CIPA Domestic Capstone Projects

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The CIPA Capstone is a semester-long program designed for second-year Fellows. For each Capstone project, Fellows form consulting teams that propose relevant and actionable solutions to the problem at hand. The Capstone projects are multidisciplinary and experiential in nature, and Fellows have opportunities to learn from each other and from resources across the University, as well as from CIPA’s contacts in the field.

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    Ithaca Free Clinic: A Report on Recommendations for Provider Recruitment Strategies
    Gillott, Lauren; Guan, Bilu; Richards, Jacquelyn (2019-05)
    A CIPA Capstone team assisted the Ithaca Health Alliance (IHA) in developing recruitment strategies for medical practitioners locally to address the need for more free clinic services. Based on interviews and background research, the team drafted a survey to recruit providers in the area. Current volunteer providers and partners were helpful resources in the creation of the survey. The team also recommended current providers establish partnerships with medical student programs and residency programs at area hospitals, develop a printed recruitment package and recruit through current community connections. Lastly, the team created an information and communications package that can be adapted for use in discussing policy issues relevant to IHA with legislators and other stakeholders.
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    A Comparative Study of Pedestrian Fatalities and New Car Assessment Programs in the U.S. and Japan
    Su, Yulong (2019-05)
    In consultation with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), a CIPA Capstone student researched trends in pedestrian fatalities from 2008-2017 using the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Research reflected a significant increase in these fatalities and potential factors that may be connected to trends such as an increase in sports utility vehicles, lighting conditions, alcohol & drug use while driving and cell phone usage. The report includes a cross-country comparison of Japan and the United States, and examines factors that led to reversal of pedestrian fatalities trends in Japan. The report finds that Japan initiated a national campaign known as the “traffic war” which included policy changes and funding across several agencies, which may provide guidance to the U.S. policymakers. Additionally, the project outlined and analyzed the components and differences between the U.S. and Japan’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). The report finds that the U.S. does not include a pedestrian safety factor as does Japan in their overall score and made recommendations for incorporating this factor. Research also explored new technologies for pedestrian safety and made suggestions for incorporating these features into overall NCAP scores.
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    The Truth and Integrity in Government Finance Project – State of New York: The Truth and Integrity in Government Finance Project – State of New York
    Chen, Wen; Garcia, Paula; Li, Yuting; O'Brien, Clare (2017-05)
    Cornell Institute for Public Affairs is a partner in the Volcker Alliance’s project to examine transparency, accountability, and efficiency in state budgeting practices in all 50 states. This paper describes practices in New York State (NYS) for FY 2017, based on a comprehensive review of budget and other public documents and media sources. The report contains analysis of New York State’s general budgeting practices, one-time actions, rainy day and reserve funds, and overall disclosure practices. It also compares practices in New York State with practices in other states in the areas of transparency, accountability, and funding for education. This research will contribute to a national report to be published by the Volcker Alliance.
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    Paleontological Research Institute: Foundation Philanthropic Support
    Cortes, Mauricio; Sandberg, Benjamin (2017-05-26)
    This paper contains findings and recommendations to improve the financial sustainability for the Paleontological Research Institute’s national environmental education teacher training curriculum, as well as to expand the program’s reach. The paper contains analysis of potential partners and funders that demonstrates support for environmental education issues and professional development initiatives. The paper includes a detailed history for each potential partner/funder and analysis of suitability, and possible approaches. The authors recommend that PRI: 1) focus on the proposed project’s impact on a specific school district or community; and 2) develop relationships with teachers’ groups, school districts or counties to develop realistic implementation plans. The paper emphasizes the importance of strong alignment of funders with PRI’s goals and outlines clear next steps for utilizing the findings and developing funding partnerships.
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    Immigration Participation in the Workforce
    Aierken, Aikeda; Zhou, Jiaying; Poddar, Tripti (2017-05-20)
    The GAO is an independent, nonpartisan Congressional agency with a mission is to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and improving accountability of the federal government. The team explored the role of immigrant workers in the U.S. workforce. Firstly, workforce participation trends for citizens and non-citizens were compared across different industries; secondly, micro trends pertaining to likelihood of employment and specific characteristics between citizen and non-citizen workers were analyzed and reported. Research questions considered worker education level and English proficiency in numerous industries. Some of the characteristics investigated in relation to likelihood of employment included sex, age, education, English proficiency, number of years in the US and place of birth. The team’s findings which will serve to inform and support future research.
