SOLVING ECONOMIC INEQUALITY THROUGH PERSONAL LOAN ACCESS

Client
LENTILS
Faculty
Andy Moss
Team
Osa Aihie, Divya Jethwani, and Derrick Spencer

Black and indigenous people of color in the US have less access to low-interest loans, pay high interest on government-backed loans, and pay an average of twice as much as their white counterparts in bank fees. The Lentils team has designed an initiative that employs long-term capital through public and private means to provide low-interest loans and free checking accounts. The team interviewed individuals and business owners to better understand loan barriers, and conducted a comparative analysis of loans by type, region, interest rate, and qualifications. It created a database to help increase seed funding for minority-owned businesses by 8 percent and decrease the average interest rate for personal borrowers in Central Brooklyn by at least 3 percent. The team’s long term goals are to reduce the interest divide by at least 50 percent and restore long-term wealth-building.

Capstone Year

ANALYZING THE IMPACT OF PAID FAMILY LEAVE ON PARENTAL HEALTH OUTCOMES IN CALIFORNIA

Client
PAID FAMILY LEAVE PARENTAL HEALTH OUTCOMES
Faculty
Ali Ahmed
Team
Sherry Chen, Inga Furuness, Erica Hobby, Shuo Jiang

Because the US is the only developed country that does not have a comprehensive Paid Family Leave (PFL) program, many states have considered establishing their own programs. California implemented a PFL policy in July 2004, and several other states are currently in the process of implementing PFL policies, making it likely that other states will participate in these programs in the future. The team, hypothesizing that PFL policies lead to improved parental health outcomes in the years following a child’s birth, analyzed California data to measure the causal impact of the PFL program on several parental health outcomes—including smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and psychological distress—while also exploring differences in outcomes by race. The findings provide additional evidence to support the impact of PFL policies and their implementation at the state and federal level.

Capstone Year

ABOLISHING ABUSIVE FINE AND FEE COLLECTION PRACTICES IN NEW YORK STATE

Client
FINES AND FEES JUSTICE CENTER
Faculty
Erin Connell
Team
Benjamin Heller, Daniel Patterson, Alec Slatky, Chao Zhang

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.

Capstone Year

RETHINKING COMMERCIAL REVITALIZATION STRATEGIES TO SUPPORT AN EQUITABLE RECOVERY OF SMALL BUSINESSES

Client
NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF SMALL BUSINESS SERVICES
Faculty
Elizabeth Larsen
Team
Maxwell Bernstein, Michael Kim, Cinthia De La Rosa, Samantha Vickers-Hymowitz, Yuanchen Zhao

The New York City Department of Small Business Services’ Neighborhood Development Division (NDD) pursues commercial revitalization projects across the city to support small businesses and commercial corridors and enhance community resilience. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, many small businesses were struggling to make ends meet in a rapidly changing economy; the pandemic exacerbated this struggle, particularly in low income neighborhoods and communities of color. NDD engaged a Capstone team to assess the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses in heavily impacted neighborhoods, and to make recommendations for redeveloping its toolkit of commercial revitalization strategies. Focusing its efforts on three neighborhoods (East Harlem in Manhattan, Brownsville in Brooklyn, and Southern Boulevard in the Bronx), the team worked with community-based partners to conduct interviews and distribute surveys among key stakeholders, researched policy levers deployed in other localities, and analyzed publicly available datasets to evaluate the neighborhoods’ critical needs. Based on these findings, the team made programmatic, tactical, structural, and legislative recommendations to support an equitable economic recovery.

Areas Of Impact
Capstone Year

ANALYZING RISK FACTORS FOR ADVERSE OUTCOMES TO COVID-19

Client
FAIR HEALTH
Faculty
Lloyd Torres
Team
John Gordon, Krisztina Mechtler, KeTaira Phillips

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.

Capstone Year

ANALYSIS OF PUBLIC OPINION FOLLOWING A TERRORIST ATTACK IN OHIO

Client
TERRORISM AND PUBLIC OPINION
Faculty
James Dunham
Team
Christina Maida, Tiffany Rose Miller, Aaron Pope

Though Islamic State-inspired terrorist attacks make up only a small subset of terrorist events in the United States, they loom large in the public consciousness and receive extensive media attention. The team used a natural experiment to investigate the impact of terrorist violence on public preferences for US military force and intervention abroad. Taking into consideration mediating factors such as partisanship and media consumption, the team analyzed data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, a national and state representative survey, which was being conducted at the time of the 2016 Jihadi-inspired terrorist attack at The Ohio State University. The team’s findings provide insight into the impact of the attack on public opinion in Ohio, and contribute to the broader research on the influence of personal experiences on public preferences.

Areas Of Impact
Capstone Year

COMMUNITY-LED INITIATIVE TO ADDRESS FOOD INSECURITY AND GUN VIOLENCE

Client
NEW YORK STATE SENATOR JAMES SANDERS JR.
Faculty
Erin Connell
Team
Coryn Grange, Chloe Moore, Lois Shah, Mindy Wong

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.

