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Students in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs complete their degree requirements by participating in a group capstone project in conjunction with and in service to a public or nonprofit sector partner.    

Experiential Learning and Immersion in the Community

The projects are research-based and client-oriented analyses, which, in the end, are applied by the client to the issue at hand. Areas of focus range broadly, encompassing issues of urban and regional policy (e.g., transit oriented development, housing, and sustainability), social policy (e.g., workforce development, community services, urban education, health), and public and nonprofit sector management (e.g., strategic planning, budgeting, program evaluation).

Students work in teams of three to five people over the course of 15 weeks, supervised by faculty in the School, and conclude with presentations to clients, faculty, and fellow students. Project teams are comprised of students in masters programs in Urban and Regional Policy, Public Policy, Public Administration, and Urban Informatics who will have had core training in policy analysis, research methods, statistics, and, to varying degrees, more specialized skills (e.g., cost/benefit analysis, program evaluation, data visualization, survey research, GIS).

Spring 2022

Client: 3 Neighborhoods 1 Community (3N1C)

Students: Donald Alexis, Jasmine Barnwell, Leah Grannum, and Becca Piltch

The predominantly African-American neighborhoods of Jackson Hill, McLaughlin, and Angell have experienced a legacy of disinvestment. Now the City of Muskegon, MI is proposing a rezoning plan that would likely displace long-time residents and businesses. The neighborhoods are seeking support that would let them negotiate with the city from a position of strength. For this project, students provided anti-displacement strategies/data in other cities, a community survey for residents to gauge policy preferences, studies of how other communities have used form-based zoning to provide community benefits, and more.

Client: Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT)

Students: Dianna Bronchuk, Wesley Lickus, and Cal Samara

ACT is a professional organization for transportation professionals with > 1,300 members in the public and private sectors. ACT is interested in understanding the post-pandemic transportation and commuter trends in greater Boston to inform planning and policymaking. For this project, students researched post-pandemic commuter patterns, conducted interviews of key stakeholders to capture insights into future trends, and provided policy recommendations to ACT members.

Client: Boston City Councilor Tania Anderson (District 7)

Students: Michelle Arias, Nicole Catubig, Alfonso Cervera, John Hunter, and Jenny Sichel

Newly-elected Boston City Councilor Tania Anderson wants to engage her constituents and meet her responsibilities with a functional website. The website’s goals include:

  • Supporting an understanding of local government’s roles and responsibilities;
  • Strengthening constituent services;
  • Streamlining staff response times to ordinance and complaints;
  • Increasing voter registration and access; and
  • Providing accountability.

Client: Commonwealth Corporation

Students: Troi Bachmann, Aditi Dholakia, Amira Gertz, and Norah Xiong

The Commonwealth Corporation is seeking to assess the perceived/realized impact of Signal Success, a curriculum designed to help young adults develop essential skills for the workforce. While over 34,000 young adults have used Signal Success in partnership with more than 72 organizations, work is needed to thoroughly understand its impact on the participants. For this project, students evaluated Signal Success to understand its successes and gaps in addressing underlying needs of youth adults.

Client: Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Lowell

Students: Pratik Dubey, Ruby Ramos Basaldua, Julia Jaime Rodriguez, Shi Zhang

DIY Lowell is a grassroots group operating since 2015 dedicated to helping community members make small-scale projects and events happen together. They use principles of tactical urbanism and design thinking to help both young people and adults who are not normally engaged in civic life to brainstorm and implement small projects and claim their “right to the city.” The small projects build confidence and skills and serve as a proof-of-concept to snowball into bigger changes. Additional goals are to build social capital and civic skills in our participants for future projects and connect diverse communities who might normally not meet. For this project, students evaluated the program and provided recommendations.

Client: Emerald Necklace Conservancy

Students: Megan Adams, Chris Carmody, Kat Dobrov, Jude Hernandez, and Melanie Mathewson

The Emerald Necklace Conservancy is a private non-profit stewardship organization founded in 1998 to maintain, restore, and protect the 1,100 acres of parks of the Emerald Necklace designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. For decades, Franklin Park has been a key open space for neighboring communities, providing a gathering space for events, as well as a welcome respite from city life. Over time, Franklin Park land use has changed with the addition of other uses, leading to today’s challenges and opportunities. For this project, students researched multiple topics to inform current and future planning.

