NYU Wagner's Beth Noveck Aims to 'Liberate' Nonprofit Sector Data
In 2010, nonprofits in the U.S. numbered 1.5 million, with $1.51 trillion in revenues, and to find particulars or overall trends about this vast and growing sector of the economy, many people use the Form 990. This is the financial and organizational report that every tax-exempt organization submits annually to the Internal Revenue Service.
Yet, like many public documents, the forms are not so easy for researchers, practitioners, and others to access and analyze.
Writing in a recent paper, Beth Noveck, a visiting professor at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, along with co-author Daniel L. Goroff, a program director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, asked whether government transparency could be enhanced with technology to better support innovation, engagement, and outcomes in the nonprofit sector.
Noveck, who formerly led President Barack Obama’s Open Government Initiative, is immersed in studying the broad, important issue of how governments can better use tech-enabled platforms to engage the citizenry. In her Aspen Institute paper with Goroff, entitled “Information for Impact: Liberating Nonprofit Sector Data,” she finds that, like other data collected by the U.S. government, the information in the Form 990s could be far more beneficial “if it were not only ‘public’ but ‘open’ data.” That is: “Available to all, free of charge, in a standard format, published without proprietary conditions, and available online as a bulk download rather than through single-entry lookup.
“Making the 990 data truly open… would not only make it easier to use for the organizations that already process it,” the authors write, “but would also make it useful to researchers, advocates, entrepreneurs, technologists, and nonprofits that do not have the resources to use the data in its current form.”
The move would also encourage greater transparency by nonprofits, spur innovation in the sector, and “above all, help us to understand the potential value of the 990 data,” note the authors.
At present, the IRS creates Form 990 image files and sells DVD compilations to subscribers.
“Just as most people have gotten accustomed to sharing large files via a service like Dropbox, it would be simple for the IRS to publish the returns online for anyone to download in bulk for free,” Noveck wrote in a recent blog post about the paper.
But if converting the Form 990 into an open-data government document sounds straightforward, the co-authors find that it isn’t a simple delivery. Liberating government data of all kinds, they write, typically requires overcoming technological, political, and cultural barriers to change.
[Originally appeared in NYU Research Digest, Spring 2013].
Five NYU Wagner Groups and Individuals Win President's Service Awards
A host of outstanding Wagner individuals and groups have been recognized by New York University as recipients of the 2013 President's Service Awards.
The recipients, who were honored at a ceremony on April 17, include:
Wagner Environmental Policy and Action (WEPA) for their efforts in working tirelessly alongside Wagner staff, NYU's Sustainability Office and NYU Facilities to create a workable composting system at Wagner's offices in the Puck Building.
Wagner Health Network (WHN) for their innovative approach to student professional development, quality programming and unparalleled partnerships with the school and the university.
The Wagner Review for its commitment to and success in promoting rich dialogue on issues of public service among members of the NYU community.
Claudia Espinosa for exceptional leadership in founding the L.O.V.E. Mentoring Program and her commitment to serving the Latina community.
Matthew Guidarelli for his admirable efforts in coordinating the 2012 Social Enterprise Boot Camp.
All the winners have done themselves, and Wagner, proud!
Click here to view photos of the event.
Clinton Global Initiative University Features Students' "UPleaft" Project
NYU Wagner’s Maria Claudia Sarta Herrera, Jessica Troiano and Elizabeth Kelly made a commitment under the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) to create an all-natural beverage company. Their project - UPleaft - will generate income for farmers in Colombia and give consumers a healthier alternative to traditional high-sugar soft drinks. The project will establish partnerships with urban and rural small-holder farmers to create a sustainable income source. The students also hope to mobilize members of the community to train farmers in eco-friendly farming, harvesting and processing techniques, as well as provide them with access to financial services.
Upleaft was one of 16 commitments featured at the Clinton Global Initiative University held at Washington University in St. Louis on April 6. Upwards of 1,000 students representing more than 300 universities and 75 countries were in attendance.
The meeting examined critical topics, such as combating prescription drug abuse among young people, what it takes to launch a business as a young entrepreneur, and how to empower the next generation of girls and women around the world. Students gained further insight into today's pressing global challenges and acquired the skills needed to make progress on their own Commitments to Action.
