Capstone Overview for Potential Clients

The Capstone is the culminating project for candidates in the Master of Public Administration and Master of Public Policy degree programs at the George Washington University’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration.  This program is a rigorous interdisciplinary course of study focused on problems, policy processes, policy alternatives, and solutions. It is geared to developing students’ skills in critical thinking, policy analysis, data collection and interpretation, and problem solving.

Completed by student teams in the last semester of the program (generally as one of up to three classes), the Capstone provides an opportunity for students to synthesize their academic and professional experiences through a substantial and relevant pro bono project with an organizational partner/client, for example, a nonprofit or government agency. Over the course of 8-10 weeks, students act as consultants to the client, conducting extensive research and analysis, providing valuable assessments, evaluations, reports and recommendations to organizations working locally and around the world. Student teams present the results of their work to the client at the end of the semester -- early December for Fall Capstones and late April/early May for Spring Capstones.

In the past, Capstone teams have taken on a diverse array of projects, including conducting program and policy impact evaluations, consulting on communications and management strategies, assessing the potential for program expansion and analyzing alternative policy approaches to specific issues.

Students form their own teams, usually based on shared interests, find their own clients and independently negotiate their own projects.  Faculty do share with students information provided by organizations interested in hosting capstone team, and do provide guidance to assure that the projects meet capstone standards.  

Because the teams must work in a limited timeframe, it is important that the client and team agree on a topic of importance and interest to both the client and the team, making sure that the task is suitable for the time period and resources available. Constructing a mutually advantageous and feasible research effort is often an iterative process that may evolve even after the agreement on an initial scope of work. 

Capstone teams produce a professional, comprehensive written report and oral presen-tation for the client. Recent studies have often been evaluations of a current program or policy’s effectiveness or assessments of the relative merits of proposed policy initiatives.  However, capstone projects have encompassed an eclectic and diverse range of other relevant topics and approaches as well.

A Sampling of Recent Capstone Clients Include:

  • Alexandria (Virginia) Gang Prevention Mentoring Partnership
  • Alliance for Consumer Protection, Inhalant Abuse Prevention Program
  • American Cancer Society
  • American Red Cross
  • Americorps/NCCC
  • Anacostia Coming Together
  • Annandale Christian Community for Action
  • Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team
  • Arlington County Government
  • Bethany House of Northern Virginia
  • Bread for the City
  • Bright Beginnings
  • Budget Advisory Council, Arlington County School Board
  • Calvary Baptist Church
  • Center for Law and Social Policy
  • CHF International
  • Children First for Oregon
  • Coalition for Non-Profit Housing and Economic Development
  • Coastal States Organization
  • College Summit
  • Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Communities-in-Transition
  • Community Ministry of Montgomery County
  • Congressional Budget Office
  • Council of the Great City Schools
  • Creative Associates
  • D.C. Central Kitchen
  • D.C. Chamber of Commerce
  • D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation
  • D.C. City Government
  • D.C. Council Committee on Human Services
  • D.C. Department of Health
  • D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation
  • D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute
  • D.C. Office of the City Administrator
  • Defense Orientation Conference Association
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • Equal Rights Center
  • Fight for Children
  • Freedom House
  • Groundwork Anacostia
  • HandsOn Greater D.C. Cares
  • Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive
  • Hispanic Committee of Virginia
  • HUBZone
  • Institute for Public-Private Partnerships
  • Inter-American Development Bank
  • International Housing Coalition
  • Justice Ventures International
  • Latino Economic Development Corp.
  • League of American Bicyclists
  • Lupus Foundation of America (DC Chapter)
  • Manna, Inc.
  • Martha’s Table
  • Mentoring TodayMontgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy
  • Metropolitan Council of Governments
  • Montgomery County [Maryland] Planning Department, Maryland National-Capital Park and Planning Commission
  • National Academy of Public Administration
  • National Association of Community Health Centers
  • National Capital Planning Commission
  • National Governors’ Association
  • National Guard
  • National Highway Transportation Safety Administration
  • National Human Services Assembly
  • National League of Cities
  • National Women's Law Center
  • NOMA Business Improvement District
  • Northern Virginia Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters
  • Northwest Settlement House
  • Office of Policy Analysis, District of Columbia City Council
  • Partnership for America’s Economic Success
  • Partnership for Public Service’s Annenberg Leadership Institute
  • Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Reach for College!
  • Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington
  • SERVE, Inc.
  • Solar Energy Industries Association
  • Special Olympics
  • SportsChallenge
  • STAR Communities
  • Suited for Change
  • Sunlight Foundation
  • Teachers without Borders
  • The Brookings Institution
  • The National Council for Public-Private Partnerships
  • Urban Institute
  • USAID
  • U.S. Coast Guard
  • U.S. Department of Defense
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • U.S. Department of Labor Veterans Employment Training Service (VETS)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Green Building Council
  • U.S. Department of State
  • Virginia Rural Health Cooperative
  • VISTA
  • Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
  • World Bank Group
  • Young Invincibles