Client: The Fenway Alliance

Students: David Cruz Mejía, Liam Monahan, Anne Nielsen, and Jeanel Odney

Established in 1977, the Fenway Alliance (FA) is a Boston-based nonprofit organization serving 21 institutional members in the Fenway. Due to their small size and limited financial resources, the Fenway Alliance has not been able to conduct many evaluations of the impact of their work or even collect rudimentary data. For this project, students developed a database for collecting/organizing data on FA projects/activities and conducted at least one data collection/program evaluation.

Client: Institute for History and Healing

Students: Nicole Howard, Anna Ibru, Catrina Schick, and Sarah Sharpe

Central to the Institute for History and Healing’s mission is PLACE and the attendant need for PLACEKEEPING in the physical assets of cities and towns nationwide. For this project, students drafted a “People’s Guide to Preserving ‘Undervalued’ Sites of Historical Significance” for online distribution. This toolkit identified and addressed unique challenges to preserving sites of cultural and historical memory ‘devalued’ and ‘undervalued’ by systemic racism; and endangered by cultural contestation.

Client: Just-in-Time Initiative

Students: Noa Dalzell, Sheila Encarnación, Hannah Pease, and Nubia Wilson

The Just-inTime Initiative is an educational, healing, and legacy project dedicated to families who lost loved ones to murder. This group is formed in commemoration of Justin D.C. Cosby (21) and Kenneth K. Rackley (19) who both lost their life to gun violence. In a short time, the Initiative has reached families across the U.S., demonstrating the need for easily accessible (online) support for families. Research is needed to support organizational growth and outreach. For this project, students developed a grant-writing/fundraising strategy, provided guidance on 501c3 application process, and researched/mapped communities of high impact for outreach.

Client: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Students: Emma DeGrandi, Sydney Peterson, and Charlotte Whittle

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy wants to know if banning single family zoning is a worthwhile and impactful policy lever to mitigate inequalities in cities. As detailed in a recent article in the Lincoln Institute’s Land Lines magazine, Minneapolis has recently done just this, arguing that this step will lead to densification in ways that will broaden access to housing for low-income people. For this project, students developed a case study of the Minneapolis initiative to understand whether a similar approach might be applied in Massachusetts cities. 

Client: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Students: Emma DeGrandi, Sydney Peterson, and Charlotte Whittle

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy is currently working with three localities in California to create a template for a StoryMap that shows their history of structural racism in land policies. The StoryMap model is a way to educate people on why a city is experiencing the issues of spatial inequality and segregation that it is today, to create possibilities for open discussion around how to break down structural racism. For this project, students created a StoryMap for the Boston metropolitan region. Drawing on the StoryMap template being developed by the Lincoln Institute, students engaged in documentary and GIS analysis to examine how the legacies of histories of urban planning, redlining, highway building, and other dynamics continue to impact Boston neighborhoods. 

Client: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Students: Evangeline Hobbs, Nicole Horvath, Jake Little, Faisal Al Khalifa, and Emily Mutkoski

The Biden administration has announced a ‘30×30’ initiative to conserve on at least 30 percent of America’s land and 30 percent of its ocean areas by 2030. But what land and water should be targeted for protection? The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy’s Center for Geospatial Solutions has mapped the nation using several different data sets in order to help localities figure out what land they should protect. For this project, students refined its methodology for prioritizing areas for conservation and informed its thinking on how to implement a land conservation agenda.

Client: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services

Students: Noor Ali Hassan, Nicholas Fuller, Brandon Goldman, Jazmine Torres, and Dejah Williams

Free legal services for low-income and underrepresented people are essential to ensuring equitable access to our legal systems. Pro bono legal services address a broad range of legal issues including housing, family law, consumer rights, and criminal law. For this project, students helped design, implement, and analyze surveys that will help the Committee understand the impact of pro bono legal services in Massachusetts. This analysis will help the Committee create a pragmatic and effective plan to promote the delivery of pro bono legal services for the future.

