Student Capstone Papers, Projects, and Presentations

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    Rethinking Adolescence and Education Policy
    (2024-05-01) Piper, Lauren; Leopold, Melanie; Reese, Sophie; Trueblood, Isabelle
    We were commissioned to conduct the research for this report by an organization called The Civic Affairs Trust, or TCAT. TCAT is a Minnesota-based trust whose purpose is to facilitate the redesign of community services and systems so they are self-improving. To date, TCAT's focus has been the K-12 public education system. TCAT approached the Humphrey School with the hypothesis that current policies governing eligibility for two alternative pathways programs, Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) and the General Education Development test (GED), are creating barriers for students because these policies limit participation based on age. We used qualitative research methods to answer three research questions: 1. What is adolescence? 2. Are age-restricted education policies creating unnecessary barriers to GED and PSEO programs in Minnesota? 3. If age is not a useful measure of readiness for PSEO and GED programs, what alternative measures might we consider? Our conclusions and recommendations around these three questions are based on our qualitative research findings.
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    Connexus Energy Air-Source Heat Pump Potential Study
    (2024-05-01) Benson, Sam; Tikk, Daniel; Vang, Akia
    This report assesses the perceptions among the members of the project client, Connexus Energy (Connexus), a Minnesota electric cooperative, towards air-source heat pumps (ASHPs) to inform the client’s future approach toward ASHPs. To answer this question, the authors conducted qualitative and quantitative research, including two surveys of Connexus members, a focus group with members, and performed cost-benefit analysis of ASHP adoption for Connexus members. The research findings were synthesized to inform the recommendations to Connexus. The recommended actions for Connexus to take include the creation of a preferred HVAC contractor network that customers can utilize, more robust marketing of ASHPs, targeted messaging towards customers regarding ASHPs, and the restructuring of incentives to increase utilization and benefit to customers.
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    Creating Affordable Homes: An Evaluation of the Minneapolis Homes Create Strategy
    (2024-05-01) Goodrich , Dan; Yudelman, Beth
    This project was a qualitative analysis of the Create Strategy of the Minneapolis Homes Program. The project was designed to determine to what extent the strategy is meeting its goals. The Minneapolis Homes Program is managed by the Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) housing division. The mission of the Minneapolis Homes Program (started in 2020) is to help people access, create, and sustain affordable homeownership to eliminate racial disparities in homeownership. This capstone project was specifically focused on the Create Strategy of the program - to what extent are the Minneapolis Homes: Financing and Property Sale Programs successfully creating opportunities to build new homes and rehabilitate existing homes to eliminate racial disparities in homeownership within the city of Minneapolis? Three key findings emerged from our research: 1) Minneapolis Homes is well led and viewed as a national leader, 2) Some developers experience significant “pain points” when working with the city. Further, the experiences that builders have with the city can vary significantly and can be inconsistent. For example, newer community developers need more support navigating the city’s process and receiving early financial support for construction, while larger developers want more consistency, and 3) The Create Strategy is underfunded. More funding is needed for the Minneapolis Homes Create Strategy to increase capacity within the city as well as for specific development projects. In addition, outside forces such as post-Covid inflation, labor shortages, and the Minneapolis 2040 plan lawsuit are adding time, costs, and stress for builders. On a macro level, we recommend that Minneapolis Homes work closely with city departments and divisions to advance the city’s identified primary goal. On a micro level, we recommend that Minneapolis Homes 1) clarify the primary goal within CPED in relation to equity and homeownership: what to incentivize and what to require, 2) seek additional funding to advance the identified goals of the Create Strategy, 3) continue to streamline the process for developers and customize support (including more financial and logistical support when needed), and 4) continue to strengthen communication with developers, city staff, and funders. In addition, Minneapolis Homes should examine whether more homeowner participation in evaluating the Create Strategy is beneficial.
