Ford Foundation Appoints NYU Wagner alumnus Javier Valdés as U.S. Director of Civic Engagement and Government
Bringing with him decades of expertise and a deep commitment to social justice, NYU Wagner alumnus Javier Valdés is j
DEVELOPING SUSTAINABLE SCALING AND FUNDING PATHWAYS
DAYLIGHT was founded in 2013 to build intersectional racial justice across disciplines, sectors, and geographies through a range of activities, including research, advocacy, and client-specific interventions. DAYLIGHT’s founder enlisted a team to help move the organization forward into its next phase by expanding the enterprise and securing sustainable funding sources. The team outlined potential scaling options and researched and analyzed several sustainable funding pathways for DAYLIGHT’s consideration, including the pros and cons, action steps, and examples of potential partners for each pathway. The team delivered a report and companion slide deck on DAYLIGHT’s model, program offerings, and work to-date to clarify its message and offerings for potential partners and stakeholders.
COMMUNITY-LED INITIATIVE TO ADDRESS FOOD INSECURITY AND GUN VIOLENCE
New York State Senator James Sanders Jr. represents the 10th Senate District, which encompasses Southeast Queens. The community that he represents has historically faced high levels of food insecurity and gun violence, and these issues have sharply increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Sanders engaged a team to provide recommendations for implementing a community-led initiative addressing both food insecurity and gun violence in District 10. The team conducted research on the current state of these issues in Southeast Queens, produced a literature review of pertinent surveys and initiatives that have been implemented nationwide, and carried out a needs assessment of the community. The team’s analysis included designing and administering a community survey and conducting in-depth interviews with local community leaders and other programs to assemble best practices. In response to its findings, the team compiled a comprehensive action plan with recommendations for community-led initiatives to reduce food insecurity and provide meaningful opportunities for residents of all ages.
EVALUATING THE IMPACT OF AMAZON’S EXPANSION ON NYC COMMUNITIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Make the Road New York is the largest community-based membership organization representing immigrants and working-class people of color in New York State. Through its Workplace Justice team, the organization fights for the rights of all workers by organizing for workers’ rights, providing health and safety education and support, and advocating for policy and systems change. In the context of COVID-19 and forthcoming recovery efforts, Make the Road New York enlisted a team to evaluate the impact of Amazon’s NYC expansion on local communities and the climate. Since opening its first warehouse in Staten Island three years ago, Amazon has grown and spread its operations throughout the greater New York City area. The team engaged the impacted communities, investigated the felt impact of Amazon’s growth, and developed policy recommendations to inform a forward-looking legislative campaign.
POLITICAL ANALYSIS OF STATE AND FEDERAL LEGISLATIVE SUPPORT FOR A LIVABLE MINIMUM WAGE
One Fair Wage (OFW) is a national coalition, campaign, and organization working to ensure that all tipped workers are guaranteed a livable minimum wage. The organization seeks to accomplish its goal through state and federal campaigns, including legislative relationship building, policy advocacy, voter engagement, and community organizing. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated preexisting wage inequality and increased the urgency for legislative change, and the new political landscape has shifted OFW’s legislative focus from the state to the federal level. OFW engaged a team to conduct research and produce political analysis on the legislative support needed to pass fair wage legislation. The team delivered three legislative reports—two providing state-level analyses and the third analyzing the behavior of US Senators from select states. The team’s final report also includes a state case study containing best practices for OFW’s use in future research efforts.
DEFINING AND MEASURING JUST OUTCOMES IN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Urbane Development is a certified minority-owned business enterprise that develops and deploys customized wealth building and equitable community development interventions in underserved communities by cultivating “anchor” institutions and investing in entrepreneurial activities within the communities it serves. In the absence of a standard mechanism for comparing justice outputs across projects or identifying junctures at which justice might be advanced, the organization engaged a team to help develop and apply meaningful key indicators of justice to its work. The team examined different definitions and manifestations of justice, empirically validated methodologies for measuring justice within the community development sector, and performed an intensive literature review. The team synthesized its findings to develop a justice rubric consisting of evaluative questions for Urbane Development’s staff, and created a customizable dashboard for calculating quantifiable justice “scores.”