Client: Mattapan Mapping Project (coordinated by the Powerful Pathways + Greater Mattapan Neighborhood Council)

Students: Jaleesa Carter, Lorena Escolero, Liam Kearney, Dawn Quirk, and Nic Tompkins-Hughes

The Mattapan Mapping Project is a spatial data and community knowledge sharing platform designed to enable collective advocacy and participatory planning by Mattapan community members to prevent displacement pressures emanating from transit investments and urban redevelopment after decades of disinvestment. For this project, students provided technical assistance to explore ways to preserve and upgrade triple-decker housing as part of anti-displacement strategies.

Client: NEU and ERAU COVID-19 Research Team 

Students: Bryan Grady, Abby Hegarty, Cameryn Martin, Melinda Medina, and Clara Moreno

The NEU and ERAU COVID-19 Research Team has been engaged with a multi-panel study of how social networks and information sources have influenced safe and healthy behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June of 2020, they have collected more than 1200 surveys and conducted 120+ one-on-one interviews on Zoom across two panels in their multi-panel study. For this project, students assisted with hypothesis testing, coding, and qualitative and quantitative data analysis of the data they have collected to-date. Students also assisted with conducting one-on-one interviews for their third panel study in January and February. After conducting interviews, students engaged in an initial analysis of the themes and trends that emerged from the third panel of interviews.

Previous Projects

Fall 2021

Client: King Boston

Students: Haley D’Amico, Claudia Capria, and Samantha Canica

Racial disparities in COVID outcomes, the murder of George Floyd, and other events ushered in yet another period of intense racial reckoning in the United States. National organizations and local groups and coalitions are advancing their push for reparations for Black Americans to atone for the government-sanctioned institution of slavery, Jim Crow, and ongoing discrimination. For this project, students worked with Dr. April Khadijah Inniss (King Boston’s Director of Community Engaged Research) to assist in the research, literature review, and writing of a report to document the harms that have occurred at the city and state levels in Boston and Massachusetts.

View their poster here.

Client: Boston Tax Help Coalition, Mayor’s Office of Financial Empowerment, City of Boston

Students: Kevin Kolesnikoff, Christine Yu, and Ivana Sara

The Boston Tax Help Coalition (BTHC) is part of the Mayor’s Office of Financial Empowerment, which was created to address racial wealth disparities in Boston. For this project, students worked with BTHC to evaluate the city’s process and program implementation of their efforts to help clients access the advance tax credit payments and other federal stimulus payments. 

View their poster here.

Client: Conservation Law Foundation

Students: Eli Seitz, Nina Waskiewicz, and Rachel Savas

Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), a regional environmental non-profit based in Boston, works to advocate for policies that support urban farms, including improved access to land. For this project, students worked with CFL to identify regional barriers and opportunities for urban agriculture. In addition, students helped conduct a regional policy scan that compares the policy landscape related to urban agriculture in a set of small New England cities, focusing on historically marginalized communities. This analysis uncovered what policies are and are not working in our communities, and what the gaps are between the city ordinances on the books and the lived experiences of urban farmers and gardeners.

View their poster here.

Client: Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation (CDC)

Students: Brian O’Connor, Daniel Hennessey, and Lidong Luo

For this project, students compared data collected through the Allston Brighton CDC’s Community Action Department about development projects that have either gone through the Boston Planning and Development Agency or are in the process of going through the Article 80 or Small Project Review Process during the last 5-7 years and compared those results with an analysis of what could have been built at the sites “as-of-right” using the dimensional requirements listed in the City of Boston Zoning Code. The data comparison helped project the difference between the potential land sale of a property with the consideration of what is allowed under the current zoning conditions in place and the actual sale price of the property that was either developed or is being considered under the Article 80 or Small Project Review Process.

View their poster here.

Client: Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston

Students: Zach Ryan, Lyubov Kodreanu, and Inanna Pickering

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization that is the 10th largest housing producer in the U.S. Habitat-Boston uses a “partnership model” of housing construction to build affordable housing for working families earning 50-80% of area median income. The cost of housing construction is covered through volunteer labor (70%) and fundraising (30%).

