ADVANCING STRATEGIC EXPANSION EFFORTS TO EMPOWER LOW-INCOME WOMEN IN THE NORTHERN TRIANGLE

Client
PRO MUJER
Faculty
Mo Coffey
Team
Nicole Briedis, Emily Farley Chang, Hilarina Casie Chitty, Nora Frank, Queenie Tam

Pro Mujer is a nonprofit social enterprise that provides access to financial and digital inclusion, healthcare services, and entrepreneurship support to empower low-income women and promote gender equality in Latin America. As part of its commitment to the Partnership for Central America—an initiative launched by US Vice President Kamala Harris to address the root causes of irregular migration from the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador)—Pro Mujer is developing a series of financing vehicles and projects to expand into these three countries. The organization engaged the Capstone team to conduct initial scoping and market mapping to inform such expansion efforts. The team reviewed the literature on impact investing strategies; researched the social, economic, and political contexts of the Northern Triangle; and developed market intelligence on Pro Mujer’s programmatic offerings in each country. The team also identified potential partnership opportunities with donors, investors, and in-country organizations to facilitate Pro Mujer’s entry and strategic growth in the region.

Focus Areas
Capstone Year

EVALUATING THE EFFECT OF PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING ON REDISTRIBUTION OF PUBLIC FUNDS

Client
PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING IN NEW YORK CITY
Faculty
Ali Ahmed & Kristina Arakelyan
Team
Emily Brennan, Lesley Orellana, Victor Porcelli, Sophie Sharps

Participatory budgeting is a process in which community members decide how a portion of public funds should be spent. Participatory budgeting in New York City (PBNYC) began with four City Council districts in 2011 and has expanded to 31 of the 51 districts in 2019. One of the goals of PBNYC is to make public spending more equitable. Using publicly available data, the team conducted a difference-in-difference analysis to determine whether PBNYC results in a reallocation of capital project funds within districts and the extent to which these effects are moderated by neighborhood income level, gentrification, and political engagement. The team’s findings provide insight into whether PBNYC actually increases resources where most needed and are particularly relevant for policymakers and other stakeholders planning for PBNYC implementation citywide.

Capstone Year

STRENGTHENING PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY FOR DIVERSITY IN US GOVERNMENT

Client
INCLUSIVE AMERICA
Faculty
Erin Connell
Team
Varun Banthia, Rachel Fischer, Anna Quinn

Inclusive America (IA) is a nonprofit organization committed to making the government as diverse as the people of the United States. It advances its mission by tracking the demographic information of all political appointments, informing government hiring managers, developing diverse candidate rosters, and supporting policies that increase public sector diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA). IA engaged a Capstone team to evaluate accountability mechanisms that encourage DEIA within US executive agencies and make recommendations to strengthen their impact, focusing particularly on the Government Accountability Office. The team conducted a literature review and interviewed various academics, audit practitioners, and government officials. Based on its research, the team devised recommendations that include updating criteria for DEIA reviews, prioritizing an intersectional approach, and elevating performance management for inclusion and equity. The team’s final report outlines an evidence-based strategy that civil society organizations like IA can use to advocate for implementation of the proposed improvements.

Capstone Year

TRANSIT-ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT INDEX

Client
SUFFOLK COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND PLANNING
Faculty
Michael Keane
Team
Capstone Team: Jane Bartman, Seth Kerr, Sarah Saltz, Arvind Sindhwani

The office of Downtown Revitalization and Transit-Oriented Development at the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning (SCEDP) promotes the development, growth, and retention of industry clusters that facilitate job opportunities, private capital investment, and tourism. To support the County’s efforts to retain and attract highly-skilled workers and young professionals, SCEDP works with municipalities to run technical and financing programs to promote transit-oriented development (TOD) around Long Island Railroad stations. The Capstone team worked with SCEDP to develop a plan for a Suffolk County TOD Index, an analytical tool to assess the location-based potential for TOD development and compare TOD suitability across locations. To develop the index, the team identified the key drivers of TOD success in Suffolk County by analyzing large amounts of public data and existing TODs through site visits, desktop research, and stakeholder interviews. Based on index-indicated TOD readiness, the team conducted several site-level analyses and provided high-level recommendations for future TODs.