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    Evaluating Gender-Transformative Programming in Humanitarian Aid
    (2024-05-01) Andrada , Paxton; Bhor, Shweta; Khalil, Malak; Wright, Alishia
    Since the United Nations Resolution 1325 was passed, the humanitarian community has developed guidelines and tools to assist practitioners in designing and implementing more gender-sensitive and gender-inclusive programs. However, in practice, the operationalization of gender-inclusive approaches is often pro forma, peripheral, or an add-on to existing and predetermined programming efforts. This research project, undertaken in partnership with the Women's Refugee Commission (WRC), a leading organization committed to addressing the unique needs of women, children, and youth displaced by conflict and crisis, seeks to determine the barriers faced by program staff when implementing gender-transformative programming. The study includes a desk review of existing literature regarding this kind of programming in humanitarian aid, and qualitative interviews with gender experts in the aid sector to fill in any gaps found in the literature. Through the desk review, there are two cluster focuses, food security and sexual and reproductive health, along with two crisis focuses, the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and internally displaced peoples in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The desk review was used to formulate the interview guide for the expert interviews. Based on the findings of the literature review, case studies and the interviews, we formulated recommendations to implement effective gender-transformative programs.
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    Oromia Human Rights Abuse Coverage: Cataloging the Coverage of Human Rights Abuses in the Oromia Region
    (2024-05-01) Adema-Jula , Biftu; Dakwa-Agyekum, Oketekyie; Diis, Abdirizak
    Utilizing a literature review, this project catalogs and analyzes the coverage of human rights abuses in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. The Oromia region, like other parts of Ethiopia, has been blighted by ethnically motivated civil conflicts for decades. Our client, the Oromo Legacy Leadership and Advocacy Association, sought to understand any discernible trends in the level of human rights abuse coverage the Oromia region received over the last six years and the nature of that coverage. We tallied the amount of coverage human rights issues in Oromia received from 2018 to 2023 for seven select media organizations and human rights-focused international non-governmental organizations (INGO). We highlighted any discernible trends in the level of coverage the region received from the selected organizations. Additionally, we analyzed the formal human rights abuse reporting prepared by four human rights-focused governmental bodies to identify the amount of coverage focused on human rights abuses received by the region, recurring themes across their reporting, and analyzed the major themes noted for congruence with the prevailing socio-political situation in Ethiopia at the time. To provide some comparative basis from other regions in the country we also completed the steps detailed above for tallying coverage for the Amhara and Tigray regions for the years 2018 and 2020. We also analyzed the reporting on the Amhara and Tigray regions in the formal report reviewed in conjunction with the Oromia region. We found that 2020 represented the peak year of coverage for the Oromia region but only as a by-product of the increased focus on the fledgling conflict in the Tigray region despite the conflict in the Oromia region having been ongoing for years by then. We also found that the onset of the Tigray conflict brought with it an increased level of coverage in the formal human rights reporting that was absent from ongoing conflicts in other regions. We recommend additional research here with an expanded timeline and more defined parameters to analyze the articles and reports published by the media and INGOs for a comprehensive and qualitative analysis.
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    Achieving Equitable and Effective Community Engagement through Social and Relational Network Analysis
    (2024-05-01) Cazares-Reyes , Jesus; Grimlund , Terri; Sniegowski, Erica; Soria, Alejandra
    Through the Humphrey School of Public Affairs capstone program, a student-consultant team of four graduate students worked with their capstone client, the City of Minnetonka, to better understand social networks within the City of Minnetonka and the impacts social networks may have on equitable community engagement. The City of Minnetonka is situated in Hennepin County and has a population of approximately 54,000 (Metropolitan Council, n.d.). Community inclusiveness is a strategic priority of the City of Minnetonka, which includes actively engaging the community to achieve broader policy outcomes, respond to community needs, and remove barriers for participating in programs and services. City staff proposed that, through a better understanding of social and relational networks within the city and between the city and community, the city can develop more effective and equitable public engagement and work towards achieving community inclusiveness. The team focused on understanding the social networks of City of Minnetonka staff and the nature of relationships between city staff and community members. This was informed by background research on social networks, social network analysis, and equitable engagement. Social networks are composed of network members, which can be people or organizations, that are connected to other members through one or more relations (Marin & Wellman, 2009). Through social network analysis, which is the visualization and analysis of network members and their relations, this project sought to bring greater understanding of the social networks among city staff and between city staff and community members.