A significant part of construction cost is the acquisition of land. One successful strategy to reduce costs has been working directly with local governments to develop housing on publicly owned land. For this project, students developed an inventory of publicly owned land in target communities. This helped identify potential sites for new affordable housing construction in communities with a low affordable housing stock, especially in cities/towns with <10% affordable housing as required by MA Chapter 40B.

View their poster here.

Client: Aldrich Resilience Lab

Students: Erin Thomas, Joel Zayas, Napuck Cherdchaiyapong, and Winta Tekle

Scholars and policymakers increasingly recognize the value of social capital, the social ties that enable trust among residents, in responding to and recovering from disaster. However, some communities have more sites that produce that social capital than others. These sites are known as “social infrastructure,” describing community centers, places of worship, social businesses, and parks, where people can gather and build social ties. Recent studies have mapped the social infrastructure of Boston using big data sources like the Google Maps Places API. For this project, students researched how accurately these big data sources capture social infrastructure on the ground.

View their poster here.

Client: Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Racial Equity, City of Boston

Students: Michelle Bui, Alberto Anzola, and Steven Daley

For this project, students worked with Boston’s Office of Racial Equity to prepare a formal outline of what such dialogues might become if resumed early in the administration of Boston’s new Mayor. The goals were to:

  1. Develop multiple pathways for Boston residents to participate in the implementation of Boston’s Resilience Strategy;
  2. Identify, implement, and share best practices in community engagement;
  3. Undertake a literature review and field research into Boston Area Research Initiative and School of Public Policy presentations and research papers over the past five years to establish a database of research data on Boston initiative to increase citizen engagement in policy decision-making;
  4. Establish a standard set of recommendations and a tool for community engagement and partnership; and
  5. Lay out a proposed work plan for the resumption of racial dialogues and racial equity training across Boston’s neighborhoods.

View their poster here.

Client: Professor Laura Senier, Department of Sociology

Students: PhiYen Nguyen, Lauren Moschitta, and Michael Melencio

The costs of household water and sanitation services have risen sharply in the 21st century, with some cities shutting off a household’s water supply for nonpayment. Local and state governments must make decisions about cost relief policies and payment enforcement mechanisms that have serious consequences for low-income, non-white, and other socially vulnerable group in their communities.

Students used a comparative case study design to understand how a city interacts with state-level legal and economic factors to shape these decisions. They conducted and analyzed interviews with policymakers as well as gathered and analyzed archival and web data about municipal water affordability policies. This Capstone project supported a National Science Foundation grant.

View their poster here.

Client: Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, City of Boston

Students: ​​Mia Fasano, Thao Nguyen, and Benjamin Gould

The Mayor’s Office of Small Business Development is deeply committed to supporting small business owners, especially women, immigrants, and people of color. The high closure rates of minority- and women-owned businesses last year indicate that their progress is tenuous. To prevent regression, it is imperative to make starting a business as easily accessible as possible. 

For this project, students created “starter-kits” for residents seeking to open a small business in the 5 most common industries. These kits included (1) a guide, (2) information on city permitting for that specific industry, and (3) a list of documents and resources (such as financial and banking resources and information on various business models for incorporation). The “starter kits” will enhance the ability of minority, immigrant, and women entrepreneurs to successfully launch and grow small businesses.

View their poster here.

Spring 2021

Client: Boston Art Commission, City of Boston

Students: Matthew Capone, Daniela Lacal, Larissa Morikawa, and Zachary Horine


In recent years, the racial justice movement and the indigenous rights movement have contributed to an increase in controversy in an already fraught environment surrounding public art’s role in shaping community identity and achieving representativeness. In response, the Boston Art Commission has entered a period of reconsideration of its public art collection and art commission processes, policies, and practices through the lens of equity and decolonization. For this project, students analyzed organizational practices and compared them to those of other entities commissioning public art, to determine to what extent the Boston Art Commission is meeting its goals of ‘decolonization’ and equity in public art. Team members then developed policy recommendations to further improve upon the Boston Art Commission’s objectives towards maintaining a public art collection and making art/artist selections that are representative of local communities and groups.

