courses and Projects
Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy is a leading resource for key issues concerning the use, regulation, and taxation of land. The Institute engaged the Capstone team to build on a previously conducted overview assessment of metropolitan governance, finance, and service delivery in Cape Town, South Africa. The team first conducted field research in Cape Town, focusing on how city institutions respond to the challenges of rapid urbanization, particularly in the provision and spatial configuration of housing and related services. The team used field interviews and secondary research to document current patterns and mechanisms for service delivery to identify key constraints being encountered, and to review priorities and options for improving the present situation. Adding to a growing body of Lincoln Institute work on the challenges of metropolitan government, the final report will be made available as a resource for scholars and practitioners interested in local public governance and finance.
Municipal Development Partnership for Eastern and Southern Africa
Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) are a relatively new means of service delivery in Uganda and have mostly occurred in the form of large, national-level projects. Recently, local governments have explored the potential of partnerships in order to provide better services to their residents. To help facilitate local governments in developing these partnerships, the Municipal Development Partnership for Eastern and Southern Africa (MDP-ESA) requested a Capstone team to conduct a baseline study of Wakiso Town in Uganda and to assess needs and capacity issues specific to the town. The team interviewed several key stakeholders to identify issues, opportunities, and problems, and prepared recommendations to MDP-ESA and the Wakiso town council by outlining ways to increase capacity for more effective use of PPPs in the future.
National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development
The proposed Sub-national Investment Facility (SNIF) is a project-based financing facility to be made available to sub-national administrations at the provincial, district, and commune levels to support sustainable investments in local infrastructure and economic development. Working with the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development (NCDD), the Capstone team produced a comparative case study analysis of the existing sub-national infrastructure finance mechanisms in five developing countries; conducted field research with staff from various central government ministries and international development institutions to identify political, legal, and capacity considerations important for designing and implementing the SNIF; and developed a set of policy options and recommendations regarding the legal status, governance structure, financing models, and project criteria for the NCDD to consider in moving forward with defining and establishing the SNIF.
United Cities and Local Governments
United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) is an international organization that represents and defends the interests of local governments on the world stage. The Global Observatory on Local Democracy and Decentralization (GOLD) was launched by UCLG in 2006 as part of its objective to become a main source of information on local self-government, local authorities, governance, local democracy, and the exchange of know-how. The Capstone team supported UCLG’s Africa Section on the third GOLD report (GOLD III), providing an analysis of service delivery and local governance in various cities of Africa, with particular focus on Accra, Ghana and Kampala, Uganda. The team collected data and conducted interviews with local government officials in Accra and Kampala. The GOLD III report will offer policy recommendations on strengthening local governments’ ability to meet their responsibilities for providing basic services: water, sanitation, solid waste managements, public transport, and electricity.
United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF)
United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the UN’s capital investment agency for the world’s least developed countries, supports the development of finance institutions for poor households and small business, as well as local government finance mechanisms for capital investments that decrease poverty. In an effort to make information on local development more easily and widely accessible, UNCDF requested a Capstone team to assist with the development of its new initiative, the Local Development Academy (LDA), a web-based ”knowledge-center” for local governments, individuals and institutions involved in local development. UNCDF asked the team to help generate a conceptual review of the LDA and to assist with content research. The team organized a workshop with leading local development academics and assembled information on academic and professional literature on a wide range of topics relevant for local development. The team presented findings and recommendations to UNCDF on the LDA conceptual design, content, and user-friendliness.
World Bank and National Council for Education Development
CONAFE, a federal institution created in 1971, seeks to generate greater educational access and increase retention/achievements in marginalized localities in Mexico. In order to advance the cooperative federalism approach to public service delivery, CONAFE designed GEMUN to involve municipalities in planning and implementing programs through the experimentation with contractual delegation arrangements. The Capstone team conducted interviews with key stakeholders involved in the administration of GEMUN at the national, state, and municipal levels to understand their perceptions of the nature and scope of the experiment. After compiling the interview data, the team drafted a report documenting the perceptions of the different stakeholders, the extent to which GEMUN is achieving institutional and sectoral development results, and the gap between the original concept and its actual implementation on the ground. The report was jointly commissioned by CONAFE and the World Bank as part of efforts to evaluate and revise the program’s design.
Academy of Responsible Management
The Philippines has a history of philanthropic giving, particularly from large privately owned Filipino organizations. Today, many organizations have evolved from simple philanthropy to embedding Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into their business models. However, there is room for improvement and gaps remain where needs exist. Although many Filipino organizations include multiple and diverse CSR programs, CSR training is necessary - specifically to induce systemic impacts within the triple bottom line: social, environmental and financial outcomes. The Academy of Responsible Management (ARM) based in Malaysia engaged the Capstone team to research the existing CSR climate, programs, and training gaps in CSR, specific to Filipino organizations, in order to identify present and future CSR program and training needs. Through desk research, in-country interviews, and a current conditions profile, the team created a gap analysis and conducted a needs assessment to aid ARM in identifying training capacity in the Philippines.
