C2C Scholars

2024 – 2025


Policy Fellows

Seed Grant Recipients

Policy Fellows

NNeka Allen-Harrison

Policy Partners:
Darlene Flynn, Department of Race & Equity, City of Oakland
Alameda County EMS Corps
Motivating Innovators
New Door Ventures

Bay Area Black Voices: Exploring the Experiences of Black Workers in the San Francisco Area

The San Francisco Bay Area is known for its diversity and tech innovation, attracting skilled workers worldwide. However, despite the region’s reputation for employment diversity, data shows that Black and Latino residents make up the majority of low-income earners. Racial and gender disparities compound this issue, resulting in a significant impact on social detriments of health. Recent quantitative research into employment trends in the San Francisco Bay Area has found that discriminatory hiring practices largely contribute to income inequality in the region. Therefore, this study aims to expand on previous work by examining the experiences of Black or African American job seekers between 18 and 65 who are currently part of the San Francisco Bay Area workforce. The current projects’ continued exploration of the Black workforce in the San Francisco Bay Area will help inform the creation of a dashboard that curates job-seeker experiences in the region. Another objective of this study is to investigate how job seekers use the employment dashboard and the benefits it offers in terms of their job-seeking strategy. The results of this qualitative research have implications for creating and updating policies and strategies to eradicate income inequality and workplace discrimination. Further exploration for developing a dashboard for tracking Black job-seeker experiences can offer significant data for prioritizing legal safeguards and requirements for racial equity results-based accountability within San Francisco Bay Area workforce industries.

Miki Hong

Policy Partner:
Guido Persicone, Planning Manager, City of East Palo Alto

Evaluation of Hayward, California’s Local Tobacco Control

Miki is leading an evaluation project in the intersection of public health and urban planning. I currently propose to integrate evaluation models into emerging comprehensive plans in resource poor communities to encourage tobacco control. I will partner with the City of Hayward, California to evaluate local tobacco control and to identify population trends in response to smoke-free multifamily ordinance passage as directed by their comprehensive plan. The City of Hayward has updated its comprehensive plan to include an Environmental Justice Element and is committed to protecting the health of its historically marginalized residents.
This partnership with the City of Hayward aims to evaluate the urban plan’s smoke-free housing language and any pursuant outputs and outcomes, whether it’s ordinance passage, heightened community awareness of the harms of secondhand smoke as well as morbidity data. Our investigation aims to build capacity for local tobacco control by evaluating comprehensive plans, ensuring available metrics to indicate meaningful progress on tobacco control goals.

Cara Michell

Policy Partner:
Shanna Sabio, Co-Founder & Co-Director, GrowHouse NYC

Resurrecting Black Spatial Imaginaries: Participatory Mapping at the Flatbush African Burial Ground

In partnership with Shanna Sabio of the Brooklyn community arts organization GrowHouse, Cara Michell will facilitate a participatory mapping workshop series and research process rooted in the legacy of the Flatbush African Burial Ground. As part of Cara’s ongoing project, Black Psychogeographies, these maps will document spatial stories about Black memory, history, and future visions for the site. During the academic year, Cara will work with Boston teens and Brooklyn participants to analyze the mapping process and develop a youth participatory mapping toolkit. These community-based collaborations will lead to an academic publication that offers mechanisms for policymakers and urban designers to interpret artistic output as data that can inform culturally sensitive planning decisions.

Louisa Smith

Policy Partner:
Maine Women’s Lobby

Evaluating the Impact of Maine’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Law on Postpartum Individuals

This project pilots a survey to evaluate the impact of Maine’s new Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) law on postpartum individuals. Recognizing the law’s potential to enhance health and economic outcomes for families, particularly in the context of Maine’s demographic shifts and rural health disparities, this study aims to inform rulemaking and ensure equitable benefit distribution. The pilot will develop research tools and methods for a larger-scale assessment, focusing on decision-making regarding leave, healthcare access, and health outcomes. Collaboration with the Maine Women’s Lobby and a diverse Community Advisory Board will ensure the survey reflects varied community needs and supports effective policy implementation.

Suzanna Walters

Policy Partners:
Reproductive Equity Now, Boston, MA
Access Reproductive Justice, Oakland, CA 

Reproductive Justice Research Collaborative (RJRC)

Working with C2C, the Reproductive Justice Research Collaborative (RJRC) will build on previous work and hold two gatherings with community partners. Hosted by our two anchor partners – one in Boston and one in Oakland – and held at our Boston and Mills campuses, the workshops will develop proactive policy ideas through a process called Appreciative Inquiry (AI). AI is a collective endeavor that builds community while simultaneously producing concrete strategic plans. In addition to developing a collective reproductive justice policy research agenda, the RJRC and its partners will also evaluate the AI process itself as a grassroots policy development tool.

