LBJ School Students Compete at Penn Policy Proposal Challenge, Aim to Implement Proposal Locally | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

Master of Public Affairs students Haley Chambers, Christine Leal and Samuel Storey represented the LBJ School at the University of Pennsylvania Policy Proposal Challenge Invitational occurring March 24–26, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, making it to the semi-finals.

In this real-world team competition, students passionate about public policy and entrepreneurship come together to develop innovative ideas to improve the city of Philadelphia. The LBJ School team—RBJ Team–was selected from 20 schools of public policy to participate in the Invitational and landed a win in the semi-finals, defeating the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs, the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

After competing in the semi-finals, RBJ Team was among four final teams selected to present their findings to a panel of judges at the National Constitutional Center.

“What is special about the National Public Policy Challenge is that it is not so much a competition as it is an opportunity to meet other young, passionate policy professionals,” Leal said. “It is a great opportunity to network and learn about specific challenges that face other communities in the country, and what is being done about them.” 

Chambers, Leal and Storey presented on findings from a 9-month policy research project (PRP), led by Professor Jacqueline Angel. During this PRP, students studied the feasibility of bringing the Program for All Inclusive Care for the Elderly to Austin. The program, known as PACE, provides comprehensive integrated care to frail seniors. 

“What is special about the National Public Policy Challenge is that it is not so much a competition as it is an opportunity to meet other young, passionate policy professionals. It is a great opportunity to network and learn about specific challenges that face other communities in the country, and what is being done about them.” —Christine Leal

While student researchers found many barriers to expanding PACE in Texas, they explored other creative solutions such as private-public partnerships.

“Austin is facing an oncoming silver tsunami, a massive increase in the portion of the population that will be seniors over the next 50 years,” Storey said. “While this happens, communities are unprepared to offer services needed to allow seniors to age and receive care where they live. Our proposal provides one model for integrated, community-based care that is outside of the strict boundaries of a federal government program like PACE. By utilizing private providers, we hope that this program will serve as a model for communities around the country.”

“The senior population in the United States will practically double in the next thirty years,” Chambers said. “We anticipate that Austin and cities across the nation will be looking for solutions to the issues created by such a rise in this population.”

As next steps to implementing the proposal, students will speak with financial advisors from Central Health to evaluate the financial feasibility of the project, and then work with developers to create the necessary infrastructure.

“We made a number of essential connections that inspired us to continue with this work privately,” Storey said. “Specifically, Luci Baines Johnson, LBJ’s daughter, pushed us to continue this work and investigate how we can bring a similar model to Austin.”

“We made a number of essential connections that inspired us to continue with this work privately. Specifically, Luci Baines Johnson, LBJ’s daughter, pushed us to continue this work and investigate how we can bring a similar model to Austin.” —Samuel Storey

Students said Professor Angel’s course helped prepare them for the competition.

“Our experience gained throughout the course of the PRP has been critical to prepare us for this competition,” Chambers said. “Dr. Angel has been the most supportive and encouraging professor throughout this whole process. Her passion for this subject and dedication to this project has taught all of us how to be better policy students and overall, better humans. We are incredibly grateful for her.” 

Dean Evans and LBJ School professor Sherri Greenberg also provided helpful feedback in advance of the competition.

“Sherri Greenberg and Dean Evans provided essential feedback on our presentation that allowed us to develop a great presentation,” Storey said.

“I sincerely hope the LBJ School will have a team participate in the challenge next year,” Leal continued. “This is truly a great experience and a great way to show the nation all the impactful, relevant work we are doing at the LBJ School.” 

“This is truly a great experience and a great way to show the nation all the impactful, relevant work we are doing at the LBJ School.” —Christine Leal