In the Community Development Finance Lab at the Milano School, students work with community-based organizations and public sector agencies to conduct feasibility studies and build financial models for their community economic development and impact investment projects. Taught by Kevin McQueen — a partner at BWB Solutions LLC, a national consulting firm specializing in planning, governance and impact investing — the Lab is a reflection of The New School’s real-world and socially engaged educational approach.

Recently, the Lab was selected as one of three courses across the country to receive the Innovative Curriculum Award from the Association for Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP), the biggest academic planning association in the country, and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, a think tank focused on land use and community development and planning. The honor also comes with a $10,000 reward to spend on the course and a dedicated space on Lincoln’s new curriculum website.

“Winning projects will receive financial support and become part of the Lincoln Institute’s forthcoming digital case library,” said Lourdes Germán, Director, International & Institute-wide Initiatives with the Lincoln Institute. “Our goal is to provide a platform for sharing land policy knowledge in compelling ways across different cities, regions, and countries.”

In addition to working on real-world challenges, students in the Lab examine project analysis, deal structuring, financing tools, and community capital markets through classroom instruction, and learn from and network with development finance experts. The Lab also serves as a vehicle for The New School to build connections between private, public, and philanthropic capital markets and academic education in the fields of community development, impact investing, social entrepreneurship, sustainability management, and urban design.