City of Ann Arbor, "Responsive Budgeting"
The Ann Arbor City Council asked the city’s CFO to recommend a new approach to the city’s budgeting process that would better engage citizens and produce a budget that is more responsive to their preferences. Students conducted research on best practices in peer communities, interviewed key informants and stakeholders, and made recommendations to the CFO.
Ed-Trust Midwest, "Teacher Career Pathways"
A previous SPPC project with Ed-Trust Midwest analyzed quantitative/administrative data from Michigan to characterize inequities in teacher quality across the state. This project used primarily qualitative methods to build on that previous study to identify promising career pathways for teachers in lower-performing districts. Students conducted background research, identified best practices, and critically examined options for improving teacher quality.
Government Accountability Office, "Robo Advisors"
The prevalence of on-line retirement planning tools including so-called “Robo Advisors” has increased dramatically in recent years. Students explored questions such as: What is known about the availability and construction of publicly available Robo Advisors for participants to use in planning for a secure retirement, and what is the nature and quality of the advice provided? How are these on-line tools treated under law and regulation compared to human advisors and service providers? What legislative or regulatory actions, if any, can the congress and the administration take to ensure that these on-line tools provide quality, unconflicted retirement advice? Students undertook Internet searches, conducted interviews with academics and industry experts, identified/reviewed/critiqued existing studies of Robo Advisors, reviewed laws and regulatory frameworks, and developed a list of best practices and promising approaches displayed by the tools identified as “industry leading” or “widely accepted”.
Government Accountability Office, "Retirement Savings Plans"
About half of workers—especially those who are low income or employed by small firms—lack access to a retirement savings plan through their employer. To address this issue, a growing number of states have proposed or begun implementing programs to provide access to workers whose employer does not offer a retirement plan. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is interested in learning more about recent developments in state efforts to expand coverage in retirement savings plans. For this project, students conducted internet searches and conducted in-depth case studies of 2-3 states to provide an update of the current status of state efforts to expand coverage, summarized characteristics of state efforts, and assessed potential benefits and challenges facing state efforts, including potential legal uncertainty and implementation challenges.
National Coalition for Community Capital (NC3), "Local Investing"
NC3 is a national organization that advocates for changes in policy and practice to open opportunities to small-scale investors. NC3 is motivated by the idea that democratizing investing benefits businesses, investors, and communities. To help create a knowledge base of best practices, successes and failures, students conducted in-depth case studies of local investments from across the U.S., developed an evaluation methodology and used it to analyze the cases, and wrote a report that will be used as background information at the National ComCap Conference in Detroit in Spring 2019.
Port of Monroe, "Economic Impact of USCBP on the Port of Monroe"
The Port of Monroe, Michigan, is a municipally owned port, strategically located on the St. Lawrence-Great Lakes seaway. In recent years, the port has taken an aggressive strategy towards the development of its facilities in order to compete as a major player in maritime shipping. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) has taken a very stringent approach to how the port handles international cargo, causing the port to miss several key opportunities. Students examined the USCBP’s policies relative to other Great Lakes regions and estimated the economic losses, both direct and indirect, resulting from the limitations placed on the port.
UM Alumni Association, "Strategic Planning Around a Beloved Asset"
The University of Michigan Alumni Association’s Camp Michigania started a master / strategic planning process. Students conducted research and benchmarking with other alumni family camps and similar programs and facilities. Students undertook the following, including but not limited to: information gathering including internet research, phone interviews, focus groups, site visits, data analytics and demographic analysis. Recommendations and background research were shared with Master Planning Stakeholders.