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    Federal Workforce: Attracting and Retaining Talent in the Field of Cybersecurity
    Bedding, Katherine; de Jongh, Marijke (2017-05)
    The GAO is an independent, nonpartisan Congressional agency with a mission is to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and improving accountability of the federal government. As part of a broader research effort to document challenges facing the federal workforce, this Capstone team examined how the Federal Government currently attracts and retains cybersecurity professionals. The consulting team explored several options to attract and retain cybersecurity workers including employment models used by both the public and private sector that address the cyber talent pipeline, the complex federal hiring process, and the need for comprehensive strategic cybersecurity workforce planning. An unbiased evaluation of the benefits, challenges and feasibility of each option was presented. Two case studies of government agencies, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Personnel Management, inform discussion on current practices and areas for growth.
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    CIPA Capstone Sp 17 Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Report
    Aguilar, Catherine; Worhach, Tom (2017-03)
    The mission of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) is to cure Cystic Fibrosis and to provide all people with the disease the opportunity to lead full, productive lives. The Capstone team assisted the Central NY chapter to reach its fundraising and promotional goals for spring 2017. Students planned outreach, recruited sponsorship teams, and expanded the organization’s exposure to both volunteers and the greater Ithaca community. The team’s work culminated in a walk for charity and awareness they organized and staffed. Additionally, the team provided a strategic volunteer management plan and fundraising plan which will help the organization in future years.
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    The Evaluation of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Exploration of Allocation in Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Mississippi and Wisconsin
    Miller, Michael; Li, Jixuan; Li, Zongrui; Zheng,Yuexi (2016-05)
    Our study was inspired by a 2009 lawsuit in Texas, where a nonprofit organization, the Inclusive Communities Project (ICP), sued the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs for disproportionally allocating tax credits in minority-concentrated neighborhoods, while disproportionally withholding tax credits from predominantly Caucasian neighborhoods. Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled that as long as the plan is not inherently racist then the plaintiff has the responsibility to develop an alternative plan that would ensure equality in impact. This ruling brings forth questions about the disparity in impact in other states besides Texas, and if there are specific features of state allocation plans that may be contributing to any observed disparity in impact along racial lines. In this context, we sought to examine and answer the following questions: 1. What are the trends in situating LIHTC properties in minority-concentrated neighborhoods? 2. What are the features of states’ plans that affect the disparity in impact in locating LIHTC units?
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    Data Visualization for Use in Website Design
    Schultz, Eric R.; Fiduccia, Peter C. (2016-05)
    Increasingly complicated data are being translated by organizations and individuals for consumption by the general public. As technologies have grown more advanced, visualizing data has become an increasingly popular means to convey complex data to decision-makers and the public. However, this work is assuming that the general public can accurately interpret these visualizations. Researchers have a responsibility to ensure their work, especially when translating complex ideas and relationships to the public, is interpreted correctly. To this end, the New York State Center for Rural Schools has sought assistance from us. We have attempted to ascertain the extent to which users of the NYSCRS website can accurately and quickly interpret the types of visualizations presented on the website. In an effort to better understand the effectiveness of these visualizations for website users, a survey was designed and implemented to better understand how users interpret school district-related data visualizations. Specifically, we sought to ascertain the differences in accuracy and latency when interpreting identical data visualized as scatterplots, bar graphs, line graphs, and in tabular formats. This was accomplished through asking survey respondents to correctly identify trends or relationships displayed in different data visualizations (tabular, line graph, bar chart, and scatterplot), multiple times. The amount of time taken to answer correctly was recorded, and then compared against the amount of time taken to correctly answer the same question using a different visualization. Once the survey data was collected, we used statistical techniques to analyze the results, specifically seeking to understand any existing relationships between the demographic identifiers of respondents and respondents’ ability to accurately and swiftly interpret data visualizations. Details concerning this analysis can be found in the following pages, and the surveys can be found in the Appendix of this paper. In summary, our results suggest that the NYSCRS website should focus on performance, financial, and demographic data. These were the types of data for which respondents expressed the most interest, and for which administrators indicated they use the most frequently. The website should also maximize the usage of the most effective forms of visualizations. Our results suggest the most effective forms of visualizations with respect to accuracy and latency are line graphs and tables of non-bivariate relationships. Scatterplots, if used, should be constructed thoughtfully and with clear, concise labeling in order to assist with users’ understanding of the data displayed. Finally, the ‘matrix’ visualizations currently displayed on the website should be reevaluated to determine whether the information displayed is too complex or redundant. This may assist users in more quickly and accurately garnering information from the visualization. Across all of these initiatives, design should pay attention to aesthetic. Our findings suggest that when users identify a visualization or tabular representation as aesthetically pleasing, they are, generally, more likely to answer those questions correctly. As outlined throughout this paper, our research was specific to the school district level data, and we recommend further research in ascertaining the effects of data visualization across and within visualization types.
