MOre to Explore: Finance

Researching Sustainable Energy Solutions to Rural Electrification

Client
United Nations Development Programme
Faculty
Giuliano Bosi
Team
Hillary Dale, Alex Ducett, Andrew Maguire, Lois Taylor- Kamara
As a global knowledge network, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) advocates for sustainable human development and connects countries to experiences and resources to build better lives. In Swaziland, the UNDP provides policy support for the government on poverty alleviation, equitable social services provision, and good governance. UNDP and the Swaziland Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy engaged a Capstone team to determine the policy and financing challenges and opportunities for decentralized, renewable energy approaches to rural electrification. After conducting comparative research on renewable energy use, the team traveled to Swaziland and conducted stakeholder mapping and individual interviews with rural energy users. The team’s research culminated in a final report that includes recommendations on navigating the regulatory environment, identifying financing mechanisms, and addressing gaps in knowledge and awareness of renewable energy technologies. These findings will directly inform the UNDP’s newly launched Partnerships for Affordable Renewable Energy in Swaziland (PARES) program with Swaziland’s Ministry of Natural Resources.
Capstone Year

Analysis of Public Support Program Efficacy in Supporting the Disabled

Client
The Effect of Public Support Programs on Income Volatility
Faculty
Aram Hur
Team
Rebecca Augustin, Nichole Huff, Jaimie Vernon
Income volatility—substantial variation in household income—impacts roughly a quarter of American families and disproportionately harms the disabled because they are more likely to have low income. A Capstone team undertook a research plan to assess whether existing public support programs are effectively improving income stability. Departing from current studies that fail to differentiate between specific sources of financial vulnerability the team examined how disability status and type affect program effectiveness. The scope of the team’s research included the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a program designed to help needy families become self-sufficient. The team analyzed data from the 2014 Survey of Income and Program Participation and found significant differences in TANF effectiveness for the disabled, with important variations across disability types. These findings imply that support programs need to allocate funding according to the degree of vulnerability to effectively address income volatility.
Capstone Year

Evaluating the Feasibility of Diaspora Bonds in Financing Senegal’s Development

Client
United Nations Capital Development Fund
Faculty
Paul Smoke
Team
Youngbin Kim, Zenani Orengo, Siddharth Shah
The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) provides technical assistance to the world’s 47 least developed countries to promote financial inclusivity and improve local development finance. As identified in Agenda 2030, developing countries require innovative financing for sustainable development. UNCDF enlisted a Capstone team to investigate the feasibility of implementing the financial instrument diaspora bonds in Senegal. The team focused on assessing the feasibility of diaspora bonds in the Senegalese city Saint-Louis through the examination of investments by the Senegalese diaspora currently around the world. The team completed a literature review, a comprehensive analysis of the economic opportunities for Saint-Louis, and extensive interviews with various stakeholders in Senegal and members of the diaspora. The team’s final report provides an in-depth analysis of potential opportunities and challenges of funding local development projects in Saint-Louis through diaspora bonds.
Capstone Year

Investigating the Impact of Partisan Campaign Spending on the Role of State Attorneys

Client
The Changing Role of State Attorneys General
Faculty
Aram Hur
Team
Dahlia Darwiche, Christopher Echeverría, Rachel Wise
As partisanship and political gridlock have increased in America, many state attorneys general (AGs) have become engaged with the national political landscape. This is a shift from the traditional AG role of chief law enforcement officer. A Capstone team investigated this change and hypothesized that the shift might be related to increased partisan donations in state elections. The team analyzed data on campaign donations and state AG races between 2006 and 2014 and employed a difieren се-in- differences design around the 2010 change in campaign finance regulations resulting from the Citizens United vs. FEC ruling. The team found significant changes and patterns in the campaign finance landscape for state AG races after the regulation changes. These findings may help policymakers better understand the state AG as a new, nontraditional player in the partisan policy arena.
Areas Of Impact
Capstone Year

Evaluating the Economic Implications of Investment in New York City’s Subway System

