Projects

Read here about the projects we will be working on during the Fall 2018 semester. Each of these projects was ranked highly by the Hartford Resident Advisory Board and selected by students and faculty fellows.

See current project proposals here. See examples of past projects here

Food Stories

CONTACT
Meg Hourigan

ORGANIZATION
Connecticut Food System Alliance

MISSION
The Connecticut Food System Alliance (CFSA) is a statewide network of individuals, organizations, and institutions working to create a more just and equitable food system. The CFSA is dedicated to fostering greater connectivity throughout the state in an effort to affect broad systems change. We aim to facilitate collaborations and the sharing of information, skills, and resources.

PROJECT
PROBLEM: How can we make detailed, wordy food policy relevant to and digestible for everyone to encourage widespread advocacy? The Action Lab team would be a strong partner with the CFSA in launching a storytelling and policy education campaign. The project would pair personal narratives of Connecticut residents’ experiences in the food system (ex.: a high school student’s experience eating school lunch; a job training program participant who starts her own food business) with thorough policy and history research to give the full context of the story. The goal of this project is to uplift the deeply personal relationships we have with food while teaching about the environment, history, and policy that led to that story.

RESEARCH
Policy research: the specific topic will vary from story to story, but students will work with the CFSA coordinator to thoroughly research a food policy issue (ex.: SNAP / food stamp benefits; food waste regulations) and synthesize it into a short, accessible overview to pair with a video story. Research may include reading policy reports and federal program data, state legislation, interviews with state agency/federal agency staff, news articles, etc.

PRODUCTS
4 food stories. These will be personal stories from Connecticut residents, preferably video, but if the storyteller has a strong preference, we can explore other mediums (a written story or photo essay, for example). 4 policy briefs. Each personal story will be paired with a policy brief explaining the context in which the story unfolded. This will be written and posted alongside the video/story online.

Sarah Moon (UConn), Katie Burton are potential faculty fellows.
28 students are interested in this project.

Opportunity Youth

CONTACT
Julie Geyer

ORGANIZATION
Capital Workforce Partners

MISSION
Our mission is to leverage public and private resources to produce skilled workers for a competitive regional economy.

PROJECT
The Hartford Data Collaborative (HDC), in conjunction with the Hartford Opportunity Youth Collaborative (HOYC) and other lead agencies and programs, is building an Opportunity Youth data repository. To date, five organizations which serve Hartford Opportunity Youth supply data to the HDC. There are still 15 to 20 organizations which do not. To gain a fuller picture of Hartford’s Opportunity Youth, to see who is being served and who is not, and how to move those not being served onto a career pathway, the HDC would like to gather data from these remaining organizations and analyze the results. Hartford Opportunity Youth Collaborative (HOYC) The HOYC brings together leaders and stakeholders from key systems – education, youth development and workforce development – to improve outcomes for “opportunity youth”, defined as 16-24 year olds lacking a high school diploma, or who have a diploma but are not in school and not working. There are an estimated 6,000 opportunity youth in Hartford. This effort is one of 21 grantees nationally of the Aspen Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund. A collective impact approach is used to demonstrate best practices to improve outcomes and scale-up effective practices across systems. The resulting comprehensive plan is expected to decrease the number of Hartford youth disconnected from education and employment. Hartford Data Collaborative (HDC) The HDC is a coalition of multiple non-profit agencies and collaboratives, led by the HOYC, the City’s Performance Pilot Partnership (P3) Initiative, and MOVE UP’s 2 Gen Initiative in collaboration with Generation Works. The purpose of the HDC is to develop a data integration strategy and platform to allow for collecting, integrating, aggregating, reporting, and analyzing data at the program, provider, and system levels.

RESEARCH
1. Data sourcing: a. Work with organizations that are not currently part of the HDC b. Get data from these organizations (data to be specified by Capital Workforce Partners) c. Prepare data for upload into the HDC software 2. Data analysis: a. Identify data gaps b. Analyze what the data is telling us 3. Organization survey: a. Develop survey questions b. Implement survey c. Analyze what the results are telling us

PRODUCTS
Create report to include: a. Data analysis b. Survey analysis c. Related graphics, e.g., charts, tables, infographics, etc. d. Present results and report to Capital Workforce Partners management This project and the resulting report, analysis, and information will be used to further strengthen the Hartford Opportunity Youth Collaborative, and provide the ability to perform more comprehensive data analysis.