Capstone Year

ADDRESSING FOOD WASTE AT LOCAL FARMERS MARKETS

Client
VEGGIE FRUITFUL
Faculty
Andy Moss
Team
Shirley Dang, Darren Jones, Hasan Khan

The goal of Veggie Fruitful is to minimize the amount of leafy greens and tomatoes that farmers harvest and take to local markets but cannot sell due to their short life span. To understand the market, the Capstone team identified farmers in New York who employ organic practices and conducted a series of interviews with customers as well as executives at GrowNYC, a sustainability organization. Finding that leafy greens and tomatoes are sensitive to weather fluctuation, the team recommended an affordable, lightweight storage device that takes up unused space under the market table and does not require energy. This device can be designed to regulate produce temperature to prolong produce life span at both farm and market stages, especially during extreme heat and harsh winters. The team’s solution can help local, organic farmers grow more crops, yield more sales, and reduce food waste.

Capstone Year

STRATEGIES TO INCREASE UTILIZATION OF THE POLICE DEPARTMENT’S ONLINE REPORTING SYSTEM

Client
OFFICE OF THE MAYOR OF PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND
Faculty
Alexander Shermansong
Team
Liza Bayless, Asher Jacobs, Harita Vyas

The Office of the Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island includes a Research and Development team that provides research, analysis, and recommendations to support and implement policies and program initiatives across city departments. The Office of the Mayor engaged a Capstone team to develop a strategic plan to increase resident utilization of Providence Police Department’s online system for non-emergency calls for service. The team conducted a literature review, stakeholder interviews and focus groups, and a survey of Providence residents to determine best practices and key features of online reporting systems. Having identified perceived barriers to online reporting, the team developed persuasive messaging about the reporting system to encourage its utilization. The team’s final report includes recommendations to improve the accessibility of the online system and guidance on public education and outreach strategies to support increased use of the system.

Focus Areas
Capstone Year

ANALYZING THE COSTS AND BENEFITS OF AN URBAN REFORESTATION PROJECT

Client
C40 CITIES CLIMATE LEADERSHIP GROUP
Faculty
Paul Smoke
Team
Jenny Chen, Elizabeth Ogunsanya, Jason Ramel

C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group is a global network of 97 mayors representing member cities that are engaged in low-carbon pathway development in order to confront the climate crisis. The member city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, has initiated the #FreetownTheTreeTown campaign to enhance climate resilience by reforesting parts of its territory with one million trees. Freetown City Council sought to understand the project's sustainability and identify areas for improvement. A Capstone team was tasked with conducting a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) to assess the potential financial, social, economic, and environmental impacts of the campaign. The team reviewed urban reforestation case studies, methodologies for quantifying non-monetary benefits, and carbon trading mechanisms. They also conducted workshops with the client to understand project scope and stakeholder engagements and analyzed program data. The team’s final deliverables consisted of a CBA model, a memorandum detailing outcomes and recommendations, and a presentation to C40 Cities and the campaign project team.

Capstone Year

UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACT OF ACCESS TO SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES ON STUDENT OUTCOMES

Client
SPECIAL EDUCATION BIAS
Faculty
Ali Ahmed & Kristina Arakelyan
Team
Shirisha Adhikarla, Ramelle Brown, Jasmine Jeffers, Yuzhen Wang

Students with special needs have historically been overlooked in the American public school system and only in the last 50 years has the federal government provided explicit protections for these students. Existing literature shows evidence of ongoing and significant differences in referrals to special education services based on race and gender. The Capstone team sought to understand whether, and to what extent, disparities in special education access contribute to disparities in educational outcomes for marginalized groups. The team analyzed data from the 2011 Early Childhood Longitudinal Study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and developed a final report outlining its findings to help inform special education support and services.