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    Prioritization of Sustainability Projects at Cornell
    Anderson, Kimberly; Meixuan, Dan; Edwards, Kristen; Mora, Antony; Zhao, Yun (2016-05)
    Sustainability at Cornell University is a complex process with many interested parties and stakeholders. A number of projects are in the pipeline for implementation on campus, and Cornell University Energy and Sustainability (E&S), a department with the obligation and opportunity to provide reliable, cost-effective, sustainable energy and water to campus, to develop a financial model with which to evaluate the projects. By conducting primary and secondary research, observed systems and developed a method with which to evaluate projects, as well as developed a set of recommendations to help Cornell reach its 2035 Carbon Neutrality goal. After discussions with experts in infrastructure and environmental finance, and consultations with our client, E&S, the team decided to base our model on the Net Present Value Plus (NPV+) method that incorporates actual cash flows and value considerations, which are important to the University but may not have a direct cash flow, such as carbon emissions. Based on our research of sustainable infrastructure financing, cost/benefit models, and interviews with experts on sustainability, including members of the Senior Leaders Campus Action Group (SLCAG), we developed a set of recommendations that we believe will help Cornell reach its 2035 Carbon Neutrality goal. Our interviews with Cornell faculty and staff who are members of or were recommended by SLCAG were very illuminating regarding the attitudes and perceptions about sustainability among members of the Cornell community. Based on these interviews, we arrived at four major findings: 1) Sustainability is not the top consideration for many projects at Cornell; it is one of many factors considered, including function, aesthetics and design 2) A high level of bureaucracy exists within the University, with many decision-makers and influencers; this necessitates extensive buy-in for approval of projects 3) The best buy-in will occur from a multi-disciplinary assessment of proposed projects 4) Colleges control most budgets and spending, but have little incentive to spend on projects which reduce energy consumption because projects are currently evaluated using a method (payback period) in which not all relevant costs are considered To address these findings, we came up with five primary recommendations for Cornell E&S and the Cornell Administration: 1) Increase focus on the “quadruple bottom line” Continue to align academic purpose with sustainability to facilitate learning and empowerment. Submit proposals for sustainability-oriented projects through Engaged Cornell. 2) Create a roadmap to carbon neutrality by 2035 that is endorsed by the president of the University The NPV+ model we created can be used by E&S to evaluate projects and prioritize them on a roadmap so that budgets can be set and resources directed toward achieving carbon neutrality by 2035. Sustainable design can be further supported through the Development Office in soliciting donors favoring sustainability. 3) Align financial incentives to encourage sustainability projects in colleges across Cornell University Colleges need to reflect sustainability in their operational budgets, which the university can incentivize. 4) Increase financial training for administrators Understanding the time value of money is critical to making smart budget decisions, and using the NPV+ model we designed rather than the payback period method of evaluation currently used will enable administrators to account for gains and losses across numerous indicators over the lifespans of projects. 5) Enhance sustainability leadership from Senior Administrators, Trustees and Donors The University needs to create an expectation that units include long-term maintenance costs in annual budgets to reflect actual lifespans of materials and resource consumption. Sustainability needs to be reflected as a true priority of University leaders in order to be sufficiently factored into decision-making and budgets across Colleges and University units.