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Independent Projects

Past Projects

New York City Urban Innovation Roadmap - "Pilot: New York City"

Spring 2023 |

Focus: Urban Economic Development; Technology; Ecosystem Strategy
Team: Zoe Zabor
Description: In December 2022, the Governor of New York and Mayor of New York City released the 'New' New York Plan focused on transforming the city's job centers to support the ways people will live and work in the future. A set of initiatives emerged to serve as a roadmap to make New York City the best place to work. Spearheaded by the NYC Economic Development Corporation and Cornell Tech, Initiative 31 was established to: Make New York City the global hub of urban innovation. As part of her Independent Project, Zoe collaborated with the NYCEDC team to design a research-backed roadmap incorporating all ecosystem stakeholders - startups, government, accelerators and pilot locations, academics, venture funds, and other cities. The strategic sprint focused on 1) improved use of technology to achieve New York's policy goals, 2) growing the urban tech sector (market size, job creation), and 3) establishing New York's brand as the leader in urban tech. The outcome - "Pilot: New York City" was released in October 2023. The press release can be found here and the full report here.

Boston Public Schools Hiring Process Improvement

Spring 2022 |

Focus: Education Operations
Team: Jenny Zhou
Description: Public schools nationwide are struggling with a shortage of teachers and staff and are consistently challenged to fill vacancies. This project focused specifically on working with the Human Capital Staffing team and analyzing their hiring process to identify pain points that are preventing them from hiring efficiently. Through interviews with Staffing Managers, recent candidates and new hires, and BPS leadership, I identified the main concerns and three key opportunities for improvement. The recommendations focused on a dual approach of technical (e.g., process standardization) and adaptive (e.g., greater collaboration) improvements, while also implementing data analysis and metrics tracking.

ArcelorMittal and the private sector during the Ebola crisis

Spring 2016 |

Focus: Healthcare; International Development
Team: Sarah Nam and Sisi Pan
Description: The Ebola outbreak in 2013-16 devastated West Africa – both economically and on a human development level. The global community tends to look to governments and multilaterals during public health crises, but in what contexts can the private sector be better equipped to act and in what ways? ArcelorMittal (AM), an integrated steel and mining company with a large concession in Liberia, demonstrated leadership among the business community by founding the Ebola Private Sector Mobilization Group (EPSMG). Our project evaluated the role that AM and EPSMG played during the Ebola crisis in Liberia.

Measuring the "Impact" in Impact Investing

Spring 2015 |

Focus: Impact investing / Social Finance
Team: Ivy So and Alina Staskevicius
Description: The growth of impact investing has led to an unprecedented focus on impact measurement, with the aim of understanding both financial and social return on these investments. However, impact measurement is complex in practice, and varies in approach and rigor, with a number of methodologies and practices emerging from different organizations. The aim of this study was to deepen the understanding of the specific practices and methodologies that established impact investors are using to measure the social impact generated by their investments, and to analyze the conditions under which each measurement method is most relevant. We also recommend an integrated model of impact measurement by drawing upon the best practices found in our study. Download report - Measuring the "Impact" in Impact Investing (pdf)

Lincoln Center: Global Thought Leader in the Arts

Focus: Arts Funding
Team: Victoria Sung
Description: Over the fall term, I worked with Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts to conceptualize and create a prototype for Lincoln Center Global Perspectives, an annual publication that seeks to establish the organization as an international thought leader in the nonprofit arts space. This publication, organized in conjunction with an annual cultural conference in New York (the first to be held in September 2015), will enable Lincoln Center to create and disseminate knowledge in the hopes of helping Lincoln Center further its mission to make a meaningful, intellectual contribution to the larger conversation about the role and impact of the arts in society.

My final deliverable was a white paper that examined the shifting landscape for funding in the arts. In order to determine the nature of this shift, I constructed a study that drew from a recent survey of 652 museums in "Museums on the Map, 1995-2012" (published just this past year by Fondazione di Venezia). After setting certain research parameters in order to provide focus to the study (e.g., I looked at arts institutions in the ten largest economies by GDP, considered new builds as opposed to expansion or renovation projects, etc.), I was able to point to interesting trends in the data (e.g. the growth of private funding and single-source funding). This paper enabled me to draw conclusions for both the larger conversation about funding in the arts as well as conclusions specific to Lincoln Center's international business development initiatives.

MD Anderson Health Care Cost Management

Focus: Health Care Value
Team: Stephen Schleicher
Description: Our project's purpose was to assess the actual cost (vs. what is billed) of brachytherapy for early stage prostate cancer at MD Anderson Cancer Center. To assess cost, we used Professor Bob Kaplan's time driven activity based costing (TDABC) method. We compared this data from MD Anderson, a large academic comprehensive cancer center, to Chicago Prostate Center, a "focused factory" that solely treats prostate cancer using brachytherapy. Our next step will be to compare outcomes across these two centers, giving us both outcome and cost data for these different treatment paradigms (comprehensive academic center vs. focused factory). With this data, we will be able to compare the healthcare value (defined as outcomes over cost) for both treatment centers and hopefully be able to make recommendations to the radiation therapy field about how to best maximize value (and thus manage costs) using brachytherapy for early stage prostate cancer.

