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Cornell University Cornell Brooks Public Policy

Consulting Projects

The PADM 5900 Course, Consulting for Government and Nonprofit Organizations, offers students an introduction to the basics of public policy consulting work. MPA Program faculty members Dan Lamb (Fall semester) and Rebecca Morgenstern Brenner (Spring semester) work closely with clients to manage and build projects for their courses. Students gain experience working in teams to provide their government or nonprofit clients with a project deliverable.

Recent Team Projects: Fall 2018

Town of Dryden: Dryden, New York

An MPA Program consulting team worked on a wage and compensation study to establish an objective, equitable system for establishing and maintaining a valid, defensible employee compensation plan for 21 job titles. The plan was designed to: 1) establish the value of each position and its relationship to other positions, 2) identify and eliminate possible discriminatory factors that may have depressed the wages of female or minority dominated job titles; 3) evaluate the pay structure in relation to that of the external labor market, 4) recommend a pay structure. Additional partners in this project included the Institute for Compensation Studies within Cornell University’s School of Industrial Labor Relations, Engaged Cornell, and Newport Consulting Group, Inc.

Lifelong: Ithaca, New York

Lifelong provides popular services to seniors to enhance their quality of life and engagement in the community. With forecasted growth in the demand for its services, the organization sought a consistent, coherent strategy for increasing its profile, revenue, and membership. An MPA Program consulting team developed recommendations for a consistent and coherent marketing strategy to meet the organization’s changing needs and growth plans.

Factor of Hope: Marondera, Zimbabwe

Factor of Hope is a nonprofit organization that provides food, health and development programs to underprivileged rural communities affected by disasters in Zimbabwe. An MPA Program consulting team analyzed the Factor of Hope’s internal fundraising capacity, conducted research on potential external fundraising sources, drafted a grant application, and produced a report with specific fundraising recommendations.

Ithaca Health Alliance/Ithaca Free Clinic: Ithaca, New York

Ithaca Health Alliance (IHA) offers free basic health services for the uninsured and under-insured in Tompkins County. The MPA Program consulting team used cost/benefit analysis to better determine the short-term and projected long-term return on investment of Ithaca’s Free Clinic Services to both patients and the community. The team identified specific outcomes from clinic services, quantified these outcomes, and utilized this information to demonstrate the impact of the clinic’s services. This research will be used by the organization for programming, funding requests and grant applications.

Unadilla Valley Central School District (UVCSD): Unadilla Valley, NY

Rural school districts in New York and the Appalachian Region have faced social and economic challenges since the recession in 2008, including declines in school enrollment, and increases in school dropout rates, levels of poverty and poor employment conditions in the area. UVCSD has developed an innovative model to promote health habits, improve student outcomes at school, and track career paths of graduates. An MPA Program consulting team conducted in-depth interviews with stakeholders to understand the programs, interventions and initiatives, and developed a case study to identify and document best practices, as well as approaches and interventions that UVCSD has used. The case study will be used to disseminate information among stakeholders and other rural community school districts

Community Science Institute (CSI): Ithaca, NY

The Community Science Institute (CSI) partners with local groups to conduct monitoring of water quality in streams and lakes and disseminate data for improving water resource management to local authorities. An MPA consulting team assisted the organization by conducting research on organizations within the field, conducting field surveys and interviews. The team then presented recommendations to increase CSI’s name recognition in the larger community. The team’s work will help CSI develop better branding which can be used towards more effective outreach, education, and fundraising.

Recent Team Projects: Spring 2019

Western Shoshone Alumni Association: Alumni Governance

To assist the Western Shoshone Scholarship Foundation Alumni Association (WSSFAA) build a strong organizational foundation, the MPA Program team was tasked with helping develop the organization’s governance structure including initial planning documents including: purpose, policies, by-laws, and logo. The team was also asked to develop an impact evaluation to understand how being an alumnus of this organization impacts alumni and their communities. The MPA Program team conducted research into similar organizations to inform their research and worked closely with the WSSFAA Taskforce. They held focus groups with Western Shoshone stakeholder groups and worked closely with Barrick Native America Affairs team to understand context, desired outcomes, and cultural opportunities and challenges.

Environmental Defense Fund: Electrification vs. Natural Gas

The MPA Program consulting team assisted the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to develop a strategy for New York to overcome barriers to environmentally beneficial electrification posed by heavy reliance on natural gas and attendant infrastructure. This will help EDF in its mission to speed the transition to clean energy resources and facilitate cost-effective energy market designs. The team engaged in discussions with experts and practitioners for their research and drafted a whitepaper on the topic to be used in upcoming and future regulatory proceedings.

CA Wildfire: State Legislation

In response to the increasing prevalence of California wildfires and the impacts across the state, an MPA Program consulting team conducted interviews and focus groups to better understand legislative efforts to address wildfires and what can be done to address the imminent danger. The consulting team hosted focus groups with members of the California legislature and staffers to assess their decision-making in wildfire legislation and key in on motivating factors for passing legislation

Lake Placid/North Elba Development Commission: Arts Commission

To assist the Village of Lake Placid and Town of North Elba develop a Public Arts Commission, the MPA Program consulting team conducted research on comparison cities as a model. They looked specifically at how to develop an arts commission, the organizational structure needed, how to ensure quality of art without censorship, how to be inclusive of artistic genres and the best ways to market for broad participation. The team traveled to Lake Placid to envision the art walk and conduct their research.

CLEAN International: Marketing Campaign

CLEAN International works to remove barriers to access to safe sanitation and clean water and requested the assistance of an MPA Program team to develop a new international event called World Water Day to increase its global reach and impact. The MPA Program consulting team researched the environmental components and impact of providing communities clean water as well as steps being taken by NGOs and international bodies like the UN to determine the best practices being used to protect watersheds, recycle and conserve water. The team contributed to the success of World Water Day by marketing the event broadly, developing a business model for scaling the event globally, providing advice for connecting the global event to local contexts, and sharing best practices for increased impact, engagement and results.

Ministry of Environment, Peru: Redd+

To assist the Ministry of Environment for Peru, the MPA Program consulting team was tasked with looking at the feasibility of implementing the UN Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+) program in Peru. Students conducted research on several REDD+ projects in Peru and prepared a draft proposal for a desired governance to administrate and manage REDD+ programs in Peru and catalyze international financing to combat deforestation.

Women LEAD Nepal: Impact Evaluation

Women LEAD Nepal is a non-profit business that trains young women in Nepal with skills, support and opportunities to become leaders and change-makers in their communities and beyond. Last semester’s MPA Program consulting team assisted the organization by developing a baseline survey to evaluate the long-term impacts of the organization’s alumni leadership program. This semester, the MPA Program consulting team updated the survey, condensed the content and combined the survey with Women LEAD Nepal’s new internal engagement tracker. The team then created a data visualization to show the impact of their alumni program.

Jewish Family Services of Buffalo and Erie County: Refugee Disaster Management

One of the challenges within the large and diverse refugee community in Buffalo is that resettlement agencies do not have a comprehensive disaster management plan to share emergency response information due to language and literacy barriers. Previous MPA Program consulting teams conducted a review of best practices for disaster management plans and built a survey to assess how disaster emergencies are communicated in Buffalo. This semester, the consulting team made recommendations for conveying disaster information in Buffalo and more broadly, developed a system for any city to communicate emergency and disaster notifications for refugees. For their research, the team investigated and categorized cell phone applications (apps) that could be used to interface with newly arriving refugees with their own notifications and prerecorded messages in various languages. The team made suggestions and drafted an action plan for how the app could be used. The team also hosted a focus group with case workers to learn how refugees’ language needs could be met.