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In keeping with Carolina’s Making Connections Curriculum, UNC Public Policy’s experiential education programs offer students structured, active learning opportunities that invite them to integrate and apply their academic knowledge and skills in a real-world policy environment.

Opportunities include:

Students are encouraged to secure an internship as part of the General Education experiential education requirement. Students who wish to complete a public policy internship can enroll in PLCY 293. Students may receive academic credit for an approved internship if it provides an academically relevant policy research-related experience, but PLCY 293 does not count as elective credit toward the public policy major. For PLCY 293, interested students should review the PLCY 293 application and PLCY 293 syllabus and contact Dr. Anna Krome-Lukens prior to the start of the internship. The Duncan MacRae Jr. Public Policy Internship Grant aims to support internship opportunities for public policy majors and to defer some of the costs associated with engaging in unpaid summer internships.

The Clinic (PLCY 393) offers an opportunity for students to identify and solve a public policy problem for a non-profit or government organization. Enrollment requires instructor permission but is open to undergraduates from all majors and minors in the College of Arts and Sciences. Working in small consulting teams with faculty assistance, students engage with non-profit or government organizations and learn how to use their knowledge and skills to propose solutions to complex problems. The Clinic provides an excellent preparation for the senior Capstone or a valuable stand-alone experience. The course is an APPLES Service-Learning Course. Questions about the program should be directed to Elizabeth Sasser, Interim Director of Experiential Education.

The Intersector (PLCY 394) aims to empower undergraduates to explore ways that local public, private, and non-profit sectors collaborate to address problems that cannot be solved by one sector alone. Students will utilize the Intersector toolkit to gain an understanding of how to diagnose, design, implement, and assess successful cross sector collaborations.



The Capstone course (PLCY 698) is the culminating experience of the UNC Public Policy undergraduate major and is required for all seniors except those who complete an honors thesis. Students should register for the course in the fall or spring of their senior year. The course provides a bridge between policy analysis as it is studied in an academic setting and policy analysis as it is practiced in the workplace. Students work in small teams to produce actionable, client-centered, public policy research for a non-profit or government organization. Over the course of a semester, student teams meet with their client, develop a work plan, research relevant policy issues, collect relevant data, identify and analyze policy options, and produce a final professional-level report that includes specific recommendations for action. Students also develop skills in team work, leadership, communication, professional etiquette, and time management. Questions about the program should be directed to Elizabeth Sasser.



The world is an increasingly unpredictable and complex place with many challenges that demand new, impactful solutions. Social entrepreneurs, driven by their passion to affect change, apply the mindset, processes, tools and techniques of entrepreneurship as a force for good in addressing seemingly intractable social problems. The most successful social entrepreneurs blend optimism and compassion with dogged determination in the relentless pursuit of creating sustainable results.

Designing for Impact (PLCY435) gives students the opportunity to apply the entrepreneurial process – the process of opportunity recognition, understanding needs, curating resources and building teams – to solve social or environmental issues. This course is a highly interactive and experiential one where novel insights and truly creative models are sure to emerge by combining multiple approaches and disciplines. It is designed for you to go from ideas to venture by getting out of the building – not by staying in the classroom! Questions about the course should be directed to Melissa Carrier, Adjunct Professor of the Practice.




Capstone Projects

Click the photo to read more about how Public Policy students are making a difference.


Detailed descriptions of recent projects: 







For a detailed description of 2016-2017 projects, click here.

Campus Partnerships

Carolina Center for Public Service and Bryan Fellows

The Bryan Fellows program at UNC offers student teams the opportunity to create, launch, and operate their own venture to alleviate and issue, problem, or concern in a particular area. Bryan Fellows are provided the seed money needed to launch their venture as well as leadership training, business mentorship, and access to community partners to ensure the venture’s sustainability. UNC Public Policy partners with the Bryan Fellows by offering guidance in the student’s team leadership and growth.

  • As the first part of the Bryan Fellows program, students are enrolled in PLCY 130, a course in which students learn leadership tools, smart business practices, critical thinking, and engagement techniques with community partners. This class connects Bryan Fellows directly with a mentor to work with during the first semester of their new venture launch.