Client: Boston Public Schools, Office of English Learners

Students: Ge Bai, Nayely Hurtado, and Meghan Ryan


In the United States school districts are federally mandated to annually assess English learning among non-native speakers to ensure that non-native speakers are identified and provided sufficient resources to access a meaningful and equitable education. This project evaluated English language attainment through an analysis WIDA ACCESS assessment scores of English Learners (ELs) in Boston Public Schools between 2017 and 2020. This analysis is intended to help BPS and the Office of English Learners gain a better understanding of students’ English learning, to enable informed decision-making for future programs and policies for English Learners in BPS.

Client: MassDevelopment

Students: Alexsandra Galanis, Jillian Reynolds, and Sebastian Zapata


Balfour Riverwalk Park is a 3.1-acre park with some existing amenities located in downtown Attleboro, MA. Although this open space asset is centrally located, it is underutilized and previous reimagination plans have never been realized. The goal of this project was to assist MassDevelopment with creating activation strategies to grow the daily use of the space, enhance the park’s vibrancy, and increase community programming. For this project, students conducted research on existing parks, disseminated and analyzed results from an original community survey, interviewed community members and key stakeholders, and examined the current conditions of the park to propose recommendations for future revitalization efforts.

Client: Mayors Institute on City Design, City of Muskegon, Michigan

Students: Kavya Balaji, George King, and Boming Zhu


Jackson Hill is a predominantly black neighborhood on the edge of downtown Muskegon, Michigan with almost half of the residents living below the poverty line. The current condition of the neighborhood, including the vacant lots, lack of commercial options, and isolation from the rest of the city, is largely influenced by an urban renewal project in the 1960s.

Despite recent disinvestment, Jackson Hill is composed of a passionate, vibrant, and close-knit community with a dedication to education and social services. The “Investing in Equity” capstone team assisted the City of Muskegon by proposing recommendations that will be referenced in the city’s updated Master Plan and will build on the strengths of the neighborhood. The recommendations celebrate, strengthen, and invest in Jackson Hill’s rich history and collective identity, ensuring the residents of the neighborhood feel heard and recognized.

Client: Northeastern University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University COVID-19 Research Group

Students: Dylan Holck, Mengyuan Liu, Priyanka Shejwal, and Lisbeth Pimentel


The Northeastern University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University COVID-19 Research Group engaged the COVID-19 Capstone team to gather, code, and analyze qualitative data during the second wave of their social capital and pandemic resiliency research. The Capstone team interviewed Boston and New York City residents to learn of the participation pool’s personal challenges, behavioral changes, and the role of their social ties during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research revealed prominent themes related to social capital, such as the increased prevalence of virtual social fatigue and the loss of bridging social capital. The team developed a report proposing considerations for the third wave of their client’s research as well as social-capital-driven recommendations for the mitigation of pandemics and disasters in the future.

Client: Road to Responsibility, Inc.

Students: Ryan Fullam, Shi Li, Kaitlin Miller, and Shaikh Abdullah Al-Khalifa


Road to Responsibility is one of the largest organizations of its kind in Massachusetts, seeking to provide remote support services for residents within its facilities. In an industry with personnel shortages and high turnover rates of direct service providers, RTR looks to cut 10-20% FTE on overnight shifts and transition to a remote support model of service delivery. In addition to looking at budget advantages, we also researched ethics and quality of care concerns. This shift to remote support service is relatively new and mostly unregulated in Massachusetts but research from “early adopter” states shows promising results.

Client: New Lynn Coalition

Students: James English and Georgia Hamilton

Client: Environmental League of Massachusetts

Students: Cecilia Bolon, Chris Klem, Melinda Medina, and Shannon Walsh


Within the next decade, approximately one third of coal, nuclear, and oil-fired power plants in New England will be decommissioned. While there is huge potential for renewable energy like offshore wind to replace this aging fossil fuel infrastructure, this energy transition could reinforce and reproduce existing injustices if equity is not centered in new energy practices and policies. This project aims to analyze power plant closures with a justice-oriented lens by identifying what challenges communities face when a local power plant is decommissioned. This analysis, which includes an examination of state-level energy transition policies from across the United States and a case study from Somerset, MA, informs policy recommendations around how best to support communities through the decommissioning process. This project also includes an interactive mapping tool that illustrates the current polluting power plants in New England and allows users to examine environmental, demographic, and public health indicators in the surrounding communities.