Before the event was concluded, TV comedian Stephen Colbert “interviewed” former President Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, and some of the student presenters, including Wagner's own UPleaft creators.
NYU Wagner Fellow Explores Innovative Methods to Fund Social Programs
NYU Wagner Fellow Megan Golden’s recent report for the Children's Aid Society, "Developing a Social Impact Bond: Lessons from a Provider," explores how social impact bonds can tackle social problems while also saving the government money. Social impact bonds allow the government to contract for positive, cost-saving outcomes; deliver a modest return for investors; and can lead to positive social outcomes. With a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, Children's Aid Society began exploring how this innovative financing mechanism could be used to scale up some of its interventions for low-income children in New York City. Megan Golden’s report outlines the steps Children's Aid Society took and the lessons the nonprofit learned in developing several concepts for social impact bonds.
Though social impact bonds are a new innovation and require further research, they offer great promise. Frist, they enable government and service providers to track program outcomes in real time. They also provide the opportunity to envision, and plan for, a world where preventive programs are implemented at scale and expensive remedial programs play a smaller role.
Continuing her work, Megan is now working with the Institute for Child Success in South Carolina to study the feasibility of using social impact bond financing to expand early childhood interventions in that state.
RCLA Announces People of Color Leadership Network and IGNITE Fellowship
NYU Wagner’s Research Center for Leadership in Action is thrilled to announce new programming through the People of Color Leadership Network. The Network aims to strengthen communities of color by supporting leadership by and for people of color.
The People of Color Leadership Network will play an important role in connecting people of color to exchange best practices and support each other, in strengthening their development as leaders and managers at all levels within organizations, in promoting their engagement in relevant diverse networks where they can collaborate around common visions, and in expanding the impact they have individually and collectively within organizations, systems and on a global scale on issues of public importance.
The Network begins with the launch of the IGNITE Fellowship for Women of Color Leaders in the Social Sector. The fellowship celebrates and nurtures the leadership of mid-career women of color in nonprofits across the US. Applications are being accepted for the program through noon EST on May 24, 2013.
The People of Color Leadership Network represents the next chapter in the work started by the Women of Color Policy Network founded by the late NYU Wagner Professor Walter Stafford in 2000. The Network conducted original research to influence and shape local, state and national policies that affect women of color, their families and communities and offered leadership development for women of color. In 2008, the Network became an affiliate of RCLA. In 2012, we evaluated how we could have the greatest impact in supporting the vitally important public service work being spearheaded by people of color and impacting communities of color in the US. We saw a critical need to support leaders of color conducting research, advocating for more just and equitable policies, and providing services to communities that might otherwise be underserved.
The need to both lift up and support leadership by people of color is made more urgent by the dearth of positions of authority held by people of color despite demographic and workforce shifts. People of color make up one in three people in the US – a figure projected to increase to 54 percent by 2042. Yet 2011-2012 data from BoardSource and the D5 Coalition show that the number of people of color holding nonprofit and foundation CEO positions hovers around 10 percent.
As part of celebrating, enhancing and accelerating the leadership of women and men of color, the Network will serve as a resource to students and alumni. It will also maintain a commitment to understanding public policy and leadership issues with attention to the intersections of gender, race and other markers of difference, and will preserve a social equity lens in all of its work.
The Network’s programming is part of RCLA’s broader mission to build knowledge and capacity for leadership to transform society and commitment to developing more diverse and inclusive public service leadership.
Student Team Selected for National Public Policy Challenge Competition
After a competitive process full of talent and creativity, NYU Wagner has selected a student team to compete in the annual Public Policy Challenge, hosted by the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania. NYU Wagner’s finalists, Christine Han, Anna Swanby, and Rachel Szala, will compete in Philadelphia from March 15-17 against other student teams from universities around the country.
The Fels Public Policy Challenge invites students to develop a policy proposal to address an issue of public importance. Wagner’s winning team developed a tool called CluedIn, which would reduce the achievement gap by increasing knowledge of, and access to, afterschool programs. CluedIn connects parents, students, and teachers to share knowledge, give feedback, improve the quality of information, and increase choice. Ultimately, the tool aims to lower school absence, reduce substance abuse, and allow government agencies to better allocate resources.