Client
Returns on Investment in Transportation Infrastructure
Faculty
Aram Hur
Team
Bryant Feng, Timothy Hambidge, Miranda von Salis
Better public transportation is widely considered to have economic and social benefits. With federal transportation infrastructure spending in decline, local governments are forced to weigh the potential benefits of investment in transportation against politically unpopular increases in taxes and fees. What is the return on investment to transportation infrastructure, and more importantly, who does it benefit? A Capstone team conducted a systematic evaluation of the economic consequences of investment in New York City’s subway system by differentiating between levels of investment and type of economic benefit. The team compiled a detailed dataset of transportation and economic indicators by zip code tabulation areas and used a variety of statistical techniques—including matching analysis—to better isolate the effect of transportation improvement. Their findings have implications for how best to prioritize the investment of limited public funds available for transportation infrastructure.
Areas Of Impact

A Comprehensive Financial Strategy to Ensure Continued Clinic Operations

Client
HeartShare St. Vincent's Services
Faculty
Susan Abramowitz
Team
Juan Ospina, Alexandra Paans, Rogers Pali, Arti Trehan
HeartShare St. Vincent’s Services (HSVS) is a nonprofit organization that empowers over 6,000 youth, individuals, and families to overcome challenges of family crises, addiction, mental illness, and poverty. The Integrated Health Services division of HSVS provides mental health, chemical dependency, and clinical services to children, adolescents, and adults. However, the clinics are losing about $1 million annually and are in danger of closing. HSVS enlisted a Capstone team to assess its profitability problem and propose strategies for becoming financially viable. The team completed a literature review and market assessment, followed by a thorough financial analysis identifying opportunities for maintaining or improving current channels of revenue and potential areas for reducing costs. The team also conducted interviews with patients to identify opportunities for increasing patient satisfaction and market position, and interviews with staff to identify opportunities to increase operational efficiency. The team’s research culminated in recommendations that will alleviate HSVS’s financial instability and enhance its sustainability.
Areas Of Impact
Capstone Year

Developing a Risk Extraction and Information Control Method and Visualizing Industry Risk Data

Client
Grant Thornton
Faculty
Regina Gurvich
Team
Malik Dent, Supreet Kalsi, Bethlehem Kebret, Alex Lengle, Amanda Mohabir, Hetal Patel, Ethan Roaldi, Yingxuan Wang
Grant Thornton is the American member firm of Grant Thornton International, one of the world’s leading audit, tax, and advisory services firms. The firm’s Business Risk Advisory Services department developed a new risk assessment approach that aligns risk management with business strategy. Grant Thornton enlisted a Capstone team to create methods of identifying, prioritizing, visualizing, and managing key risks in the healthcare industry. Based on the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations, or COSO, framework, the team analyzed and classified publicly-filed risk factors from the financial statements of 10 healthcare organizations. The team developed four risk categories: strategic, compliance, reporting (financial), and operational. The team then visualized their data to analyze risk trends. The visualization depicted the following: risk changes, risk distributed by industry, overall risk severity, and individual companies’ risk relative to their competitors’. The team delivered a user-friendly visualization tool that highlights overall trends and patterns.
Areas Of Impact
Capstone Year

Developing Financial Models for Programmatic Stability

Client
Greencorps Chicago
Faculty
Brian David
Team
Matthew Bender, Zun Geng, Katsiaryna Supino, Yinlingyan Wang
Greencorps Chicago (GC) provides green industry job training programs for individuals in Chicago with barriers to employment. GС participants receive a stable income, work experience, training and certification, and wraparound services to improve their likelihood of sustaining employment upon the culmination of the program. GС currently operates as a public-private partnership between the City of Chicago and a local landscaping firm, providing landscaping and ecological restoration services to other government agencies and entities. However, the current structure does not provide the organization with consistent and predictable revenue streams. GС enlisted a Capstone team to review and build financial models that would provide GС with greater financial and programmatic stability. The team conducted a literature review; interviewed peer organizations; and analyzed GC’s structure, finances, and market position. Based on their findings, the team delivered a final report to GС recommending a structural model that best positions the program for financial sustainability and program expansion.
Areas Of Impact
Capstone Year