The UNC Roosevelt Institute is a student-run think tank. It is a place for UNC students to discuss community issues and formulate responses to them. Roosevelt also provides a platform for students to find a broader audience for ideas they care about. Our chapter is a proud member of the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network, a national network of more than 85 campus chapters at colleges and universities across the United States.


Student research at the UNC Roosevelt has been published widely, primarily in the Roosevelt Institute’s national 10 Ideas series. Our members engage in the policy process in a wide variety of ways, including writing for national blogs and publishing white papers that address specific issues.

10 Ideas 2019: A Journal of Student-Generated Ideas from Across the Roosevelt Network


The UNC chapter strives to put its progressive policy principles into action to achieve real, tangible benefits for our community. We work with the local government, the UNC administration, non-profits, and other student groups to implement policy ideas and accomplish goals.


The UNC chapter meets as one conjunct group every week to discuss relevant public policy, plan impact projects within our community, and assist members with their research. Our executive board is as follows:

Get Involved

The UNC Roosevelt Institute is not limited to public policy majors or those with public policy experience. We welcome any UNC students who are passionate about making a difference in their community or state. To learn more about the UNC Roosevelt Institute, please email one of the co-presidents.

The Kenan-Biddle Partnership, funded by the William R. Kenan Charitable Trust and The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, offered grants up to $5,000 to accepted project proposals that enhance the intellectual life at both universities by strengthening established or encouraging new collaborations between Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Partnership awarded approximately $50,000 in grant funds annually.


The Kenan-Biddle Partnership awarded seed grants to proposals that enhanced the intellectual life at both universities by strengthening established or encouraging new collaborations between Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Each team was required to have at least one student member currently enrolled at UNC and Duke.


The Daily Tar Heel wrote about the Kenan-Biddle Partnership in “Despite rivalry, UNC and Duke students work together to empower community.”


2021 Kenan Biddle Grant Recipients

B3 Coffee is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that serves as a platform of positive visibility and community connection for adults with and without disabilities. We extend meaningful opportunities for vocational skill-building, civic engagement, and friendship. Prior to COVID-19, B3 Coffee operated as a pop-up coffee stand serving a variety of community venues in the Triangle area (i.e. conferences, co-working spaces, special events). In response to the pandemic, we transitioned to remote community-building as we develop plans for growth. Post COVID-19, we hope to re-emerge as an inclusive employer with a free-standing location.

Mission: Creating a space where everyone belongs, one cup at a time.

Water scarcity threatens the health of over 2.7 billion people worldwide every year—a humanitarian crisis that is especially pronounced in highly populated territories, directly traumatizing the civilians’ health outcomes. In India, diarrheal disease is a leading cause of death and a direct result of inadequate water access. The findings of a UNC-CH URCT-funded research project led by our team’s Co-President, Mehal Churiwal, and the auxiliary on-campus consultation at Duke University and UNC-CH have enabled us to take the culturally-familiar concept of the hand pump and design a cost-effective plan to assemble and maintain Afridev Hand pumps in impoverished villages severely impacted by waterborne diseases. The mission of our 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Healthy Hands Initiative, is to apply the discoveries from our online and fieldwork research to create high-impact, low cost solutions for diarrheal disease in the Bokaro district of Jharkhand, India—whose clean water supplies consistently fall short—by installing and maintaining hand pumps that will supply to villagers 24/7, year-round access to potable water. The Kenan-Biddle Partnership will equip our group to (1) initiate our pilot project in the village of Lalpur by December of 2020 by subsidizing construction and repair costs, (2) begin collecting evaluations from local beneficiaries and our community partner to gauge public health impacts for up to a decade, (3) launch an international office to better facilitate future project management, and (4) optimize and expand our approach into neighboring villages with similar need. Our project will enforce a lasting systematic impact, ensuring that thousands of locals will not have to draw polluted water and suffer devastating health outcomes.

At LiRA we develop technologies that build a world where all communication is realized. Our first product is lip-reading software designed to empower voiceless individuals and advance the standard of healthcare. LiRA’s innovation is built on advancements in computer vision, machine learning, and natural language processing. LiRA’s software operates hardware-agnostic across devices (i.e. iPhone, tablets). Facial motion captured by the device’s video camera is effectively “lip-read” by our software’s novel neural network. What would have been a lost message is then presented as near-time text and audio via the device. LiRA’s technology aims to restore lost patient autonomy by creating a more equitable and inclusive environment. Downstream effects of more natural, complete communication look to improve medical and psychological outcomes, reduce healthcare costs, and improve clinician work efficiency.