There were two student teams contending for the final spot, who also developed innovative and entrepreneurial solutions to pressing social issues. Alisa Ahmadian, Ben Nemeth, and Natalie Relich created Second Stem, a partnership between consumers, farmers, grocery stores, and food banks that would reduce waste and provide food to populations in need. Grace Cheong, Iris Dooling, Hallie Martin, Bridget Mercier, and Gretchen Upholt designed Recordsync, a web-based application that would better link mental health records to the background check system for gun purchases, with the goal of reducing gun violence.
Congratulations to all three teams for these creative and inspiring ideas. And best of luck to Christine Han, Anna Swanby, and Rachel Szala at the national finals!
To attend the Fels Public Policy Challenge, please RSVP here.
Wagner Student to Lead SXSW Edu Conference's Workshop on Social Media
Higher education professionals know they need to use social media. But what about the analytics? Does one need fancy software? Is it necessary to pay the big bucks for a company to get this done?
Amanda Alampi, an MPA student at NYU Wagner who also works as a social media strategist at Sunshine, Sachs & Associates, is heading to the SXSW Edu Conference in Austin, Texas, to address these questions and lead a March 4th workshop on the new data landscape for higher education professionals.
It will be titled “Big Data, Big Problems? Beginner Guide to Analytics.”
Amanda’s also planning to deliver a TEDx talk in the spring. More details to come!
Student Team at NYU Wagner Vying for Hult Prize
A regionally diverse team of Wagner students — David Margolis (West Bloomfield, MI), Jacqueline Burton (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.), Laura Manley (Westfield, MA), and Ellen Nadeau (Clearwater, FL) — has been selected to advance to the prestigious Hult Prize regional finals on March 1st and 2nd.
The Hult Prize, in its fourth year, is the world’s largest student competition and crowdsourcing platform for social good. Recently, it was recognized by former President Bill Clinton and TIME magazine as one of the top five new ideas for changing the world. In partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative, the Hult’s crowd-sourcing platform identifies and launches social ventures aimed at some of the most pressing global challenges. Student teams compete for the chance to secure $1 million in start-up funding to launch a sustainable social venture.
The 2013 Hult Prize focuses on global food security, and how to get safe, sufficient, affordable, and easily accessible food to the more than 200 million people who live in urban slums. This focus was personally selected by President Clinton, and it has inspired the Wagner team.
The Wagner students are developing an initiative called Rootstock -- a digital service-learning platform that unites students from various disciplines and countries to collaborate on global food security issues, and implement their learning directly in the field. The pilot curriculum is about urban agriculture.
The regional competitions take place in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai, and Shanghai. The Wagner team will compete in San Francisco.
If selected, the students will attend a summer business incubator for their project. A final round of competition will be hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative at its annual meeting in September, where the winning team will be selected and awarded the grand prize by President Clinton.
Go Fitch, Go
Financial Times Economists' Forum
101 Careers in Healthcare Management
Springer Publishing Company
Friedman, Leonard and Anthony R. Kovner (eds.)
Careers in health administration continue to grow despite an overall downturn in the economy. This is a field that offers tremendous job opportunities across the spectrum of healthcare delivery and payment organizations. 101 Careers in Healthcare Management is the only comprehensive guide to careers in health administration, ranging from entry-level management positions to the most senior executive opportunities. The guide clearly explains the responsibilities and duties of each of these careers and how they differ from other management jobs. It describes the integral role of healthcare administrators in creating and sustaining the systems that allow healthcare clinicians to do their best work.
The book covers educational requirements, opportunities, traditional and nontraditional career pathways, and helps students assess whether they are temperamentally and intellectually suited to a career in healthcare management. Based on the most current data from the U.S. Department of Labor and professional societies in healthcare management, the guide describes careers in 14 different healthcare and related settings. These include long-term care, physician practices, commercial insurance, consulting firms, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, information technology, and biotechnology. Additionally, the book offers numerous interviews with health administrators, from those in entry-level positions to CEOs, to more vividly portray potential careers.
Race/Ethnicity-Specific Associations of Urinary Phthalates with Childhood Body Mass in a Nationally Representative Sample
Environmental Health Perspectives. 121:501-506.
Trasande, Leonardo, Teresa M Attina, S Sathyanarayana, Adam J Spanier, Jan Blustein.
