MORE TO EXPLORE: Social Justice and Democracy

Student Spotlight: Kartika Fuentes (MPA 2023)

As a Bohnett Fellow and member of Wagner's First-Generation Student Association, Kartika is using her knowledge of public service to enhance student connectivity as well as immigrant communities. 

DEVELOPING A BUSINESS PLAN FOR A MUSEUM CAFÉ PARTNERSHIP

Client
QUEENS COMMUNITY HOUSE
Faculty
John Ceffalio
Team
Dave Bernstein, Kewei Cheng, Bhisham Persaud

Queens Community House (QCH) is a multi-service settlement house with the mission of providing individuals and families with tools to enrich their lives and build healthy and inclusive communities. QCH’s Young Adult Food-Sector Employment Initiative (YAFSEI) is a workforce development program that targets at-risk young adults in Queens and prepares them for job opportunities in the food sector. QCH engaged a Capstone team to develop a business plan for a café in partnership with the Queens Museum that would allow YAFSEI trainees to receive instruction and gain real-life experience in the food industry. The team researched and evaluated various business models and crafted a comprehensive and effective business plan based on programmatic and socioeconomic data to guide the museum café’s operations.

Capstone Year

EVALUATING LEGISLATIVE AND POLICY SUCCESSES OF ELECTED OFFICIALS

Client
NEW AMERICAN LEADERS
Faculty
Matthew Camp
Team
Kathleen Elliott, Jacob Fertig, Hunter Meachum, Kobe Terrier

New American Leaders (NAL) leads a movement for inclusive democracy by equipping immigrants, refugees, and their allies with the tools needed to run for office, engaging in civic action that brings their voices to the forefront of American politics, and supporting successful candidates post-election in their preparation for holding public office. NAL enlisted a Capstone team to evaluate the legislative and policy successes of elected officials within the organization’s network. The team formulated and deployed a survey to capture data on legislative and policy successes—both explicit and implicit—and utilized its survey responses and independent policy research to produce a report on the measurable successes of elected officials across the key states of Arizona, California, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and New York. The team’s report includes a comprehensive analysis of its survey and research findings, paired with recommendations for future surveying efforts.

Capstone Year

DEVELOPING THE STRATEGIC DIRECTION FOR A UK-BASED FISCAL HOST FOLLOWING BREXIT

Client
GLOBAL DIALOGUE
Faculty
Paul Smoke
Team
Yuliya Antipova, Honor Donnie, Madeline Flaherty

Global Dialogue is an independent, international platform for philanthropic partnership, enabling funders to work together to advance human rights and social change within countries in the European Union (EU). Fiscal host organizations offer incubation and operational support for grants and small funders. Global Dialogue engaged a Capstone team to help determine its strategic direction as a UK-based fiscal host following Brexit. The team was tasked with evaluating the potential costs and benefits of partnering with an EU entity, establishing its own operation in an EU jurisdiction, or maintaining its current status. Using information obtained from desktop research and stakeholder interviews, the team prepared a final report outlining strategic options for Global Dialogue in the context of broader trends within the philanthropy and fiscal host sector.

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

ADOPTING A PARTICIPATORY APPROACH FOR SETTING ADVOCACY PRIORITIES

Client
DAY ONE
Faculty
Elizabeth Angeles
Team
Bianca Almedina, Rebecca D'Amico, Emily Moffa, Ivy Nuñez

Day One is a nonprofit organization that partners with youth to end dating abuse and intimate partner violence (IPV) through an empowerment model of community education, supportive services, legal advocacy, and leadership development. Day One’s clients are impacted by various issues beyond IPV, including the school-to-prison pipeline, lack of reproductive care, and housing insecurity. However, Day One has limited capacity to engage in advocacy efforts related to these areas. The client enlisted the team to identify best practices for setting policy and advocacy priorities and deepening staff and youth involvement in these processes. The team conducted legislative research, identified potential allies in elected office, surveyed staff and youth clients, and conducted employee focus groups. Based on its research findings, the team developed a final report recommending policy priorities, internal and external advocacy strategies, and best practices for engaging staff and youth.

Capstone Year

ASSESSING AN ORGANIZATION’S ROLE IN MOVEMENT-BUILDING

Client
TAKEROOT JUSTICE
Faculty
Elizabeth Angeles
Team
Eliza McCurdy, Antara Nader, Aaron Posner

TakeRoot Justice (TRJ) leverages legal and policy expertise to help community-driven movements dismantle systems of racial, economic, and social oppression. TRJ engaged a Capstone team to evaluate its role in community campaign advancement and ensure that its legal representation of individuals feeds into an organizing strategy for systemic change. The team conducted a literature review on movement lawyering and administered a survey to twelve of TRJ’s partner organizations. They also carried out focus groups across four key TRJ practice areas: consumer justice, housing rights, immigrants’ rights, and workers’ rights. Drawing on its findings, the team produced a report with guiding documents to increase internal capacity for organizing and a toolkit to facilitate stronger partner relationships.

Capstone Year

INVESTIGATING URBAN FINANCE AND THE FORM OF THE CITY IN INDONESIA

Client
UNITED NATIONS CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT FUND
Faculty
Paul Smoke
Team
Rochelle Brahalla, Taylor Disco, Costanza Tremante

The United Nations Capital Development Fund’s (UNCDF) Local Development Finance team is committed to facilitating effective urban infrastructure financing solutions in the world’s least developed countries (LDCs). As LDCs experience rapid urbanization, municipalities face mounting pressures to deliver a variety of public services. As urban inequality increases, LDCs also encounter additional challenges to providing basic infrastructure to marginalized communities living in informal settlements and slums. UNCDF enlisted a Capstone team to create strategies to improve and democratize access to basic services through urban form. The team conducted research on proven practices for creating livable cities that prioritize human connection and mobility, and for urban development that promotes health, prosperity, and sustainability. The team also investigated existing financing mechanisms that prevent municipalities from realizing the ideal urban form and proposed alternative solutions for community development finance. The team’s findings inform new efforts by UNCDF to create localized and specialized urban development funds.

Capstone Year