Wagner Students Take the Fels Public Policy Challenge


The Wagner Town Hall on March 29 marked the beginning of a new tradition for NYU Wagner: the Public Policy Challenge. The Challenge, conceived and hosted by the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania, is a real-world competition to create the most exciting and promising civic campaign.  Teams of students compete over the course of the spring semester to develop a policy proposal to address an issue of public importance.  Teams are required to determine not only what ought to be done to improve a situation, but how to make it happen.

This year, for the first time, Fels invited select public service graduate schools to join them in the National Public Policy Challenge Competition, which will be held on April 22.

Three teams of Wagner students are involved: The New York Community Colleges Student Success Initiative have come up with a way to improve student outcomes at CUNY’s seven community colleges by increasing institutional transparency and fostering accountability; Reinventing the SRO  has proposed a policy change to expand the supply of affordable housing in New York City by legalizing the development of new Single Room Occupancy buildings; and Kinvolved has formulated a plan to increase student attendance and achievement in school by facilitating communication and information-sharing with families.

At the Wagner Town Hall, all three teams gave outstanding presentations and fielded questions from a panel of judges including Annette Diefenthaler, Senior Design Researcher and Project Lead at IDEO; Gara LaMarche, Senior Fellow at NYU Wagner; and Joanne Witty, Director of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation. The broader Wagner community also provided feedback through score sheets distributed to the audience.

On April 2, Wagner Dean Ellen Schall proudly announced via email to students that that the Kinvolved team—Miriam Altman, Barrie Charney Golden and Alexandra Meis—will represent NYU Wagner at the National Public Policy Challenge Competition. The team will compete against those from Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University, the Harris School at the University of Chicago, the Evans School at the University of Washington, and Fels for a $15,000 grand prize, to be awarded as early as the April 22   at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

To learn more about the annual Fels Public Policy Challenge, please visit http://www.fels.upenn.edu/challenge.

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