Background: Phthalates have antiandrogenic effects and may disrupt lipid and carbohydrate metabolism. Racial/ethnic subpopulations have been documented to have varying urinary phthalate concentrations and prevalences of childhood obesity.
Objective: We examined associations between urinary phthalate metabolites and body mass outcomes in a nationally representative sample of U.S. children and adolescents.
Methods: We performed stratified and whole-sample cross-sectional analyses of 2,884 children 6–19 years of age who participated in the 2003–2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Multivariable linear and logistic analyses of body mass index z-score, overweight, and obesity were performed against molar concentrations of low-molecular-weight (LMW), high-molecular-weight (HMW), and di-2-ethylhexylphthalate (DEHP) metabolites, controlling for sex, television watching, caregiver education, caloric intake, poverty–income ratio, race/ethnicity, serum cotinine, and age group. We used sensitivity analysis to examine robustness of results to removing sample weighting, normalizing phthalate concentrations for molecular weight, and examining different dietary intake covariates.
Results: In stratified, multivariable models, each log unit (roughly 3-fold) increase in LMW metabolites was associated with 21% and 22% increases in odds (95% CI: 1.05–1.39 and 1.07–1.39, respectively) of overweight and obesity, and a 0.090-SD unit increase in BMI z-score (95% CI: 0.003–0.18), among non-Hispanic blacks. Significant associations were not identified in any other racial/ethnic subgroup or in the study sample as a whole after controlling for potential confounders, associations were not significant for HMW or DEHP metabolites, and results did not change substantially with sensitivity analysis.
Conclusions: We identified a race/ethnicity–specific association of phthalates with childhood obesity in a nationally representative sample. Further study is needed to corroborate the association and evaluate genetic/epigenomic predisposition and/or increased phthalate exposure as possible explanations for differences among racial/ethnic subgroups.
Banking The World
The MIT Press
(eds.) Cull, Robert, Asli Demirgüç-Kunt and Jonathan Morduch
About 2.5 billion adults, just over half the world’s adult population, lack bank accounts. If we are to realize the goal of extending banking and other financial services to this vast “unbanked” population, we need to consider not only such product innovations as microfinance and mobile banking but also issues of data accuracy, impact assessment, risk mitigation, technology adaptation, financial literacy, and local context. In Banking the World, experts take up these topics, reporting on new research that will guide both policy makers and scholars in a broader push to extend financial markets.
The contributors consider such topics as the complexity of surveying people about their use of financial services; evidence of the impact of financial services on income; the occasional negative effects of financial services on poor households, including disincentives to work and overindebtedness; and tools for improving access such as nontraditional credit scores, financial incentives for banking, and identification technologies that can dramatically reduce loan default rates.
Synthesising Views on West's Poor Growth
Financial Times Economists' Forum, 12-12-2012
A speculative bubble in the housing market comes with Dutch disease-like symptoms.
Urban Mobility in the 21st Century
The Furman Center for Transportationan and
Moss, Mitchell L. and Hugh O'Neil
Between 2010 and 2050, the number of people living in the world’s urban areas is expected to grow by 80 percent – from 3.5 billion to 6.3 billion. This growth will pose great challenges for urban mobility – for the networks of transportation facilities and services that maintain the flow of people and commerce into, out of and within the world’s cities.
Addressing the challenge of urban mobility is essential – for maintaining cities’ historic role as the world’s principal sources of innovation and economic growth, for improving the quality of life in urban areas and for mitigating the impact of climate change. It will require creative applications of new technologies, changes in the way transportation services are organized and delivered, and innovations in urban planning and design.
This report examines several aspects of the challenge of urban mobility in the twenty-first century – the growth of the world’s urban population, and changes in the characteristics of that population; emerging patterns of urban mobility; and changes in technology design and connectivity.
Do Federally Assisted Households Have Access to High Performing Public Schools?
Poverty & Race Research Action Council
Ellen, Ingrid Gould and Horn, Keren Mertens.
A family’s housing unit provides more than simply shelter. It also provides a set of neighborhood amenities and a package of local public services, including, most critically, a local school. Yet housing and education policymakers rarely coordinate their efforts, and there has been little examination of the schools that voucher holders or other assisted households actually reach. In this project we describe the elementary schools nearest to households receiving four different forms of housing assistance in the country as a whole, in each of the 50 states, and in the 100 largest metropolitan areas.We compare the characteristics of these schools to those accessible to other comparable households. We pay particular attention to whether voucher holders are able to reach neighborhoods with higher performing schools than other low-income households in the same geographic area.