ANALYZING RISK FACTORS FOR ADVERSE OUTCOMES TO COVID-19
FAIR Health is a nonprofit organization committed to bringing transparency to healthcare costs and insurance. The organization engaged a team to uncover the most important risk factors for adverse outcomes to COVID-19 (such as hospitalization and mortality). Leveraging material from the organization’s collection of 32 billion health insurance claims—the largest collection of private health data in the country—the team ran statistical analyses on claim data to identify significant risk factors associated with patient demographics and clinical characteristics. The team used this analysis, along with findings from a literature review, to compile a report that includes key findings, recommendations for at-risk populations, and a dissemination plan for various policy and clinical stakeholders to use.
EXAMINING HOW 421A MAY HAVE REINFORCED RACIAL SEGREGATION THROUGHOUT GENTRIFYING AREAS IN NEW YORK CITY
Section 421a of the New York State Real Property Tax Law, created during New York City’s real estate nadir in 1971, offers developers of multifamily residential dwelling units various tax abatement options for building on vacant or undesirable land. In order to preserve affordable housing as the real estate market recovered, the 1985 State Legislature identified affordable housing criteria which developers must meet to qualify for the abatement. The team examined the consequences of the Section 421a program on racial segregation in Brooklyn and Queens from 2008 through 2019 by analyzing two particular provisions: Geographic Exclusionary Areas (GEA) and the Community Preference policy. The team used a spatial regression discontinuity design to understand the impact of the 2008 expansion of the GEA boundary and increases in community set-asides on racial segregation. The findings and policy implications detailed in the final report are particularly relevant for current policy makers, as the Section 421a program is up for legislative renewal in 2022.
DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION IN REENTRY WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) is a national nonprofit organization focused on the workforce reentry process of individuals returning home from prison. CEO operates in 28 cities and has achieved over 34,000 total placements into full-time employment. Serving a large number of participants from marginalized communities, CEO recently established a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) program. CEO enlisted a team to research supplier diversity and the impact of employer adoption of DEI principles on participants' sense of belonging in the workplace. The team conducted a literature review on workplace DEI and the reentry process, surveyed and interviewed staff and participants, and analyzed employer diversity metrics, participant satisfaction surveys, and public data on Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs). The team’s recommendations include the development of a DEI training program, guidelines to prevent discrimination and enhance support for participants, and a supplier diversity framework for the recruitment of MWBEs and employers that embrace DEI principles and best practices.
ABOLISHING ABUSIVE FINE AND FEE COLLECTION PRACTICES IN NEW YORK STATE
The Fines and Fees Justice Center (FFJC) advocates nationally for a fairer criminal justice system through the end of abusive fine and fee collection practices. FFJC engaged a team to conduct research and make data-driven recommendations to inform the organization’s campaign for fine and fee abolition in New York State. The team reviewed research connecting fines and fees, municipal budgets, and police incentives; gathered data on the connection between local fines, fees, and municipal budgets; and compiled several case studies to illustrate the ways in which jurisdictions rely on fines and fees to increase municipal budgets, particularly during economic downturns. The team created a scorecard to screen jurisdictions for abusive fine practices and empower FFJC to conduct further investigations. The team’s recommendations include how to best advocate for fine and fee abolition in New York State as part of FFJC’s upcoming campaign.
STRATEGIES FOR CANNABIS INDUSTRY INVESTMENT
The Office of the Mayor of Trenton enlisted a team to help the city take advantage of New Jersey’s legalization of recreational cannabis in November 2020. The city’s goal was to understand the cannabis industry’s impacts on a majority-minority city facing economic adversity, and to assess its current infrastructure, social challenges, and economic opportunities for attracting cannabis companies. The team interviewed key stakeholders and conducted extensive research on best practices implemented by municipalities across America in which cannabis has been legalized. The team compiled a final report with recommendations for taking advantage of Trenton’s “impact zone” status—prioritizing community buy-in for welcoming cannabis companies, creating regulations that support both large and small businesses, investing revenue back into the community, and uplifting those disproportionately impacted by the nation’s war on drugs.