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    Building Together: Integrating Community Insights from North Minneapolis into West Broadway Development
    (2024-05-01) Mussa, Ahlam; Caples, Edward; Eckstrom, Carly; Polk, Spencer
    Justice Built Communities (JBC), an equitable economic development arm of Pillsbury United Communities (PUC), owns a handful of vacant lots and disused properties in North Minneapolis. PUC envisions a development process that heavily involves the community. As JBC is still in its infancy, PUC is looking to gather information from residents and business owners on how to best develop the acquired properties. The Humphrey team laid the foundation for future engagement. This included conducting interviews with previous organizations who engaged in the area, community engagement work, and focus groups. Additionally, a content analysis of engagement documentation associated with North Minneapolis was synthesized and gaps identified. The culmination of this work resulted in recommendations to PUC to equitably engage the community with purpose and meaning. These recommendations will be further leverage to create a space that will lead to prosperity for its residents.
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    Building for the Future: Affordable Redevelopment on Wayzata Boulevard
    (2024-05-01) Farmer, Zachary; Breen, Aidan; Klingbeil, Dwight
    The way we think about commutes and suburban transit is changing, all the more rapidly since the COVID-19 pandemic. Transit agencies nationwide are seeing demand for Park & Ride decline, and the same is true for Metro Transit in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. This study examines possible site plans for an underutilized suburban Park & Ride site near the corner of Wayzata Boulevard and Barry Avenue in Wayzata. Utilizing 1) Existing site conditions, 2) City regulations and documentation, 3) an Affordable Housing finance literature review, and 4) Developer interviews, our team compiles a development switchboard, which is used to propose two primary paths for redevelopment on the site. These two paths are used to illustrate tradeoffs that would be involved in the future development at this site. The first development path, As-of-Right, examines what is possible on the site under current zoning constraints, and how it may correspond and conflict with the goals of the City, Metro Transit, and a theoretical development team. The second development path, Maximize Residential, asks what zoning and policy changes would be required to successfully develop affordable housing at a meaningful scale, including accessing the resources of Housing Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit. The final section of the report outlines the past community engagement regarding this site and presents an equity-oriented engagement framework to incorporate key community member feedback throughout the process of site redevelopment.
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    Deeply Affordable Housing in the Twin Cities Metro: Who produces it, where, and how?
    (2024-05-01) Abdullahi, Abdullahi; Koch, James; Maxwell, Harrison; McEnery, Griffin
    Despite a vibrant affordable housing industry in the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area, little research has focused specifically on the challenges in developing deeply affordable housing. This capstone project shines light on the local landscape of deeply affordable housing, through data analysis, mapping, and stakeholder engagement. Over the past decade, deeply affordable housing development in the Twin Cities metro has been concentrated in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and supply trails far behind demand. Amid a decades-long disinvestment in public housing at the federal level, non-profit developers are overwhelmingly responsible for providing deeply affordable housing. These developers operate on razor-thin margins and rely heavily upon subsidies from all levels of government, including tax credits, project based vouchers, tax increment financing, and various loans and grants. Currently available subsidy is highly competitive and falls short of adequately supporting both new developments with deeply affordable units and preserving already existing deeply affordable units. Further, as construction and operating costs rise and interest rates remain elevated, the subsidy available is stretched thinner still. With little hope for significant investment at the federal level, public entities at all levels of government in the state can enact policy interventions to increase development, which could include state sponsored vouchers, a robust state housing tax credit, inclusionary zoning, and more. To address concerns over the need for sustained investment in housing, a statewide constitutional amendment has been proposed at the legislature. This could provide needed and ongoing funding to meet the metro-wide demand for deeply affordable housing.
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    Trade-Offs in Crash Risk: A Safety Comparison of Bidirectional Bicycle Facilities
    (2024-05-01) Bragonier, Aidan; Broughman, Justin; Wilson, Maxwell
    This research examines the safety outcomes for cyclists on bidirectional bicycle facilities relative to other varieties of cycling facilities in Hennepin County, Minnesota. Using crash data for collisions involving both motor vehicles and bicycles, we determined bicycle facilities consisting only of painted lanes pose the highest risk to cyclists by a significant margin, followed by bidirectional facilities separated from motor vehicle traffic by plastic bollards. Unidirectional bicycle facilities separated by either plastic bollards or curbs and bidirectional facilities separated by curbs were found to pose lower and similar levels of risk to cyclists. Additionally, a majority of crashes occurred in intersections, demonstrating the need for carefully planned crash mitigation strategies on a case-by-case basis. Our findings indicate that when future bicycle facilities are constructed in Hennepin County, unidirectional facilities should be selected over bidirectional whenever possible, and in either case, curb separation should be provided whenever feasible, especially for bidirectional facilities.