Mission: Scholarship is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides free and accessible college and scholarship application guidance to underserved students. Our organization emphasizes flexibility, personalization, and comprehensive planning in our approach to college and scholarship application counseling.

School for a Village is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to bridging the gap in science and technology education through need-specific support. We work with secondary schools in Kenya and India to promote digital inclusion and quality education. Some examples of our past projects include providing fully-furnished science laboratories to schools and hosting design thinking bootcamps. Currently, we are launching a peer-to-peer program, where students who are struggling academically at lower-resourced schools will connect to and learn from students at well-resourced schools in Kenya.”


2020 Kenan Biddle Grant Recipients

According to the Meta‐analysis of 5 Decades of U.S. Draw‐A‐Scientist Studies, among children who are asked to draw a scientist, only 28% draw a women scientist. In 1977 the percentage was less than 1%, so there has been a significant increase; however, the stereotypes are still apparent. This especially is a problem for girls that cannot find role models in the field and fell excluded from these fields. Pink STREAM’s goal is to educate, motivate, empower, and inspire women and minorities in Science, Technology, Robotics, Engineering, Arts, and Math and get rid of the stereotypes. The steps towards this goal are taken by educating K-5 students about STREAM topics and a diverse range of role models through courses in the community, books, youtube videos, trips, social media and more. Website:

Students will organize a curriculum for K-12 children about topics including Arduino, Scratch, Snap Circuits, Sphero, Image Processing, and inspirational topics such as women scientists. Next steps included in the project are publishing activity books, organizing a Women Scientist art contest, and creating an app for coding education.

The team aims to inspire the next generation of Black female STEM leaders by developing a continuous passion for STEM careers from an early age and maintaining interest throughout middle and high school. Through experiential activities and workshops that excites, engages, and enriches, our vision is to increase STEM awareness and involvement through a unique, hands-on approach. By creating a STEM community for Black STEM professional women, the South Carolina STEM initiative works to increase their representation and retainment.

OCEANS stands for outreach, community engagement, advocacy and non-discriminatory support. We are a support and advocacy group for adolescents on their weight management journeys. We empower adolescents through three different areas of programming: socials, an annual 5k and policy-based advocacy projects. Melissa Carrier serves as our faculty advisor and we are honored to receive funding through the Kenan Biddle Partnership. Through our grant, we will be able to begin developing an app that will help us further our reach nationally. Funding from the Kenan Biddle Partnership will also assist us in planning and hosting our first annual 5k, which raises money for continued obesity research.

The Wajir start-up kit project aims to support and spur business in Wajir County (Northern Kenya). Our mission is to provide the necessary support and resources to students of technical schools. These students, disenfranchised by the community, lack the business infrastructure to build upon their skills. By providing the startup kits and mentorship to successfully set up their own businesses, this project will give young people from the county an opportunity to earn an income while also providing the necessary services to the community. Funding from the Kenan Biddle Partnership (KBP) will assist us in creating a network of support that will greatly impact the Wajirian Somali community. KBP will create a lasting change in Wajir as the creation of businesses will help bolster the economy and provide hope to future business leaders. Our faculty advisor Suzanne Shanahan (Director, Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University) will also be assisting us in achieving our goals.

Red_ is an internet service tailor-made to the needs of Latin America’s urban poor. The company started in Medellín, Colombia’s Comuna 13, where they’ve installed a Wi-Fi network that people can use to connect to the internet both at home and throughout their neighborhood for one low price. Customers buy access for short periods of time, giving them flexibility in terms of when they spend and how much they spend on internet. This enables people who couldn’t formerly afford internet service to connect!

Namuna Agro-Tourism Cooperative is a social entrepreneurship initiative based in Gijyan village of Parbat, Nepal. It is designed to integrate people’s basic livelihood of subsistence organic farming, animal husbandry, and culture practices with home-stay village tourism programs, hiking, swimming and fishing in the river. The project is aimed at increasing the income levels of people in the village, ultimately lifting them out of absolute poverty. Namuna’s huge scope of scalability and replicability will be an epitome in use of intermediate resources for rural development. KBP will help make this life-changing project a success by providing its valuable financial, technical and institutional support. Namuna team is very much motivated to work with KBP and people in the village to create a real difference.



