Strategic Public Policy Consulting

Consulting for credit



The Ford School’s Strategic Public Policy Consulting course is a semester-long Master’s level course that engages students in a supervised consulting project with a real-world client. Teams of 3-6 students work with a faculty coordinator and client representative to: develop a project work plan; collect relevant materials and information; conduct research and analysis; prepare a written report; and present findings and recommendations to the client. Students are expected to produce professional-quality work at minimal cost to the client. In return, clients are asked to help provide students with a valuable, engaging educational and professional experience.

Kaltura Video
Strategic Consulting: Engage in Real-World Impact

For more information

To discuss the process and outcomes or to submit a proposal, interested organizations can contact course manager Jeff Morenoff.

Recent Strategic Consulting projects

Many organizations have partnered with Ford School students and faculty through the Strategic Public Policy Consulting course to tackle significant problems in the public, private, or non-profit sectors. Recent projects include:

  • City of Ann Arbor, MI, Energy Efficiency Investments: Estimated economic impact of city’s energy investments.
  • Government Accountability Office, Options to Extend Labor Force Participation to Older Americans: Conducted mixed-methods analysis of labor force trends, barriers, opportunities.
  • US Department of Justice, ICITAP Philippines, Competency Framework: Developed job classification scheme for PNP.
  • ICITAP WDC, Strategic Planning: deconstructed previous strategic plan, developed planning framework.
  • Jordan Morgan Foundation, Capacity Building: Developed materials, supported strategic planning process.
  • Networks Northwest, Traverse City Affordable Housing Study: Undertook stakeholder analysis and peer comparisons.
  • FocusHOPE, New Mobility Options for Hope Village Residents: Conducted demand analysis for possible introduction of local ride-hailing and car-sharing services.
  • Downtown Detroit Partnership, Redevelopment of 600 Randolph: Identified redevelopment opportunities.
  • State of Michigan Talent Investment Agency, Michigan Works! and WIOA Implementation Reform: Provided background research to support state-level reform efforts.
  • Government Accountability Office, New K-12 Education Assessments: Assessed implementation of new education assessments under recently adopted consortium agreements.
  • City of Detroit, Mayor’s Office, Detroit’s Neighborhood Enterprise Zones: Studied the effectiveness of Detroit’s NEZs in stabilizing neighborhoods and attracting new residents.
  • Flint City Charter Commission, Technical Assistance: Analyzed alternative municipal forms of government and other proposed reforms.
  • ICITAP WDC, Promoting Sustainable Institutional Development: Evaluated program’s sustainable institutional development initiatives.
  • Presbytery of Detroit, Defining and Engaging Community: Devised a community engagement strategy for Greenfield Presbyterian Church.

Success stories

Students testifying at Michigan House committee

Ford students testify in Lansing on equity crowdfunding legislation

(L-R) Christopher Falcone (MPP ’14), Jessica Teng (MPP '14), Erin Sullivan (MPP ’14), Matthew Papadapoluos (MPP/MA ’13) appeared in front of the House Commerce Committee to testify on House Bill (HB) 4996 which would allow equity crowdfunding in Michigan.(link is external)
Read the story
Willow Run from above

Ford School Strategic Consulting students reimagine GM Powertrain Plant Facility and Willow Run Airport

Ford School master's students Patrick Leonard, Tyler Sawher, Dan Trubman, and Eboni Wells presented proposals to local officials, community leaders, and residents that would repurpose the GM Powertrain Plant Facility and the Willow Run Airport as a waste management facility, or "Energyopolis," and "Willow Network," a research hub.
Read the story
Lenawee County Courthouse

Students partner with local leaders to evaluate cost-saving measures in Lenawee County

On behalf of a group of business and civic leaders from Lenawee County, Michigan, students identified opportunities for cost-savings and efficiency gains through shared municipal service provision. Students conducted surveys of local governments, created a catalog of public facilities, and forecasted cost savings under various scenarios. 
Watch the video

Guidelines, next steps for organizations interested in participating

Proposing a Project

Organizations interested in partnering with the Ford School on a Strategic Public Policy Consulting project should take the following steps:

  • Complete a project proposal form.
  • Schedule a consultation.
  • Proposals for Fall semester projects (September – December) must be submitted by March 1. Proposals for Winter semester projects (January – April) must be submitted by October 15.
  • Selected projects will be notified within six weeks after the submission deadline.

What makes a successful Strategic Public Policy Consulting project?

The following guidelines will help prospective clients identify and develop successful Strategic Public Policy Consulting projects:

  • The project should deal with an important public policy problem that presents a significant challenge or opportunity to the organization.
  • The project should engage students in a range of multi-disciplinary research and analytical activities such as researching best practices, conducting archival research, interviewing or surveying stakeholders, analyzing financial documents, conducting cost benefit analysis, etc.
  • The client organization should designate a knowledgeable contact person who is available to provide students with information, access, and guidance.
  • The project needs to be successfully completed in 13 weeks.


Selected projects will be conducted according to the following timeline:

Week Activity

Prior to semester

Client meets with faculty director, finalizes project proposal

Week 1

Client meets with students (in person or via VTC), describes organization and project goals

Week 2 – 3

Students prepare work plan, confirm with client, begin preliminary work

Week 4 – 9

Students conduct research and analysis, client is available for information, access, and guidance

Week 7

Students make preliminary mid-term presentation to client

Week 10 – 11

Students submit preliminary report, client provides feedback

Week 12

Students make oral presentation of findings, results, and recommendations

Week 13

Students submit final report


Have any questions?