East Meets West Foundation
East Meets West (EMW) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming the health, education, and communities of disadvantaged people in Asia by building partnerships, developing opportunities, and creating sustainable solutions. In central Vietnam, more than 900 students are enrolled in EMW’s Scholarship Program to Enhance Literacy and Learning (SPELL), which provides underprivileged students with funding for general school expenses, room and board, bikes, and supplemental tutoring. Currently, the program no longer accepts new students at the high school level; EMW is concerned with declining student achievement and program implementation. The Capstone team traveled to Vietnam to administer surveys and conduct focus groups and interviews with local partners, school administrators, parents, and nearly 500 students in 22 schools across three provinces. After compiling the data, the team recommended improvements to the program implementation structure and funding process, and highlighted the importance of tutoring funds in relation to students’ academic success.
Founded in 2008, Foundation Rwanda (FR) is a nonprofit organization that supports children born from rape committed during the 1994 genocide. While FR originally focused on financing education, the organization currently seeks to expand its work by providing more holistic support to these children and their caregivers. The Capstone team conducted qualitative research to identify the needs of FR’s beneficiaries and identified services that will enhance the target population’s academic achievement and enrich their daily lives. The team’s final report includes projected costs for holistic service packages and a strategy for offering FR’s beneficiaries greater access to economic empowerment opportunities as well as physical and psychological care.
Global Goods Partners
Global Goods Partners (GGP) is a nonprofit organization and certified fair trade retailer whose mission is to improve the social and economic well-being of women artisans around the world. Working with 30 community-based organizations in 18 countries, GGP helps generate income and provides capacity building grants to strengthen partners’ businesses and support sustainable community development. The Capstone team worked with GGP to revise its annual partner survey and enhance its monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework. By revising the survey, GGP would obtain a clearer sense of partners’ needs and progress, better allocate resources, strengthen partner relationships, and improve marketing strategies. The team began by visiting GGP partner organizations in Cambodia and India to interview artisans and staff. In addition, the team conducted domestic interviews with organizations and experts in the fields of M&E and fair trade. A final report was compiled documenting research findings and recommendations for GGP’s M&E framework.
Local Government Unit of Libon, Albay Province, Philippines
The Local Government Unit of Libon (LGU) recently incorporated an electronic medical records system to better serve its constituents. The Capstone team was requested to provide recommendations for using this system to guide public health policy at the municipal level. The team designed a multi-stakeholder interview process to assess community health perceptions and used municipal public health data to identify areas of focus. After studying international best practices, case studies of similar contexts, and international public health targets, the team constructed a guide outlining high-value strategies to target and enact public health policies. The completed guide consists of recommendations that will help the LGU effectively use its limited public health budget to best meet the needs of its constituents in light of the real-time data stream provided by the new electronic medical records system and existing regional and national health priorities.
World Connect is a nonprofit that gives micro-grants to empower grassroots community organizations to improve health, environment, and employment opportunities for women and youth. World Connect is at a critical juncture in its development, seeking funds from larger institutional donors to scale impact. The organization requested a Capstone team to evaluate their current grant-making process and priorities. First, field visits to Costa Rica and Peru were conducted to gain a better understanding of World Connect’s partnership with the Peace Corps and local community partners. Staff, Peace Corps Volunteers, local project leaders, community leaders, and project beneficiaries were then interviewed to form a clearer picture of World Connect’s current strategy. This information was compared to industry leaders within different sub-sets of the international development market, resulting in various recommended paths World Connect could take as it shifts current fundraising and communications strategies to target a wider range of donors.
Amend is a US-based international nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the epidemic of road traffic injuries in Africa. In order to achieve its mission, Amend’s current services include primary school road safety education programs, advocacy campaigns, and scientific research. Now at a critical point in their organizational expansion, Amend requested a Capstone team to create guidance to improve Amend’s ability to recruit and manage current and future staff. The Capstone team reviewed literature on human resource norms and best practices; conducted interviews and focus group discussions with Amend’s management and staff in Tanzania; and interviewed Tanzanian peer organizations. The Team then synthesized the information and produced a Human Resources Manual as well as a guide for its implementation.