Health: Aditi Adhikari ’20, Rachel Beardsley ’20, Olivia Huckel ’20, Anwesha Nandi ’20

Economy: Gretchen Blankinship ’20, Etheridge Daniels, Valerie Lundeen ’20, Susanna LaRochelle ’20, Ray Palma

Poverty: Abby Cooper ’20, Sarah Mackenzie ‘20, Allie Omens ‘20, Lauren Talley ’20

Education: Coleman Evans ’20, Lucy Russell ‘20, David Smith ‘20, Emily Parker ’20

Faculty Advisor

Daniel Gitterman,  Duncan MacRae ’09 and Rebecca Kyle MacRae Professor and Chair of Public Policy

Ph.D. Student Mentors

Claire Breen, Alexandria Huber, Adams Nager


JB Buxton, Richard Harrill, and John Hardin

The authors acknowledge generous funding from the Hodding Carter III Public Service Fund, Hammer Ph.D. Fund, John Hardin Undergraduate Excellence Fund,
Thomas W. Ross Leadership Fund and Nancy Stegman Ph.D. Fund.


Zoom Press Conference July 23, 2020 (Zoom VIDEO)

(Impact of COVID-19 on North Carolina)

Presentation   |   Executive Summary

US Census Household Pulse Survey Data (NC)


Economy and Labor Market

Poverty and Food Insecurity


Higher Education


Related information

Governor Cooper Directs $95.6 Million to Support Students Impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic


Media Coverage of Press Event

UNC College of Arts and Sciences profile

The Well newsletter 8/19/20


UNC Group Shows Coronavirus Impact is Unequal Across NC

As COVID-19 cases surge among Latinos, N.C. leaders amplify messages of preventive measures

Will Michaels (WUNC) Chance Of Dying From COVID-19 Is Higher In NC’s Rural Counties, Report Says

A report from UNC Chapel Hill says there’s a higher probability of death from COVID-19 in some of North Carolina’s rural counties.

A group of public policy students analyzed death and infection rates in each of the state’s 100 counties. They found the highest-risk areas had more people of color, higher poverty rates and multiple meat processing plants.

Researcher Aditi Adhikari says existing health care disparities in rural areas could have factored in the results.

Maggie Brown (WRAL) UNC research: Areas hardest hit by coronavirus face greater challenge to get students back in the classroom

A research team from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill released findings on Thursday about how the coronavirus has had a disproportionate impact across the state.

One of the findings was that school districts in areas were COVID-19 cases per 100,000 were the highest were the least prepared to support student needs.

“We don’t really know how students have been impacted in terms of achievement,” the research team reported.

Judith Retana (CBS 17) UNC research shows NC schools not prepared to support students during pandemic 

A research report from a group of UNC-Chapel Hill Public Policy students and recent alumni found North Carolina schools were largely underprepared for the return of school.

The students found people were facing higher rates of anxiety in the last few months.

That was partly due to the finding that counties with greater probabilities of COVID-19 deaths were more likely to have higher poverty rates.

(WWAY) UNC Chapel Hill students present data on statewide COVID impacts  

As the pandemic continues to hit people and communities in North Carolina, students at UNC Chapel Hill released data showing how it has specifically affected different populations.

The group of students gathered data over the last few months on how people have been affected socioeconomically, physically and emotionally.

According to the data, Columbus County was one of the top ten counties in the state with the highest likelihood of contracting COVID-19. Students explained, six of those counties have six or more animal farms, and rely on the meaat processing industry.


Aaron Sánchez-Guerra (News & Observer) Via Twitter: NC counties with meat processing plants also have large non-white populations and high poverty levels, which are all factors that give those counties high Covid-19 death rates, this UNC study says.

Analisa Sorrells, Chief of Staff at Education NC Via Twitter (full thread): I’m tuning into a presentation on the impact of COVID-19 in North Carolina by @UNCPublicPolicy graduates + students. They are sharing data related to COVID-19’s impact on the economy, education, and more.