MORE TO EXPLORE: Inequality, Race, and Poverty

The Role of Unpaid Care Work in the Socioeconomic Gender Gap

Client
Gender Gap Analysis
Faculty
Aram Hur
Team
Weikun Dang, Kyung-duk Park, Diana Rañola
Despite a surge in international policy efforts to empower women economically, the socioeconomic gender gap persists. While most studies debate the effectiveness of formal policies, a Capstone team explored an informal barrier: unpaid care work—the care of people without remuneration—which women on average spend substantially more time doing than men. The team hypothesized that the gender disparity in allocating care responsibilities undermines women’s economic status by decreasing the effectiveness of formal policies. The team combined a cross-national analysis of over 100 country observations with a within-country, individual-level analyses. Their research revealed that unpaid care work not only directly affects economic outcomes for women, but also indirectly impedes the formal policies that are in place to help women because unpaid care is often not addressed in these policies. Their findings suggest that narrowing the gender gap requires formal policies that consider the hidden cost of unpaid gendered work.
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

The Interplay Between Low-Income Housing and Air Pollution in Urban india

Client
World Bank
Faculty
Natasha Iskander
Team
Sasha Massey, Whitley Richards, Melissa Serrano, Jingyi Wu
The World Bank, an international financial institution, aims to end extreme poverty and foster income growth by providing financial assistance and support to various countries. The World Bank’s New Delhi office engaged a Capstone team to investigate the relationship between air pollution and affordable housing construction in India. Air pollution in India’s urban areas has reached emergency levels with thick fog reducing visibility and posing adverse health effects. The team focused on analyzing the construction methodologies used for low-income housing and the correlation between the construction of affordable housing and air pollution. The team evaluated existing research to uncover relevant stakeholders, standard affordable housing approaches, best practices from other countries, and steps that can minimize future air pollution caused by construction. The team provided World Bank with a report detailing an innovative and eco-friendly brick development methodology and policy recommendations to promote affordable housing approaches that will minimize carbon dioxide emissions.
Capstone Year

Expanding Off-Grid Solar Lights in Haiti

Client
Watts of Love
Faculty
Natasha Iskander
Team
Xingtong Cao, Shelley Hoy, Jiwon Kim, Itamar Wigoder
Watts of Love (WOL) is an international nonprofit that distributes mobile solar lights to people without access to grid electricity in low-income countries. WOL enlisted a Capstone team to conduct competitive market research and support strategic efforts in scaling the organization’s operations. The team traveled to Haiti with WOL’s founder and president, board members, and other volunteers. During the trip, the team observed firsthand the solar lights distribution process and gained supplementary training. Additionally, the team independently interviewed past solar light recipients to evaluate the durability and perceived impact of their lights. Based on the results of their fieldwork, market research, and interviews with experts, the team created a final report encapsulating the market research results and recommendations for WOL.
Capstone Year

Investigating the Implications of Establishing of a Community Land Trust

Client
We Stay/Nos Quedamos
Faculty
Alan Cohn
Team
Monica Flores, Joyce Li, Yixin Li, Karlo Ludwig, Stephan Petryczka
We Stay/Nos Quedamos (NQ), a New York-based nonprofit community development corporation, is committed to promoting healthy and sustainable growth. NQ is pursuing the establishment of a community land trust to address the lack of affordable housing in the South Bronx and create a more intentional and equitable community fabric in the area. NQ engaged a Capstone team to aid in the establishment of the land trust by assessing the formation’s logistical, legal, and societal implications. The team conducted a literature review of land trust formation legal and financial frameworks and completed a series of case studies from around the country. The team recommended which geographic clusters of vacant lots NQ should target for its initial affordable housing developments, how to form strategic external partnerships, and best practices in developing a governance structure for the prospective land trust.
Capstone Year

Developing a Model of Adaptive Reuse in Jackson, Mississippi

Client
Mississippi Center for Justice
Faculty
Alan Cohn
Team
Shengdi Chen, Joanna Farley, Xin Ge, Emily Riquelme
The Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ) is a nonprofit, public interest law firm that collaborates with communities to promote justice in the areas of housing, health, education, economic security, and disaster recovery. MCJ engaged a Capstone team in addressing issues surrounding "blighted" properties—vacant and abandoned properties that have a negative impact on the surrounding neighborhoods—in the Jackson and Mississippi Delta regions. The team conducted a literature review, case studies, and in-depth interviews with stakeholders to identify barriers and opportunities and establish a model that will mitigate the negative impact of blighted properties on communities, while simultaneously addressing the need in low- and middle-income housing areas. The team presented a set of strategies for overcoming barriers and maximizing opportunities for adaptive reuse and presented a final report containing recommendations for a structure and system that can guide MCJ’s efforts.
Capstone Year