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    A Nuclear State of Mind: Identifying the Impact of Climate Change on Nuclear Security
    (2024-05-01) Jaffery, Zulfikar; Nordhougen, Greg; Padmanabhan, Sam; Woyda, Trevor
    There is a broad assumption that nuclear energy is ready to solve climate change without a proper understanding of how climate change will impact the civilian nuclear energy industry. It is this assumption that is interrogated within the research and analysis portions of this literature review. The sweeping assumption that nuclear energy is ready for global dependence would have dangerous implications if it were wrong. Even if it is right, the process required to reconfigure the energy industry in order to prepare it for the world’s demand for energy would still necessitate incredible strides. This literature review hopes to shine a spotlight on some of the unanswered questions while offering a vignette of the industry as it currently sits today.
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    Considering the well-being of children during parental pretrial detention
    (2024-05-01) Busse, Elise; Garcia, Brandon; Grab, Heather; Schubert, Emma; Zurn, Marta
    This report comparatively examines the pretrial period and the effects of parental pretrial detainment on children in the United States and select international case studies. The research in this report comes from primary and secondary sources, including a literature review and several interviews with experts, advocates, and researchers in the field. The pretrial period is characterized by particular definition, structure, and variability in practice. Existing research thoroughly examines the impacts of long-term incarceration on both those incarcerated and their families and children. However, less attention has been paid to the pretrial period specifically. Without a standardized practice in the United States for considering the well-being of the child during their parent’s pretrial detainment, they are left at the mercy of the various legal and judicial actors in the criminal legal system. Internationally, policies that address children's best interests during the pretrial period are lacking. This report recommends a highly adaptable and layered approach to addressing the needs of parents, children, and families during the pretrial period in the United States. Recommendations include becoming a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and examining “preferred alternative” solutions, including prison nurseries and electric home monitoring.
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    Downtown Redevelopment Plan: City of Sandstone, MN
    (2024-05-01) Hutchison, Macklyn; Micevych, John; Prangley , Mallory; Walz, Ryan
    The City of Sandstone hopes to position itself as an outdoor destination town. Owing to its close proximity to ice and rock climbing at Robinson Quarry Park, whitewater rafting on the Wild and Scenic Kettle River, bicycling on the Willard Munger State Trail, and a plethora of recreational opportunities at Banning State Park, Sandstone has numerous natural and cultural assets that can be leveraged to support its downtown economy. Through interviews with visitors at the 2024 Sandstone Ice Festival and local business owners, quantitative analysis of visitor data to nearby parks, and case study analysis of economic development strategies employed by similar communities, this report identifies strategies that the City of Sandstone might employ to develop its downtown economy and its status as a recreation destination. Recommendations include broad policies or programs that the City might enact as well as site-specific land use proposals, which fall into five themes: marketing, housing and lodging, supporting local business growth and development, enhancing the downtown experience, and increasing access to downtown. In addition to this report, a digital Downtown Redevelopment Plan was also developed on ArcGIS StoryMaps for easy accessibility to the public.
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    Data to Policy Change: Creating an Interactive Dashboard to Voice Youth Perspectives
    (2024-05-01) Gjedrum, Maria; Glass, Allison; Sanchez, Antonio; Wilson, Alexandra
    The Dashboard Safety Index Project, in alignment with the 2022 YMB Annual Report and YCB’s mission, aims to provide a continual platform empowering youth to express their perspectives for policymaking. This interactive tool fosters inclusivity and responsiveness by integrating youth voices into community safety and policy discussions. The project employs a comprehensive methodology, including multiple stakeholder perspectives, regional breakdowns, and alignment with UNICEF goal areas. Challenges such as missing data and inconsistencies in data collection are addressed, while recommendations for dashboard design and data collection prioritize user engagement and youth involvement. The project not only reflects a significant step towards inclusivity but also enhances the relevance and impact of public policies concerning youth safety, ultimately serving as a practical, user-centric tool for policy-makers and the community.
