Community Equity

Project — Community investment pilot program in Washington, DC

Client and/or collaborators — A community nonprofit in DC and a national philanthropic organization

Isabel Yu

Isabel Yu

Matt Leiwant

Matt Leiwant

Richard Mobley

Richard Mobley 

Cullen Bryant

Cullen Bryant

Goal

Washington, DC, is experiencing some of the fastest rates of gentrification in the country, leading to the continued displacement of Black and low-income residents who have experienced decades of disinvestment in their communities while sharing in few of the benefits from real estate development. A national philanthropic organization is partnering with a local nonprofit to test a pilot community investment program that would redirect profits from a development project back into the impacted community via direct payments to residents. The Harrison Institute is evaluating different ways to structure the pilot program in order to maximize community ownership and public participation in the process.

Student work

Matt, Isabel, Richard, and Cullen analyzed options for structuring the investment vehicle, including the mechanisms by which funds could flow from a development project to impacted community members. Their work included:

  • Recommending a governance structure for the pilot program, drawing on examples of community investment models in other jurisdictions and applicable nonprofit governance laws
  • Analyzing different forms of payment options, distribution criteria, and eligibility considerations for program beneficiaries
  • Surveying different community investment models for distributing payments to residents, including opportunities to incorporate public participation through a community advisory group

Health & Food

Project — Increasing access to oral health care in Washington, DC

Clients and/or collaborators — DC Pediatric Oral Health Coalition, Pew Dental Campaign, DC Oral Health Coalition, Federal Trade Commission, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), Parents, Patients

Allie Gershman

Allie Gershman

Vyasa Babbu

Vyasa Babbu

Goal

The oral health team is working to expand dental hygienists’ scope of practice in Washington, DC, to make oral healthcare more accessible and affordable in underserved communities, with a focus on Healthcare Professional Shortage Areas such as Wards 7 and 8. To do this, the Harrison Institute is developing legislation that would allow dental hygienists to help patients prevent oral health diseases without a prior visit to a licensed dentist.

Student work

Vyasa and Allie compared current scope of practice statutes in states around the country. Their work included:

  • Analyzing barriers to access to oral healthcare in Washington, DC
  • Comparing and contrasting DC’s dental hygienist scope of practice laws to those in other states
  • Researching the impact of expanded dental hygienist scope of practice in other states and countries
  • Summarizing their research findings in writing to make the case for change
  • Evaluating potential allies and opponents in a legislative campaign
  • Creating legislative text to expand DC’s scope of practice laws

Food Worker Rights

Project — Supporting food workers with university purchasing power

Clients and/or collaborators — Just Purchasing Consortium (JPC)

Andrea Khattabi

Andrea Khattabi

Elisha Mvundura

Elisha Mvundura

Ainsley MacLeod

Ainsley MacLeod

 

Goal

The JPC is a consortium of universities, worker organizations, and student groups with the goal of improving working conditions in the poultry industry using the purchasing power of universities. In collaboration with workers, the JPC is creating a set of worker protection standards for universities to adopt and apply to their food buying. JPC will start with poultry workers due to rampant health and labor violations in poultry plants across the country both during and before the Covid-19 pandemic. In the future, the consortium will extend beyond poultry to workers in other food sectors and beyond universities to other major food purchasers.

Student work

Andrea and Elisha helped develop the JPC’s purchasing code that will define worker protections. They analyzed state extortion and retaliation laws to assess the current protections from threats against undocumented workers based on immigration status. They also worked with the members of the JPC to develop its operations:

  • Drafting memoranda on the level of protections for undocumented workers
  • Creating shareable infographics on worker protections
  • Drafting language for the JPC’s code of conduct
  • Presenting findings to donors and external partners

Ainslie worked on potential legal constraints that the JPC faces. In particular, she analyzed ways to assure that federal labor laws do not preempt standards for food purchasing by public universities.

Trade

Project — Advancing climate and labor goals

Clients and/or collaborators — The BlueGreen Alliance (BGA)

Elizabeth Butscher

Elizabeth Butscher

Melissa McCafferty

Melissa McCafferty

Clark Orr

Clark Orr

Xeutao Wang

Xeutao Wang

 Goal

The Blue Green Alliance is a coalition of labor unions and environmental organizations that works to address environmental challenges in ways that create good jobs. The Harrison Institute is supporting BGA in developing policies that address climate change and promote fair labor practices.

Student work

Elizabeth worked on developing a “Buy Fair” plan that would expand workers’ rights by encouraging fair and safe working conditions and increasing the transparency of federal supply chains.

Melissa examined domestic user fees for carbon emissions and international tariffs to prevent carbon leakage.

Clark assessed the potential to use the GATT’s environmental exception to justify “blue-green” policies that advance both climate and labor goals.

Xuetao worked on the legality and practicability of imposing carbon border adjustments. Their work included:

  • Drafting memoranda on the definition of forced labor under U.S. law, the authority of the President to impose carbon fees, and the potential to impose carbon border adjustments without a corresponding domestic carbon price
  • Presenting overall work product to peers in preparation for a larger client meeting
  • Recommending courses of action for BGA in client meetings

Project — Reform of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)

Clients and/or collaborators — The Columbia Center for Sustainable Investment (CCSI) and Georgetown’s Center for the Advancement of the Rule of Law in the Americas (CAROLA) 

Mine Orer

Mine Orer

Goal

ISDS was initially created to depoliticize disputes regarding foreign investment and provide an international forum for adjudication between investors and host countries. However, the prospect of ISDS claims has affected developing countries’ ability to regulate in a variety of areas including tobacco controls, mining permits, hazardous waste regulations, and renewable energy policies. The Harrison Institute and its partners are working to assist developing countries that are participating in negotiations to reform ISDS in the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Working Group III by identifying reform options that would limit their exposure to ISDS claims.

Student work

Mine focused on the viability of exhausting domestic remedies as a policy option to limit private investor’s access to ISDS in the event of a dispute. Her work included:

  • Analyzing the current state of jurisprudence and problems associated with implementing exhaustion of domestic remedies as a reform option
  • Recommending specific treaty language to be inserted in international investment agreements (IIAs) that address the current problems with the implementation of exhaustion of domestic remedies in ISDS
  • Presenting her findings and recommendations to collaborators.