Alyson Spurgas (Trinity), Katie Burton, Sarah Moon (UConn) are potential faculty fellows.
28 students are interested in this project.

Home Ownership Project

CONTACT
Jeffrey Devereux

ORGANIZATION
Breakfast Lunch & Dinner

MISSION
Breakfast Lunch & Dinner is to create collective culture in the communities we work in.

PROJECT
How do we develop tools to build equity in real estate for low wage earners in Hartford, specifically people of color? The problem we are concerned with is the difficulty for low wage earners in Hartford to build equity (wealth), particularly in real estate (i.e. own a home or a condo). While we are aware that there are some tool available for lower income earner to borrow through CFDIs, tax credit funded programs and other similar programs, the problem persists that low income earners, and even those who are income eligible for bank mortgages, are not accessing financing.

RESEARCH
We hope that the research will dig into understanding this problem specific to Hartford and could include an analysis of the loan and mortgage programs in Hartford, whether they are adequate in scope and scale, if key components are missing, if solutions found in other places are missing here, if solutions exist but are not being implemented, etc. We also hope to understand if the existing programs are robust enough to create meaningful wealth growth in Hartford, for instance how big a pot of money to do agencies serving the Hartford community actually have access to and if it all was being used where would that get us.

PRODUCTS
We are imagining an informative journalism style piece with accompanying infographic(s).

ADDITIONAL
Learn more

Aaron Burton is a potential faculty fellow.
26 students are interested in this project.

Sustainable Food Project

CONTACT
Shubhada Kambli

ORGANIZATION
City of Hartford

MISSION
The Office of Sustainability’s mission is to implement projects identified in the City’s newly-adopted Climate Action Plan. Addressing six interconnected action areas related to energy, food, landscape, waste, water and transportation, the Office works with residents, city staff, government agencies, and nonprofit stakeholders to maximize benefits for residents related to public health, economic development and social equity.

PROJECT
Food justice is an issue fundamental to the wellbeing of Hartford’s residents. With most local families living in a food desert – and median household income at $30,630 – the freshest, and most nourishing food is out of reach for most community members. Locally-sourced, organic fruits, vegetables and plant proteins can be a potent solution for this critical issue. Foods grown in the region have the added, intensely positive, co-benefits of supporting small businesses and area jobs, while also reducing toxic air pollution associated with long haul delivery. Given the known associations between local foods and health outcomes, more work must be done to support the area’s well-organized food security efforts and further decouple the typically inverse relationship between a food product’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) intensity and cost. An essential first step in this process is to develop a GHG intensity index for food, which is a powerful part of an effective food security strategy identified in the city’s new Climate Action Plan.

RESEARCH
We’d like to know about the emissions associated with nutrient-rich, locally-available foods plus the cost, ultimately creating a pathway to help consumers make buying decisions that are good for personal health and finances, as well as the environment and the economy. If possible, we would also like to see recommendations on ways to fill gaps identified by the analysis, for example, through marketing of available products or platforms or exploration of new growing techniques that maximize existing available space. This project will include research on foods that are available to local consumers by source (i.e. store, farmers markets or community garden), by emissions, and by season. The work will involve understanding existing local efforts to create access to high quality foods, and evaluating related emissions associated with the local food system. Cost to consumer plus information related to nutrient dense foods will also be key variables in the analysis. Some field work will likely be necessary to understand the consumer perspective.

PRODUCTS
Three different types of work products would be helpful to us: An Index, narrative analysis, plus supporting marketing materials. The index will help a) identify current and future sources of local foods made available by both nonprofits (i.e. community gardens, farmer’s markets) and the private sector, b) emissions by food type and c) cost to the consumer. Ideally, this information will be in a table that can be easily distributed among local partners or included in future project applications. Additional narrative analysis on the results (i.e. foods that are low-cost, healthy, and low emissions) will be very helpful. Finally, marketing materials addressing some of the gaps uncovered by the analysis will help support both existing and future efforts to improve local food security. These materials may be a printed one-page flier or more general content for social media or online sites. Take together, this work can ultimately be used to create a roadmap for a cleaner, healthier and more abundant local food economy that serves resident interests first.

ADDITIONAL
Learn more

Christoph Geiss (Trinity), Sarah Moon (UConn), Alyson Spurgas (Trinity) are potential faculty fellows.
28 students are interested in this project.