By Matthew Kredell

For USC Price School of Public Policy students Annalee Habstritt, Peter Hach, John McMannis and Stacie Mills, their Master of Public Administration capstone project – exploring the emerging field of middle school career expo programs – was an opportunity to make a tangible social contribution. The client for the project was Pathways2Possibilities (P2P), which runs career expos for eighth graders and at-risk youth, ages 16 to 24, in Mississippi.

The four MPA online students authored a 167-page report, which employed a mixed-methods approach to summarize the qualities of career expo programs targeted at middle school students nationwide, determine a common set of emerging practices in the field and then identify the best performance measures to quantify effectiveness. The group’s work earned them the Haynes Award in recognition of the most outstanding MPA capstone project.

Having witnessed the quality of work by her own capstone peers, P2P’s Co-Director Paige Roberts, an alumna of the USC Price MPA program, was inspired to bring the capstone project to USC Price.

Roberts believes the capstone played a key role in P2P’s recent increase in funding. “The quality of the report the capstone team gave us was so good that it helped [provide us the data] to then convince the legislature to increase our funding,” Roberts said. “When we showed the report to some of our workforce and education partners in the state of Mississippi, they were all very impressed with the recommendations.”

“The students developed and delivered an outstanding product that provided the client a tool box for them to pull from in furthering their mission,” said John Calanni, USC Price adjunct associate professor who served as the faculty lead for the project. “Academically, it was such a good report because of the outstanding methodological approaches and professional-looking deliverables that were clear, and easy to understand and implement.”

Originally posted at USC Price News