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    Efficiency, Equity, and Eliminating Homelessness in Hennepin County
    (2024-05-01) Adams , Edward; Banishoraka, Yasmin; Gebeck, Madison; Goudie-Averill, Alex; Makari, Deborah
    The Coordinated Entry System (CES) is a process utilized by Hennepin County to facilitate the intake, assessment, and referral of homeless individuals and families with the highest needs to housing opportunities. This study sought to identify the challenges Hennepin County staff and service providers face when moving homeless individuals and families through CES and offer recommendations on how to increase efficiency and ensure equity in the referral process to guarantee successful housing outcomes. Through qualitative interviews with the aforementioned actors and quantitative analysis of key County reports, we make offerings around assessments, documentation, HMIS, program and referral misalignment, County and service provider goals, County-provider collaboration, and comprehensive support for clients.
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    Sand Extractive Industries and Human Rights
    (2024-05-01) Bano, Azra; Clower, David; Torres, Ivan
    Sand mining is associated with a wide range of human rights abuses, primarily through environmental degradation that undermines the rights to food, water, health, and life. Affected communities face issues relating to land tenure and governance, and often experience violations of their procedural rights to public participation, access to information, and access to justice. This report analyzes the major human rights impacts of sand extraction in the Upper Midwestern United States, Kenya, and India, incorporating the perspectives of various stakeholders and evaluating the relevant legal and regulatory structures and practices for each case. Employing a qualitative research approach informed by literature review, stakeholder and expert interviews, and media analysis, we describe the human rights situation in each location and identify major trends characterizing the issue across different human, political, and physical geographies. We conclude by offering recommendations for States, businesses, and civil society organizations to respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights threatened by sand extraction.
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    Scaling the Twin Cities Climate Resiliency Initiative
    (2024-05-01) Vergara Buitrago, Paulina; Delee, Grace; Maul, Samantha; Patle, Naivetya
    Recognizing that Minnesota’s communities are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, the Green Cities Accord (GCA) developed a program to expand the urban tree canopy in the Twin Cities area with the use of carbon offsets. By planting trees, urban communities experience the many benefits of the canopy, including rain interception, air pollution reduction, urban heat island impact reduction, and carbon sequestration. Now that the program has been established, and many trees have been planted, GCA is working to sell Carbon+ Credits from the City Forest Credits registry to corporate partners and enlisted a student team at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs to conduct market research and develop recommendations to improve the organization’s Outreach strategy. Today, offsets face many criticisms, leading many corporations to be hesitant to purchase them as part of their sustainability initiatives. To determine how GCA might better market its credits to potential partners, our capstone student team conducted a research process to learn more about the Twin Cities sustainability landscape and the current state of the carbon offset market. Building on these insights, we’ve identified an outreach strategy to better market the program to potential partners. Analyzing sustainability data from 75 MN corporations, we learned that only about a third of Twin Cities corporations had public ESG plans or reports that identified clear climate action goals. Though each business takes a unique approach to sustainability, the primary focus of ESG plans seems to be on operational energy management. Across industries, many corporations are looking across their supply chains to address Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 emissions. Business-to-business organizations also incorporated their clients’ carbon reduction efforts into ESG plans. Within ESG plans, many corporations have established carbon reduction targets or net-zero goals, with implementation timelines ranging from 2025 to 2050. With these deadlines quickly approaching, the offset market is growing and expected to continue doing so particularly the quality-focused market. Corporations and consumers increasingly demand transparency and accountability to ensure the quality of purchased offsets. To address these concerns, GCA could work to better emphasize the quality of their accredited offset registry and communicate the Carbon+ credit accounting and evaluation process. Offsets were mentioned in about 17% of plans reviewed, suggesting that some corporations are considering offsets as an essential part of their sustainability portfolio as they head toward net zero emissions. To build awareness and interest in GCA’s offset program, we recommend that GCA: ● Utilize direct interpersonal outreach, engaging corporate sustainability leaders face-to face, to articulate the unique value proposition of the Carbon+ Credit. ● Improve and refine their digital marketing approaches by employing more strategic messaging on their website, addressing common criticisms and FAQs, and implementing a more targeted approach to social media engagement. ● Leverage connections through industry coalitions and trade associations to reach a broader subsect of potential credit buyers, maximizing the total effect of marketing. ● Highlight success stories from projects and partnerships by integrating quotes, impact metrics, and third-party validation from corporate partners. As they implement some of the recommendations above, GCA must continue to track and evaluate the effects of its outreach efforts. The organization must establish SMART Goals, performance indicators, and metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of the approach.