Counterpart International is a nonprofit organization focused on building sustainable communities around the globe. In 2008, Counterpart International began implementation of the Ethiopian Sustainable Tourism Alliance (ESTA), enhancing regional biodiversity conservation and economic development through the development of sustainable tourism products and activities. Counterpart International engaged the Capstone team in order to help the organization better articulate the ways in which the program has been successful in meeting its intended goals. The team first evaluated literature on ESTA activities, outputs, and relevant indicators in order to identify remaining questions about the impact of the program, potentially scalable aspects, and any overlap with similar programs worldwide. The team then traveled to Ethiopia to interview key stakeholders, program beneficiaries, and NGO partners; consequently, producing a report evaluating the ESTA intervention. The report highlighted successful outcomes of program activities, offered recommendations on compelling programmatic themes, and pinpointed scalable aspects for future ecotourism interventions.
Planned Parenthood Global
Since the early 1990s, Planned Parenthood Global (PP Global) has developed the Youth Peer Provider (YPP) model to train young people to provide contraceptives as well as sexual and reproductive health information to their peers. PP Global requested the support of a Capstone team to carry out an evaluation of its YPP program, implemented by the Luisa Amanda Espinoza Association of Nicaraguan Women. The team designed an evaluation plan, created relevant tools, collected data, and analyzed evaluation data from the field in Nicaragua. Data collected by the team and program staff included self-reported knowledge and behavior among program participants and non-participants, program records, and program implementation information. The team analyzed both quantitative and qualitative data collected from the sites in Nicaragua through interviews, record review, and surveys. The team delivered a formal research report, a presentation, and memo of additional findings to PP Global.
Scholars at Risk Network
Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of institutions and individuals working to promote academic freedom and to defend the human rights of scholars worldwide. Founded in 2001, SAR is now at an inflection point in both its scale and services. The Capstone team executed an online survey with more than 200 scholars participating, and conducted in-depth interviews with selected self-identified scholars. The gathered data was used to evaluate the impact and satisfaction level of services rendered over the past 12 years and will be used to refine services and selection criteria, as well as to develop targeted candidate profiles. The project examined the experiences and outcomes associated with scholars who received different levels of service and produced results that will serve as a primary supportive tool in facilitating additional program partnerships and will enable SAR to significantly increase capacity and the number of scholars served by 2017.
United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)
United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) provides community-based health programs, operating within the infrastructure of United Methodist hospitals and clinics across 80 countries. Currently, one main challenge for United Methodist Church (UMC) leadership, governance, board, and staff is to track and assess financial and operational activities of hospitals and clinics. The Capstone team developed and implemented a framework to assess the financial and operational viability of four health facilities in Sierra Leone. This framework informed various recommendations for internal sustainability of these health facilities within the UMC network. The Capstone team also produced policies and guidelines for new donors, dedicated donors, mission coordinator volunteers, and UMC Health Boards to prioritize hospital funding allocations. While the project focused on the context of UMC facilities in post-conflict Sierra Leone, the assessment framework and recommendations are adaptable for use by the greater UMCOR health network in order to promote greater sustainability.
United Nations Development Programme: HIV, Health and Development Practice
In 2008, the World Health Organization estimated that 63% of global deaths were due to Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs), mainly cancers, chronic respiratory or cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. In response, the United Nations General Assembly Special Session adopted the Political Declaration on the Prevention and Control of NCDs, which the United Nations Development Programme is responsible for assisting member states fulfill. A Capstone team was requested to research successful approaches and develop a summary report of current NCDs plans. The team first established an analytical framework to review common NCDs risk factors as well as high-value and cost-effective interventions from around the world. Next, the team traveled to Tanzania to research and prepare a case study on the country’s current NCDs planning, looking at multi-sectoral approaches and the flow of information and knowledge. Finally, drawing on both the framework and the case study, the team developed a report outlining current planning processes and providing recommendations for implementation.
When people migrate across national borders, they often encounter challenges in having their skill recognized and valued in the labor markets they enter. Migrants with skills that place them in-between the categories of highly skilled knowledge workers and unskilled workers face obstacles that are particularly daunting: their skills often remain unrecognized and unrewarded in new labor markets, and migrants who once filled positions as nurses, skilled construction workers, chefs, mechanics, and other professions often find themselves pushed into low-wage jobs for unskilled workers after they migrate. The Capstone team partnered with the World Bank to explore policy tools designed to address the challenges faced by mid-skilled migrants. Through qualitative research, including extensive interviewing and on-site ethnographic observation, the team analyzed several programs crafted to support migrants from the Philippines, the Pacific Island region, and Mexico; the programs examined helped migrants develop skills and equipped them with the institutional tools – such a certification and agreements negotiated among countries about which skills were required for which profession – to make their skills visible across labor markets. In its analysis of these programs, the team explored possible obstacles to effective implementation such as sources of financing, the negation of institutional partnerships, and reaching agreements about the specific skill required for any given job. Using findings from this first round of research, the team investigated the institutional changes required to create a program for the skill development and skill recognition of nurses and home health care workers between France and North Africa.