Capstone: 2017-2018

Measuring a Theater Organization’s Impact in Alternative High Schools

Client
Opening Act
Faculty
Erica Hamilton
Team
Joanna Bould, Arielle Conti, Karla Floris, Meirah Shedlo, Tracy Similien
Opening Act is a nonprofit organization that provides theater programs for students in New York City’s most underserved public schools with the goal of providing students with the confidence and skills to succeed in life and become leaders in their communities. Opening Act partnered with District 79 Alternative Schools and Programs to assist in achieving the district’s mission of ensuring that students whose studies were interrupted stay on track for high school graduation. Opening Act enlisted a Capstone team to provide recommendations on measuring, evaluating, and demonstrating the client organization’s impact working with District 79 students and meeting their unique needs. The team conducted stakeholder and peer organization interviews, a literature review, and site visits to decipher relevant means of measuring Opening Act’s impact. Utilizing the data, the team proposed a comprehensive evaluation process and set of tools to identify key metrics and measure impact.
Areas Of Impact
Capstone Year

Optimizing and Sustaining Discharge Lounge Processes

Client
NewYork-Presbyterian Queens
Faculty
John Donnellan
Team
Luis Jimenez, Christine Palazzo, Linnette Swann
New York-Presbyterian Queens (NYP Queens) is a community teaching hospital affiliated with Weill Cornell Medicine. NYP Queens opened a discharge lounge to accommodate discharged patients and expedite bed turnover and new patient admission. NYP Queens enlisted a Capstone team to determine whether the current discharge lounge can be enhanced to improve patient flow or if it should be discontinued. The team completed a literature review to examine national and international best practices and benchmarked high-efficiency discharge lounges in multiple organizations—including those at the Cleveland Clinic. Finally, the team performed focus groups and surveys with staff and stakeholders to obtain firsthand feedback on potential implementations and existing hindrances. The team delivered a final report detailing the causes of NYP Queens’ discharge inefficiencies and providing recommendations to enhance the discharge process, optimize discharge lounge usage, and improve patient experience and flow.
Areas Of Impact
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

Combating Gentrification and Financing Affordable Housing in Tanzania

Client
United Nations Capital Development Fund
Faculty
Paul Smoke
Team
Ying Huang, Shayan Malik, Meredith McNair
The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) is the UN’s capital investment agency, aimed at promoting investment in the public and private sectors through banks and local governments, to scale up innovative financing mechanisms for the world’s poorest people. UNCDF enlisted a Capstone team to conduct extensive research on gentrification and the lack of affordable housing in Mwanza, Tanzania. The team traveled to Mwanza where they collected quantitative data and interviewed several stakeholders, including representatives from the central and local governments, NGOs, and low-income residents. The team researched affordable housing finance models and anti-displacement strategies from around the world. The research culminated in a report that analyzed the problem of gentrification in Mwanza and the stakeholders involved, and recommended international affordable housing strategies that could be applied effectively in Mwanza.
Capstone Year

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

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

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

A New Planning Framework for Mexico City

Client
World Resources Institute Mexico and Mejor Ciudad
Faculty
Paul Smoke
Team
Jordan Cosby, Natalia Garcia, Mariano Mórán
WRI Mexico is a country arm of World Resources Institute (WRI), a global research organization that works closely with leaders to sustain natural resources and human well-being. In collaboration with Mejor Ciudad, a Mexican NGO, WRI Mexico engaged a Capstone team to develop an urban planning framework for the new planning agency that will guide planning in Mexico City under the country’s new Constitution. The team devised a set of core principles for establishing norms and criteria to promote autonomous, transparent, effective, integrated, and sustainable development planning. The team substantiated and contextualized the principles with the results from interviews they conducted with civil society actors, architects, private developers, academics, and government agencies. The team prepared a final report detailing principles for the new legislature to support the creation of new planning framework, tools, and knowledge products. WRI Mexico will present the finalized principles to the new legislature and share the findings with community-based organizations to broaden awareness and promote public participation in local government decision-making processes.
Capstone Year

Design of a Sustainable Project Management Process and Tracking System

Client
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
Faculty
John Donnellan
Team
Charmaine Barreto, Elizabeth Gianella, Barbara Janiszewska, Shawna Robilio, Mark Tagwalan
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) is one of the nation’s most comprehensive and integrated academic healthcare delivery systems. The Division of Nursing Education and Continuing Education is involved in multiple campus-specific and ero ss-campus projects. Nursing education leadership at NYP seeks to develop a sustainable project management process and tracking system for the division that will enhance productivity by facilitating more efficient planning and execution of initiatives. NYP enlisted a Capstone team to work closely with the NYP Director of Nursing Education and Continuing Education to redesign their project management process. The team conducted comparative analyses, interviews with key stakeholders, surveys at similar hospitals and organizations that manage multiple projects, and a literature review. Using their findings, the team crafted a sustainable project management process. The team also delivered a report that yielded recommendations on managing e-learning modules, an education tracker, curriculum alignments, orientation e-learning, and equipment training requests.
Areas Of Impact
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

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

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