Eureka Ed, Inc.

Fall 2014 |

Focus: Education Technology and STEM Education
Team: Nicole Bucala
Description: The U.S. currently leads the world in technological innovation and technology employers: according to an industry report by PWC, 90% of the largest SaaS firms in the world are U.S. firms.1 To maintain its advantage, the country must be able to meet continued technical employment needs. In his 2012 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama underscored this point well:

"…Business leaders who want to hire in the United States… can't find workers with the right skills. Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many [job] openings as we have workers who can do the job…openings at a time when millions of Americans are looking for work…That's inexcusable." 2

Eureka Ed, Inc. focuses on closing the gap in American STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. Our customer research and KOL interviews show the drivers of lack of engineering education in America are caused by two things: a) a lack of available resources - people and tools - to teach children STEM skills, and b) the propensity for American children to be intimidated by STEM education at an early age and to "give up" an interest in it by the age of ten. As such, we are building an educational mobile app that uses innovations in children's media to teach STEM skills through funny, interactive, animated, short movies. In this way, we seek to address the two challenges to STEM education by providing a) an accessible educational resource that b) replaces feelings of intimidation with inspiration, achievement, curiosity, and fun.

Eureka Ed teammates Nicole Bucala, John Blakeslee, Danny Kuriluk, Rhed Shi, and John Cimina have been working hard during fall 2014 to a) research customer demand (parents, teachers, students), b) better understand the educational need, and c) incorporate customer desires into the design and build of an educational app that teaches 6-11 y/o STEM skills. Using IDEO's human-centered approach to design, we have used customer feedback to complete prototypes of 1) our user interface 2) our educational content and story, and 3) our entertaining content (movie characters).


1. [PwC. (2013). PwC Global 100 Software Leaders. http://www.pwc.com/en_US/us/technology/publications/assets/pwc-global-software-100.pdf"]

2. [Obama, B. (2012). Remarks by the President in State of the Union Address. The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. Retrieved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/01/24/remarks-president-state-union-address]

Understanding "Tech4Govt" (Fall 2014)

Fall 2014 |

Focus: Technology and Government
Team: Jen Bullock
Description:This social enterprise project involves year-long research into how governments best incorporate technology and IT platforms for the purposes of providing services and connecting with their constituents. The research explores how the government, private sector, and individual policymakers work together to increase the level and use of IT platforms to deliver government services. The research examines a country, Estonia, that was successful in becoming "the most wired country in the world," and draws lessons on what the US Government can do to increase sophistication and adoption of online services.

Developing a Growth Strategy for Wecyclers

Fall 2014 |

Focus: International Development and Environmental Impact
Team: Efosa Ojomo
Description: Wecyclers is powering social change using the environment by helping people in low-income communities capture value from their waste. In many urban areas, waste has become an unmanageable crisis, eroding quality of life mostly for the poor, and draining natural resources. This project explored ways to grow Wecyclers (a Nigerian plastics recyclable collection company) by analyzing the economic viability of a Collections Agent Network, a Waste for Education Initiative, and developing key partners.

Global Infrastructure Basel Project Analysis

Spring 2014 |

Focus: Infrastructure Grading and Early Stage Financing
Team: Xiaozhou Ju
Description: The objective of the project is to study the impact and economic feasibility of setting up a factory in Bogota region for the recycling of construction debris and production of eco-material brick and asphalt. The project was conducted through on-site research with Bogota City Department of Environment and local eco-material manufactures, as well as interviews with value chain partners. The grading system of Global Infrastructure Basel serves as a central planning tool for the project and guides the early development of the project.

Research on financial distribution channels for Enterprise solutions to Poverty

Spring 2014 |

Focus: Financial Inclusion for Latin America
Team: Jorge Fernandez and Ana Maria Arroyo
Description: Enterprise Solutions for poverty is an organization that mobilizes and supports leading companies and entrepreneurs in building profitable and inclusive businesses. Our research was focused on analyzing different distribution models for financial products among low income consumers in Mexico, Colombia and Peru. We visited leading banks in each of these countries in order to understand best in class solutions to reach the bottom of the pyramid and therefore promote financial inclusion. The end product will be a study, that put together with the findings from other teams working in other regions of the world, will showcase best practices in the topic, to be distributed among all participating agents. Our objective is to disseminate knowledge and facilitate implementation of the most efficient solutions for distribution of financial products.

Sustainable Apparel Coalition: Higg Index Validation

Fall 2013 |

Focus: Corporate Sustainability; Sustainability Measurement
Team: Molly Doctors
Description: The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, represents approximately 1/3 of the apparel industry, with members including Walmart, Target, VF, Nike, REI, Patagonia, Gap, H&M, and many more. In 2012, the SAC launched the Higg Index, a comprehensive measure of environmental and social sustainability. The Facilities Module of the Higg Index is self-reported by manufacturers, and requires some level of validation to ensure accuracy. This project provided a pilot validation protocol and helped shape the SAC's 2014 work plan to finalize the protocol and enable benchmarking, collaborative validation, and an eventual move toward consumer-facing social and environmental information on product labels.