Client: Office of Sustainability, Northeastern University

Students: Allison Deyo, Yasmina Estepe, Aubrey Thomas, and Yuan Ji


Northeastern University’s Office of Sustainability is updating NU’s 2010 Climate Action Plan through a campus-wide inclusive process to be known as the Climate Justice Action Plan (CJAP). In preparation of this initiative, the Office enlisted our Capstone team to provide recommendations on how to execute a broad engagement program that will ensure involvement of the Northeastern community. Our team interviewed internal Northeastern University stakeholders and researched community engagement plans from other universities and municipalities. Our findings resulted in five key recommendations: 1) Maintain transparency and build a trusting relationship with the communities, 2) Leverage widely used social media platforms to engage students, faculty and staff, 3) Connect regularly with the leaders of each student group and faculty/staff department on the planning process, 4) Partner with the internal Northeastern community and work together to include the external community in the planning process, and 5) Reward and incentivize participation.

Client: The American City Coalition

Students: Sophia Desir, David Scheckel, and Julia Vasta


This report examines the housing landscape in Boston and the social and economic impacts that large anchor institutions have on their neighboring communities. We conducted quantitative data analyses and mapped trends connected to gentrification and the rise in investor ownership of homes in the city. Our research also includes an in-depth analysis of Northeastern’s community benefits programs that comprise its PILOT payments to the city. We detail a number of policy recommendations for the City of Boston, Northeastern, and our client, The American City Coalition. We recommend taking a unified approach to strengthening tenants’ rights, providing innovative housing solutions, and empowering residents to strategically negotiate with large institutions in their neighborhoods. We conclude with observations on the unique window of opportunity that anchor institutions and neighboring residents have to renegotiate their roles and relationship to one another as Boston undergoes a change in leadership in 2021.

Fall 2020

Client: The Emerald Necklace Conservancy

Students: Sarah Langer, Andrea Patton, Anna Demina

Arborway Yards is an 18-acre site in Jamaica Plain that is the largest piece of under-developed, underutilized land along the historic Emerald Necklace Park system.  The site is currently split over three parcels—an MBTA bus maintenance facility, an MBTA-owned office building, and a City of Boston owned lot.  Plans have proposed redevelopment of the site for a variety of uses, including affordable and supportive housing, services for the homeless, and commercial and office space.  For this project, students are reviewing past planning efforts, current uses, space requirements for potential uses of the site, and the plans of current occupants of the site, to provide options and recommendations for future development.

Client: The American City Coalition

Students: Helen Hemley, Elizabeth Biskar, Dylan Ricker, Lin Zhai

Roxbury is surrounded by and adjacent to several large colleges and universities such as Northeastern, Wentworth, MassArt, and more. Most Roxbury residents are renters in this majority Black and Brown, and low-income community. Consequently, the large student population in and around Roxbury has significant ramifications on residents’ ability to secure stable housing and live comfortably and affordably. For this project, students are conducting research and proposing effective policies to ameliorate the impacts of off-campus students, including those from Northeastern University, on Roxbury’s housing market.  Methods include a review of institutional master plans, analysis of datasets on the rental market, and interviews with Roxbury community members and key stakeholders.

Client: Town of Winthrop

Students: Conor McGee, Annie Duong, Meng Du

For this project, students are assisting the Town of Winthrop in tracking metrics data with its departments to inform the FY22 budget process and related management decisions. The Town does not have a centralized process in place for gathering this information. Moreover, while the Town has technology to communicate performance metric data to the community, it does not have a centralized place or tracking system for this data that it can pull from to create charts, graphs, and other helpful visuals for the Town. The goal of this project is to assist the Town in enhance reporting of organization-wide and departmental goals and metrics in annual budget and for regular usage during the year. Students are reviewing departmental goals and metrics, working with each department to develop a system for gathering and reporting data to inform metrics set forth in budget, assessing whether progress on FY21 goals or appropriateness of budget metrics have been impacted by COVID-19, and making recommendations for communicating goals and metrics in annual budget documents.