Innovating Divestment and Shareholder Engagement investment Strategies for Social Change

Client
Transform Finance
Faculty
Scott Taitel
Team
Michael Cox, Stephanie Owens, Kyung Won (Nate) Park, Arshele Tyus
Transform Finance is an investment network for asset owners that connects investors to community-based organizations (CBOs). Transform Finance serves marginalized communities and advises investors and CBOs on how to maximize the impact of their investment and capital. Given the increasing relevance of its work to institutional investors, Transform Finance engaged a Capstone team in exploring new tools to advance social change through the public capital markets. The organization’s goal is to push beyond traditional divestment and shareholder engagement strategies within the constraints of prudent portfolio management. The team conducted comprehensive research and produced analysis about existing capital allocators and financial innovations, while examining innovative tools and strategies for the organization to consider. The team’s research material and analysis culminated in a set of final recommendations for capital allocators and financial innovations.
Capstone Year

Developing a Wage Negotiation Platform to Narrow the Gender and Race Wage Gap

Client
Tactical Mentor
Faculty
Scott Taitel
Team
Michael Вrocker, Harriet Flavel, Jeffrey Jiménez, Jasiel Martin-Odoom, Jasmin Matos
Women earn 54 to 87 cents for every dollar earned by their Caucasian male counterparts. Most of this wage gap is "explained" by characteristics such as experience, education, and occupation. However, over 20 percent of the wage gap is "unexplained" and represents the wage penalty. A significant contributing factor to this penalty is the tendency for women and people of color to refrain from salary negotiation, and a higher likelihood of penalization when they do negotiate. A Capstone team developed the hypothesis that if these populations negotiate more and better, the wage gap will narrow. The team completed a literature review, interviews, a design sprint, and a component design, followed by user testing and product design. They developed a product called Tactical Mentor, which offers finance professionals tools to evaluate their job offers, improve their negotiation skills, and receive better compensation packages. The team developed a business case that presents Tactical Mentor’s value proposition, competitive landscape, and business model.
Capstone Year

Investigating the Public Health Implications of Snap Funding Cuts

Client
Food Bank for New York City
Faculty
Meridith Seife
Team
Amy McDermott, Daniel Wagner, Hai Zhou, Mike Zhu
The Food Bank for New York City (Food Bank), a nonprofit social services organization and leader in food advocacy and policy, aims to end hunger by organizing food, information, and support for community survival, empowerment, and dignity. Food Bank commissioned a Capstone team to determine the public health impacts of potential funding cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The team focused their work on estimating the potential increase in rates of depression, diabetes, and hypertension associated with increased food insecurity due to funding cuts. The team completed a comprehensive literature review and meta-analysis of research related to food insecurity and the aforementioned public health measures. The team translated the results into tools and graphics that the client can readily share with SNAP stakeholders.
Capstone Year

Financial Modeling of the Cost of Poor Credit in Massachusetts

Client
United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley
Faculty
John Ceffalio
Team
Yujing Chen, Melissa Mayer, Haojun Qiu, Peter Relyea, Jingyi Wang
The United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley (United Way), a social services organization providing community programming, is launching a credit building initiative called Boston Builds Credit (BBC). BBC aims to help 25,000 residents achieve prime credit scores by 2025. In Boston, over 50 percent of the population has either low or no credit, subjecting them to higher interest rates and fees on important expenses. The United Way engaged a Capstone team to assess the costs of having low or no credit at the individual and the city levels. The team conducted financial modeling, interviews with experts, and extensive research, concluding that poor credit costs $200,000 more in fees over a lifetime. The team also measured the impact of BBC by calculating the savings generated when individuals improve their credit scores.
Capstone Year

Assessing the Feasibility of a Shared Services Platform for Education Centers

Client
Low Income Investment Fund
Faculty
Brian David
Team
Magdalena Concha, Yimeng Li, Xingyang Lu, William Weber, Jingyi Zhang
The Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) is a community-focused lending institution that invests capital in low-income people and communities. LIIF partners with programs offering affordable housing, childcare, education services, healthcare, and transit-oriented development to improve conditions and opportunity for people living in low-income areas. LIIF enlisted a Capstone team to assess the feasibility of launching a shared services platform (SSP) to support early childhood education centers in NYC. The team analyzed existing SSP models, interviewed experts, discussed services with potential clients, estimated demand, and developed an economic model. The team delivered a final report, including a business plan, budget, marketing strategy, and outreach plan, which will be used to implement the platform and optimize its impact.
Capstone Year