Michael Wilczek

Policy Partner:
Jobs for Maine Graduates

Creating Awareness of Life Science Careers for Rural Communities in Maine

Rural communities face a growing number of challenges like limited exposure to STEM opportunities, constrained funding, and less visibility. Our proposal, Creating Awareness of Life Science Careers for Rural Communities in Maine, uses augmented reality technology to help high school students throughout Maine understand biological concepts and techniques that are key to life science careers such as: polymerase chain reaction, protein quantification assays, and gel electrophoresis. The embedded partnership with Jobs for Maine Graduates will illustrate how these classroom fundamentals build onramps to STEM careers and support Maine’s comprehensive economic development plan to recruit and retain talent.

Seed Grant Recipients

Ashley Adams

Policy Partners:
Angela Bates, Executive Director, Nicodemus Historical Society
Gregory K. Eads, Superintendent Nicodemus National Historical Site
Establishing the Nicodemus Descendant Genealogy Database

This project involves creating a community-engaged plan for a new Genealogy Database for the historic Black town, Nicodemus, Kansas. In emphasizing the importance of cultural roots and identity, Dr. Adams’ research embodies the ethos of nurturing deep-seated roots in historic Black towns. This project engages Nicodemus descendants in reparative heritage preservation by employing innovative engagement strategies. In developing the database plan, the project will focus on digitizing historical records and establishing a comprehensive model for African American descendant engagement, serving as a blueprint for other historic Black settlements.

Omar Badreldin

Policy Partners:
Stephanie Goetz, Statistics Canada
Reza GhasemAghaei, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)

Analyzing Existing Data to Justify Recent Policy Changes in Zoning in Ontario, Canada

This project develops a series of AI workshops for high school students and teachers. Graduating students will collaborate with the Statistics Canada team in Toronto to apply their skills to contemporary public policy challenges. Statistics Canada will provide the students with large datasets pertaining to city planning, climate change, and public sentiment patterns. The students will apply their learning and perform analysis and data predictions. VentureKids, the key public policy partner in Toronto, is a not-for-profit organization that serves marginalized kids in the Greater Toronto Region. VentureKids will help magnify the impact of this project, and ensure its sustainability beyond this project duration.

Katherine Hazen

Policy Partner:
Sergeant Detective Marc Sullivan, Boston Police Department Human Trafficking Unit

Boston Human Exploitation and Trafficking (HEAT) Evaluability Assessment

For ten years, people who are unhoused and suffering from substance use disorders have lived at the intersection of Mass. and Cass in tents and temporary structures. In 2023, city officials cleared the tents, displacing hundreds of people due to concerns about overdoses, violence, and commercial sex. Commercial sex presents unique challenges for service providers. The BPD partnered with a clinician-peer team to establish the Boston Human Exploitation and Trafficking (HEAT) program with the goal of addressing barriers to working with women engaged in commercial sex and substance use. HEAT ensures health and safety by building autonomy and relational trust to thereby improve institutional trust. This year, we will conduct an evaluability assessment of Boston HEAT to create a comprehensive evaluation plan and apply for funding.

Brianna Keefe-Oates

Policy Partners:
Kimika Ross, MPP, Co-Founder & Co-Executive Director, Tides for Reproductive Freedom
Josie Pinto, MPH, Co-Founder of New Hampshire Reproductive Freedom Fund

Out-of-state travel for abortion in New England: Identifying support strategies

With increasingly restrictive abortion access in many states, more people are traveling to New England for abortion care. The long-term goal of this project is to identify strategies to improve access to abortion for those traveling for care. In this initial phase of the project we will interview abortion care workers in New England about their experiences supporting people traveling from out of state for care. Findings will be shared in a meeting with community partners to discuss further research needs and identify strategies to increase access. The research team includes Northeastern researcher Brianna Keefe-Oates, Josie Pinto, Executive Director of the Reproductive Freedom Fund of New Hampshire, and Kimika Ross, Co-Executive Director of Tides for Reproductive Freedom.


John Lowrey

Policy Partner:
Amy Headings, PhD, Director of Research and Nutrition, MidOhio Food Collective

The Health Quality, Cost, and Clinical Productivity Benefit of a Food Referral Program: Building on Existing Evidence from the MidOhio Farmacy

Healthcare-hunger relief partnership models of care link primary care clinics to community-based social service agencies like food banks or food pantries. Prior research has examined the barriers and facilitators of referral compliance in clinic-based food referral programs, however, these factors complicate causal effect estimates of program evaluation studies. Compliance, defined as making at least one visit to the food pantry after referral, is notoriously low in these types of programs and usually range from 0-15%. The seed grant will build on existing empirical analyses of the MidOhio Farmacy program—from a community collaboration in central Ohio—to (1) optimize programmatic features and better identify treatment effects, and (2) aid to other Feeding America member Food Banks with a vested interest in healthcare partnerships.