Client: Re+Connect

Students: Karl Zenowich, Xin Shu, Stella Jordan, Yaritza DeJesus

Re+Connect is a non-profit organization that develops information and knowledge management solutions to boost disaster resilience through a connected ecosystem of people and data.  They are currently engaging community groups, disaster management and aid organizations, researchers, and entrepreneurs in Puerto Rico in building a volunteer-powered community mapping solution for disaster management.  Students in this group exploring models for how to deploy participatory community mapping to strengthen disaster resilience and overcome the current barriers that prevent the inclusion of local knowledge and information in disaster management.  Research tasks include analysis of stakeholders in disaster management and their data needs, and compilation of best practices on community-based data collection.

Client: Aldrich Resilience Lab

Students: Ziyue Chen, Lucy Hewitt, Matthew Cherkerzian

After disasters, policymakers regularly rely on recovery policy ideas and feedback from advisory committees at the city, state, and national level. The membership of these committees can affect recovery dramatically. Committees with more engineers, for example, might support infrastructural recovery over community-focused recovery, while members who sit on multiple committees might spread recovery policy ideas to other cities and states. This capstone compiles a list of disaster recovery committees that were involved in recovery after Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Harvey, gathering a dataset of committee and member traits. Team members are then analyzing these committees to identify any overlapping committee members, using statistics, qualitative case studies, and/or social network analysis as able.

Spring 2020

Team Members: Randall Gilbert, John Lovett, Alexandra Sullivan-Muniz

Client: Marjorie Greville, Emerald Necklace Conservancy

This team worked with the Emerald Necklace Conservancy in Boston to develop recommendations on the relocation of the Shattuck Hospital from its current site in Jamaica Plain to other potential near-by sites. 

View Presentation

Team Members: Nicholas Hersey, Alex Poniatowski, Haoran Zheng

Clients: Professor Daniel Aldrich and Timothy Fraser

This team examined economic recovery strategies applied in Louisiana Parishes (Counties) after Hurricane Katrina, to explore how varying hard (infrastructure), soft (community-based social), state, and local investment strategies enabled the parishes to become more resilient.

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Team Members: Ashley Armand, Kathryn DeRobertis, Alexander Tappan

Clients: Prof. Daniel Aldrich and Prof. Ester Villalonga Olives, University of Maryland

This team worked with Professor Daniel Aldrich at Northeastern, and with Professor Ester Villalonga Olives of the University of Maryland, to assist in assessing, through a literature search, how varying interventions enabled refugees to become more resilient and cohesive in their communities.

View Presentation

Team Members: Nicholas Gallegos, Benjamin Hoffman, Josephine Susa

Clients: Jacob Glickel, Office of Campus Planning and Real Estate; Victoria Spies, Campus Planning and Development

This team worked with Northeastern University planners to assess the viability of expanding alternative mobility options on Northeastern’s Boston campus.

View Presentation

Team Members: Elizabeth Harrington, Larry Hibbler, Jianchi Xu, David Nardelli

Clients: Thomas Callahan and Symone Crawford, Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance

This team explored first-time home ownership programs in the Greater Boston area and developed recommendations to better enable first-generation home ownership through a program with the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance.

View Presentation

Team Members: Aileen McGrory, Sky Olander, Conor Simao

Clients: Elizabeth Ennen, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services; Gordon Shaw, Community Legal Aid

This team worked with a Law School faculty member and the Supreme Judicial Court to assess barriers to recruiting and meeting the needs of attorneys providing pro bono legal services in Massachusetts.

Team Members: Aseem Vikas, Deodhar James Nee, Hannah Silbert, Fuyang Sun

Clients: Clients: Bill Bochnak and Meaghen Hamill, City of Lynn

This team worked with planners, advocates, and other stake-holders in Lynn, Massachusetts, to develop recommendations for amenities associated with bicycle pathways on the Northern Strand, Community Trail, Lynn Commons, Cultural District, and Nahant Beach.