Capstone Year

LEVERAGING TAXI AND FOR-HIRE VEHICLE NETWORKS TO IMPROVE TRANSPORTATION EQUITY FOR SENIORS

Client
NEW YORK CITY TAXI AND LIMOUSINE COMMISSION
Faculty
Sarah Kaufman
Team
Celeste Alsina, Joshua Koh, Liz Jae Yun Park, Khan Shing

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) licenses and regulates taxis, for-hire vehicles (FHV), paratransit, and commuter vans in NYC. TLC engaged a team to explore how the taxi and FHV industry can equitably improve access to transportation for the city’s seniors and aging residents, who face a litany of well-documented barriers to meeting their transportation needs. The Capstone team conducted extensive research into how the city’s existing transportation infrastructure serves seniors and older residents, analyzed the demography and geography of NYC’s senior population, and identified gaps and barriers specific to older populations in the transportation network. Based on its research, the team created a set of programmatic recommendations to improve access and affordability alongside a set of outreach recommendations to improve senior access to taxis and FHV networks.

Capstone Year

DESIGNING A SUSTAINABLE PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT SYSTEM

Client
BROADWAY FOR ARTS EDUCATION
Faculty
Erica Foldy
Team
Kimberly De Jesus, Lara Fu, Lily Pfeifer, Bethany Rickwald

Broadway for Arts Education (BAE) is a nonprofit organization that provides arts education to underserved youth by engaging volunteers from the Broadway community. BAE strives to shape a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community for its students and volunteers. BAE enlisted a team to develop a method for assessing the impact of its Urban Assembly program in NYC, with the objective of creating and implementing a sustainable measurement system of student-oriented key performance indicators, including racial sensitivity, confidence, program enjoyment, and teacher effectiveness. This system will allow BAE to evaluate its impact and articulate its value to prospective donors and grantmaking institutions. The team undertook a literature review, case study analysis of similar organizations, and extensive interviews with students and staff. With this research, the team helped develop performance goals and pilot a pre- and post-survey system, which it linked to a live dashboard that visualizes key results in relation to BAE’s mission.

Capstone Year

UNIT COST ANALYSIS FOR COMMUNITY LIVING PROGRAMS

Client
INSTITUTE FOR COMMUNITY LIVING
Faculty
Brian David
Team
Heather Dumorne, Binal Patel, Sushant Thomas, Chloe Von Ancken

The Institute for Community Living (ICL) is a nonprofit human service agency that provides clinical, rehabilitation, housing, and other support services to assist individuals and families affected by or at risk of mental illness in New York City. ICL runs two programs, Assertive Community Treatment and Personalized Recovery Oriented Services, that offer integrated comprehensive care designed to improve well-being, recovery, and participation in community living. In anticipation of operating these programs with reduced funding due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and potential cuts to New York State Medicaid, ICL enlisted a team to analyze both fixed and variable program costs. The team conducted a unit cost analysis and determined break-even points. With this analysis, the team developed recommendations for promoting data driven management, increasing program sustainability, and improving quality of care to improve the financial performance of both ICL programs.

Areas Of Impact
Capstone Year

DEVELOPING BEST PRACTICES FOR TENANT ENGAGEMENT AND RIGHTS ADVOCACY

Client
IMPACCT BROOKLYN
Faculty
Elizabeth Angeles
Team
Jesslyn Katherine, Diana Kichler, Lee Sfadya, Adam Stein

IMPACCT Brooklyn, also known as the Pratt Area Community Council, is a community development corporation that owns over 1,000 units of affordable or supportive housing. Since 1964, IMPACCT Brooklyn has advocated for Central Brooklyn residents and entrepreneurs on issues including affordable housing, tenant rights, small businesses, and homeownership. In 2015, the organization contracted out its property management services, resulting in a degree of separation between IMPACCT Brooklyn and its tenants. A team was engaged to conduct external research—on the community district, housing legislation, local and state representatives, and the 2021 NYC Mayoral race—and stakeholder interviews—of staff members, business affiliates, tenant associations, and board members. The team designed a pilot survey for IMPACCT Brooklyn to use to assess its residents’ satisfaction with their housing, awareness of their tenant rights, and wellbeing during the pandemic. The team created a final report containing a toolkit of recommendations for strengthening the organization's tenant engagement and rights advocacy efforts.

Capstone Year

PROTECTING A SUCCESSFUL SOCIAL-ENVIRONMENTAL INITIATIVE IN GUATEMALA

Client
ASSOCIATION OF FOREST COMMUNITIES OF PETÉN
Faculty
Natasha Iskander
Team
Katherine Kelly, Loreta Lancellotti, Luisa Portugal, Maria Talania, Abe Silberstein

The Association of Forest Communities of Petén (ACOFOP) is an association of 19 community forestry organizations that have successfully managed natural resources in the Petén region of Guatemala since 1995. Despite the social, economic, and conservation gains that ACOFOP has achieved, a bill introduced to the US Congress in 2019 is threatening its forest concession model. ACOFOP enlisted a team to explore private interests behind the bill and help lobby against its passage. The team defined the scope of work, conducted research, and interviewed experts. The centerpiece of the team’s work was a detailed policy memo for US Congressional staff outlining how a well-managed forest in Guatemala serves American interests. In addition, the team produced resources for use in Guatemala—including a memo for the Guatemalan government, a press release, and a distribution strategy.

Areas Of Impact
Capstone Year