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    Accelerating Deployment of Rural Beneficial Electrification for Residential Heating and Cooling
    (2024-05-01) Ludewig, Carl; Eastes, Jane; Coleman, Steve
    This project was conducted as a project for the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs capstone course for the Master Degree program. Great RiverEnergy (GRE), a generation and transmission (G & T) electric cooperative, requested our team to research and develop pathways for accelerating beneficial electrification for residential customers in their largely rural territory. Residential customers are directly served by twenty-seven separate distribution cooperatives that are the member-owners of GRE. The goal of this project is to develop a playbook of best practices for the adoption of beneficial electrification that can be used to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to contribute to Minnesota's 100% clean electricity standard. To reach this goal, our team gathered information from GRE, conducted an online literature review including case studies from different programs across the nation, and conducted qualitative research interviews with multiple stakeholders involved in beneficial electrification. Although we refer to beneficial electrification as a whole, this report focuses on the transition to air source heat pump (ASHP) technology for residential heating and cooling within the home. GRE requested that the format of our findings and recommendations follow the Department of Energy's (DOE) Liftoff Report outline. The DOE Liftoff Report style includes an overview of the current state of the target issue, a discussion of potential pathways for success, and an analysis of wider barriers and solutions of the issue. DOE intends the Liftoff Report to be a living document designed to be reviewed and changed with experience and changes in the environment. In this paper, we present our research and analysis, and then move into the Beneficial Electrification Liftoff Report. In this way, the Liftoff Report can be accessed as a standalone report for future use. Based on our research, we recommend and discuss three pathways for GRE to take to accelerate the adoption of beneficial electrification. We recommend all of the pathways be organized around an initial Launch Point. The Launch Point is an overarching recommendation from which the three Pathways can be implemented to accelerate rural beneficial electrification for rural residential heating and cooling.
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    Documenting and Understanding the Link between Climate Change and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Using a Case Study in Buikwe District, Uganda
    (2023-05-05) Buetow, Kristyn A; Kubrom, Selam Y; Shannon-Tamrat, Sisay E; Walkenhorst, Megan E
    The University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, in partnership with Regenerate Africa, collaborated on a study with two main objectives: 1. Conduct an assessment of Uganda´s capacity for integration of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the National Adaptation Plan processes 2. Document and understand the linkage and interconnectedness of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights/Family Planning and climate change. Researchers conducted 12 Key Informant Interviews and eight Focus Group Discussions with various expert stakeholders. The Focus Group Discussions were conducted within two communities of Ssi-Bukunja Sub-County, Buikwe District and shaped the case study model. The case study findings were then extrapolated to the larger Ugandan context by speaking to key informants in the Buikwe District and beyond. This report aims to provide Regenerate Africa and other key stakeholders with evidence on the link between climate change and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights/Family Planning in Uganda, and to apply this link to policy recommendations. The policy recommendations in this report are intended to be used in the comprehensive National Adaptation Plan for Uganda, which currently lacks a focus on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights/Family Planning. In addition, some recommendations are specific to local government, healthcare, and Civil Society Organizations. The Regenerate Africa team will disseminate this study’s findings and the findings of their larger study to policymakers and leaders of the other organizations mentioned. This report is intended to inspire more research with the inclusion of other communities throughout Uganda who have valuable insights on this topic. This project also marks the first capstone collaboration between the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs and Regenerate Africa, and encourages the continuation of this relationship.
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    Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs for Connexus Energy
    (2023-05) Komoroski, Sarah E; Hetchler, Cory J; McKenzie, Conor C; Knetsch, Carl H
    This report explores Connexus Energy's low-income spending requirement as part of Minnesota's Conservation Improvement Program (CIP). The paper reviews the current landscape of Connexus’ low-income programs and offers recommendations to increase direct spending, energy savings, and program participation. Our research consisted of a mix of general literature review, demographic data analysis, creation of spatial maps, and direct interviews with Connexus’ partners and other relevant organizations. We emphasize the importance of dedicated low-income programs in overcoming the barriers that prevent low-income households from engaging in energy efficiency programs. The report focuses on single-family households, which constitute the majority of homes in Connexus' service territory. We recommend Connexus pursue a comprehensive home energy audit program, build more robust relationships with Community Action Agencies, and raise the visibility of all their low-income programs. By implementing these recommendations, Connexus can meet their low-income spending requirement while improving the quality of life for their most vulnerable members.