Miscellaneous Projects

The objective of this Capstone project was to create an innovative and comprehensive development proposal that would address the needs of Codman Square NeighborhoodDevelopment Corporation (CSNDC). Together, in collaboration with graduate students from Boston Architectural College, the group envisioned a mixed-use, mixed-income development with 35 affordable housing units at Morton Street Crossing on the Mattapan/Dorchester line. Their proposal scored a second place award at the 16th annual Affordable Housing Development Competition. “I was really impressed with the work they did, and I was really happy to see them excited,” said Vitalia Shklovsky, project manager at CSNDC. “Because they’re so new, it was really helpful to have them do so much work, especially in the community outreach piece. It was valuable on the company perspective to have that insight, basically free work, and building relationships with the students who will be entering the field.”

City councilors in Cambridge, Massachusetts, expressed interested in using new information technologies and other creative strategies to deepen citizen engagement with government. A Northeastern capstone team examined the use of “co-creation” tools such as social media and smart phone apps in cities that recently implemented such strategies: Boston, Portland, Oregon, and Palo Alto, California. The team assessed the tools implemented, strengths and weaknesses of the respective strategies, and concluded with an initial set of lessons for Cambridge to consider as it moves forward with its co-creation planning.

The City of Lynn, north of Boston, adopted a waterfront master plan for the future commercial, industrial, and residential development of a long underutilized zone. The Plan envisioned a vibrant waterfront connected to the rest of the City and identified the Lynnway, a limited access highway, as an impediment to a “walkable” urban space. The Northeastern team analyzed the challenge of connecting the waterfront to the City and explored alternatives to improving pedestrian access at major points identified by city officials. Those options ranged from suppressing a portion of the highway to utilizing traffic calming measures. Case studies of the alternatives were compiled and assessed, and the team provided a menu of options for City officials to consider in seeking funding through national and regional sources.

In this project, a capstone team explored the dynamics of food access as it relates to community gardens in Boston. The team mapped the spatial distribution of community gardens, and spaces for potential new gardens, as well as the location of various types of food stores, fast food restaurants, and other services. The team established that not all community gardens serve the immediate residents of the neighborhoods in which they are located, that areas identified as “food deserts” have fewer community gardens, and that the mere presence of community gardens has little apparent impact on crime. Recommendations included the need for a more comprehensive analysis of who benefits from community gardens, the development of new community gardens in areas identified as “food deserts,” and more research to assess resident perceptions about community gardens and community safety.

The Boston Natural Areas Network (BNAN) has played a major role in the development of community gardens in Boston, and owns 59 community gardens throughout the city. Through its Boston is Growing Gardens (BIGG) initiative BNAN has sought in recent years to double the number of plots in its Dorchester community gardens. Both to support this effort, and to better understand whether urban agricultural production is meeting the needs of communities underserved by retail fresh produce outlets, BNAN sought the help of a MURP student group to analyze food access in Boston. Using Geographic Information Systems, students developed a methodology for identifying food deserts and applied it to Boston. Their analysis identified several food desert areas, notably parts of Mattapan, that do not yet have many gardens. Their report made recommendations regarding future areas to target for the expansion of community gardens, and about garden membership requirements intended to broaden access to fresh food for community residents who currently lack such access.

East Dedham has the most racially and ethnically diverse population and the youngest residents in Dedham. However, the area has the lowest average household median income in Dedham and an aging housing stock due to a recent lack of investment. In order to reverse this trend the Town of Dedham, along with many members of the East Dedham community, participated in a charrette process in April 2013. Participants in this process expressed a desire to foster the creative economy in East Dedham as a way to attract young creative industry professionals who would be interested in living and working there. For this capstone project, students developed recommendations for implementing the ideas put forth in the charette report, and specifically for the application of Arts Overlay Zoning in East Dedham. Arts Overlay Zoning is intended to encourage the development of a vibrant, mixed use environment that allows and enables artistic production. The group researched existing conditions in East Dedham, and examined case studies of creative economy development in similar communities. They also interviewed officials and representatives of community organizations, and held a public forum in which they gained input from the community. The resulting report contained recommendations regarding the creation of the Arts Overlay District, as well as measures to build organizational capacity, and ideas about urban design and marketing of the area.