Rebekah E. Moore

Policy Partners:
Boston Public Health Commission
Boston Office of Arts and Culture

Black Artists Creating a Culture of Health through Arts-in-Health Collaborations

Ethnomusicologist Dr. Rebekah E. Moore and arts activist Aziza Robinson-Goodnight’s research explores how involving Black artists in public health initiatives can mitigate racialized health disparities in intensely segregated cities. To scale their pilot study to a citywide intervention, they need policy partners in public health and arts and culture. With C2C Seed Funding, they will establish research partnerships bridging the missions of a public health commission, which tracks health outcomes data and sets health equity priorities, and office of arts and culture, which coordinates grant opportunities and sets arts equity priorities, to mobilize policy advocacy for future arts-based public health research and interventions.

Deborah A. Ramirez

Jail to Jobs (J2J) Pipeline Project

The Jail to Jobs Pipeline (J2J) Project, led by Northeastern Law Professor Deborah Ramirez, works to resolve recidivism while resolving the nation’s labor shortage. Professor Ramirez and Northeastern’s Criminal Justice Task Force have successfully designed the necessary infrastructure in Massachusetts to create the J2J Pipeline. Throughout Massachusetts, there are currently 19 Community Justice Supports Centers (CSJC). The J2J Pipeline would ensure that among the resources provided by the CSJCs are those that lead to obtaining a job.

Katherine Simmonds

Policy Partner:
Zel Bowman-Laberge, Co-chair, Ad Hoc Park Committee, Select Board of the Town of Thomaston, Maine

Generating Evidence-Based Guidelines for Green Space Access and Design

Across the United States, people in rural areas are older, sicker, and poorer than those in urban areas. The roots of these inequities are multi-factorial, and include higher rates of poverty, lack of insurance, and less access to health care. Parks are increasingly recognized as contributors to positive health outcomes, and as a type of healthcare infrastructure in and of themselves. This grant will support further collaboration between Northeastern and the Town of Thomaston, in rural Knox County, Maine, in redesigning the historic 15-acre Green to become a more inviting, well-utilized outdoor park that promotes community health and wellness.

Juliana Spahr

Policy Partner:
Syd Staiti, Executive Director, Small Press Traffic

Who Gets to Be a Writer?: Studying Equity in Contemporary US Literature

“Who Gets to Be a Writer,” led by Yakov Bart (D’Amore-McKim School of Business), Samsun Knight (University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management), Juliana Spahr (Mills College), and Stephanie Young (Mills College), is at once a foundational inquiry into the mechanics of literary production and an attempt to better understand the historical trajectories of authorship, prestige, institutional forces, publishing, and circulation that have a significant impact on both literary aesthetics and access across the late twentieth century into the present. We are partnering with Small Press Traffic (a Bay Area literary organization) and will be examining the entry paths for writers who are not part of networks that come with elite institutional ties. We are interested in discovering what other networks may enable these writers, and what writers and literary institutions of all sizes may have to learn from them.

Carol Theokary

Policy Partner:
Alliance for Community Development

The Equity Toll of “Business as Usual” during the Pandemic: Can we do better?

Extant literature shows evidence of better access to financing for small businesses with existing ties to financial institutions. This study investigates whether private sector enterprises that utilize these approaches potentially contribute to the growing inequities between the affluent vs. underserved consumer groups. Using the example of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) during the COVID-19 pandemic, we uncover that the allocation of scarce resources by private companies did not serve the pressing needs of small business owners in socio-economically disadvantaged communities. Our results establish the importance of a timely governmental intervention and have interesting equity implications that offer prescriptive guidance to marketers and public policy makers.

Jane Yamashiro

Policy Partner:
Yuko Yamauchi, Executive Director, Okinawa Association of America (OAA)

Okinawan Community Writing Project: Decolonizing Culture through Research Justice

With the long-term policy goal of gaining recognition as an ethnic group on the U.S. Census and collecting demographic data about this unrecognized Indigenous population, this community-led project promotes recognition of “Okinawans” as an ethnic group in the United States through the creation of publishable materials on Okinawan culture and history. Okinawans are typically subsumed as “Japanese” despite their claims of ethnic difference and a pre-contact history as an independent kingdom. Dr. Jane H. Yamashiro is working with the Okinawa Association of America (OAA), a non-profit community organization based in California, to create a decolonizing infrastructure for training community members to research and write the OAA’s community-produced book on Okinawan culture and community in Los Angeles. This project may be a model for other underrepresented and marginalized groups as they try to reclaim lost cultural knowledge and histories – and eventually gain social recognition as ethnic groups and Indigenous Peoples.

Join our email list!