In brief, we find that assisted households as a whole are more likely to live near low-performing schools than other households. Surprisingly, Housing Choice Voucher holders do not generally live near higher performing schools than households receiving other forms of housing assistance, even though the voucher program was created, in part, to help low-income households reach a broader range of neighborhoods and schools. While voucher holders typically live near schools that are higher performing than those nearest to public housing tenants, they also typically live near schools that are slightly lower performing than those nearest to households living in Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and Projectbased Section 8 developments and lower performing than those nearest to other poor households.
Approximating the DGP of China's Quarterly GDP
Applied Economics Volume 45, Issue 24, 2013
We demonstrate that the Data Generating Process (DGP) of China's cumulated quarterly Gross Domestic Product (GDP, current prices), as it is reported by the National Bureau of Statistics of China (NBSC), can be (very closely) approximated by a simple rule. This rule says that the annual growth in any quarter is equal to the annual growth in its previous quarter plus an error term that is only nonzero in the first quarter of each year and with small variance. We show that this rule fits the data well for the period 1992Q1–2005Q4 for total GDP. It also gives accurate forecasts for 2006Q1–2009Q4.
Why Do Chinese Households Save So Much?
VoxEU, August 28, 2012.
Using a dataset that covers 5 decades (1960–2009), we show that the main determinants of China's household savings rate are disposable income (measured by its reciprocal) and the old-age dependency rate. The income growth rate and young age dependency rate have a limited role. Our findings support the Keynesian saving hypothesis instead of Modigliani’s life cycle hypothesis, although precautionary saving motives are also important. We don’t find evidence that China's one-child policy or low interest rate drives the household savings rate. Both the sex ratio and the interest rate prove not significant. We show that the household saving curve is neither u-shaped nor hump-shaped, but positively sloped.
PhD-propositions in English and Mandarin Chinese
Transport, the Environment and Security: Making the Connection
Edward Elgar Publishing, Ltd.
Effective means of transport are critical under both normal and extreme conditions, but modern transport systems are subject to many diverse demands. This path-breaking book uniquely draws together the typically conflicting arenas of transport, the environment and security, and provides collective solutions to their respective issues and challenges.
From a primarily urban perspective, the author illustrates that the fields of transportation, environment (with an emphasis on climate change) and security (for both natural hazards and terrorism) and their interconnections remain robust areas for policy and planning. Synthesizing existing data, new analyses, and a rich set of case studies, the book uses transportation networks as a framework to explore transportation in conjunction with environment, security, and interdependencies with other infrastructure sectors. The US rail transit system, ecological corridors, cyber security, planning mechanisms and the effectiveness of technologies are among the topics explored in detail. Case studies of severe and potential impacts of natural hazards, accidents, and security breaches on transportation are presented. These cases support the analyses of the forces on transportation, land use and patterns of population change that connect, disconnect and reconnect people from their environment and security.
The book will prove a fascinating and insightful read for academics, students, and practitioners across a wide range of fields including: transport, environmental economics, environmental management, urban planning, public policy, and terrorism and security.
Changing Fortunes - How China's Boom Caused the Financial Crisis
Ph.D. thesis, August 28, 2012.
CHANGING FORTUNES - HOW CHINA’S BOOM CAUSED THE FINANCIAL CRISIS
Since the financial crisis in 2008 and the ensuing economic recession that rocked the world economy, plenty of blame has been going around. The chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, specifically singled out subprime mortgages and the Wall Street bankers that sold those mortgages. In bureaucratic jargon it is often dubbed a regulatory oversight failure. This study, however, shows that the Federal Reserve’s loose monetary policy at the start of the new millennium triggered the U.S. refinancing boom in 2003 and 2004, spurring personal consumption expenditures through home equity extraction. The U.S. spending binge boosted economic growth and savings in China and oil-exporting nations. The build-up of savings in China, which are heavily skewed towards fixed income assets, depressed interest rates worldwide from 2004 on. The decline in long-term interest rates accounts for the U.S. housing boom. Despite popular belief, the proliferation of exotic mortgage products can hardly be faulted for the U.S. housing boom and eventual bust.