Capstone Year

ANALYZING THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 IN NYC JAILS

Client
NEW YORK CITY BOARD OF CORRECTION
Faculty
Rona Affoumado
Team
Reyna Bhandari, Julia Busto, Chandrasasi Darjatmoko, Nivedita Ramajayam, Jenna Werkman

The NYC Board of Correction (BOC) is a nine-person, non-judicial oversight board that regulates, monitors, and inspects NYC correctional facilities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the BOC modified its oversight model to document the public health crisis in jails. Priorities included monitoring the system’s evolving response, facility adherence to agency plans, and general operations and compliance with BOC Minimum Standards. With over a year’s worth of data, the BOC engaged a Capstone team to create a comprehensive report on the impact of COVID-19 in jails. The team analyzed the data, conducted a literature review, and coded interviews held with incarcerated people. Based on its findings, the team compiled a final report that outlines areas for improvement and tangible recommendations to address existing gaps in the system.

Capstone Year

STRATEGIES FOR IMPROVING AIRPORT CONCESSION SUSTAINABILITY

Client
PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY
Faculty
Erin Connell
Team
Abdurrahman Ajeigbe, Bryant Payne, Julie Takakjian

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is the authoritative body overseeing airports in the New York metropolitan area: JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark International Airport. To aid in the Port Authority’s goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, its Aviation Department retained the Capstone team to provide analysis and recommendations for enhancing the sustainability of airport concessions and vendors. The team compared the practices of peer airports to those of the Port Authority; provided insight on existing and upcoming sustainable legislation; explored relevant sustainability certifications and accreditations; and proposed a pilot program to be implemented at airport terminals. Using a combination of research, stakeholder interviews and surveys, and key document analysis, the team determined areas of improvement for the Port Authority’s overall sustainability practices. The team’s recommendations include enhancing airport bin practices, creating composting and recycling policies by engaging with concessionaires, and establishing local partnerships to donate leftover food.

Capstone Year

IMPROVING ACCESS IN LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS FOR STUDENTS WITH VISUAL DISABILITIES

Client
EK KADAM AUR (ONE STEP AHEAD) FOUNDATION
Faculty
Victoria Donohue
Team
Kayla Savage, Maggie Soko, Tatiana Walker

Ek Kadam Aur, Hindi for “One Step Ahead”, is a nonprofit organization that provides education and skill-building resources to disadvantaged children in India and Nepal. Their High School Leadership Program (HSLP) offers world-class education to high school students in India. Ek Kadam Aur enlisted a Capstone team to aid in the development of their Technology for the Visually Challenged Program. Since the existing curriculum has not been adapted to meet the needs of students with visual impairments, the team was tasked with evaluating its accessibility and effectiveness. The team conducted a gap analysis to identify limitations of the current program structure and developed specific recommendations to improve accessibility and the inclusion of visually challenged students.

Capstone Year

DEVELOPING A ROADMAP FOR PROGRAM EXPANSION

Client
THE ARTHUR PROJECT
Faculty
Sonia Balaram
Team
Valentine Goldstein, Mary Kate Latta, Genesis Nuñez, Katherine Sam

The Arthur Project (TAP) is a small nonprofit based in the Bronx that provides therapeutic mentoring services for underserved and vulnerable middle school youth and their families. Seeking to expand its impact, TAP engaged a Capstone team to develop a roadmap for program growth. The team assisted the client in assessing its operational readiness for growth, researching industry best practices, and identifying various models for nonprofit expansion. The team produced a literature review, environmental scan, and recommendations to inform TAP’s expansion. The recommendations include a set of prerequisites that best equip an organization for expansion, a suggested growth structure, and a screening tool to evaluate potential expansion sites.

Capstone Year