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Capstone Experience

The Capstone Experience

Great leaders understand the value of using quality data to inform decision-making. The ability to identify, collect, and analyze relevant information is a vital skill in order to thrive in today’s world.

The BLI Capstone provides project teams with ongoing professional development, up to $10,000 of financial support, and access to elite mentors whose careers are built on evidence-based leadership.

Whether your project is still an idea or an existing venture with potential to grow, the BLI Capstone experience will provide you with the funding and resources necessary to make your vision a reality.

Questions? Email: Mary Schlitt

The London Idea Partnership

One lucky Capstone team will be selected as the London Idea Project.  The student team selected will benefit from specialized support for their actionplan as well as a Mentorship Network and Summer Immersion Program led by The London Idea.

The London Idea was created to celebrate the legacy of Adam London, a 2011 graduate of the University, majoring in Organizational Studies. He was an innovative ideator, a passionate creator, and an avid explorer. The London Idea Foundation's partnership with BLI continues Adam’s work connecting people and ideas.

2018 Capstone London Idea Project is VenueTourist!

Congratulations to the 2018 Cohort!

Alternate Reality Initiative

To create a clear vision and roadmap for how the Alternative Reality Initiative student community can expand and leverage resources for the 2018-2019 school year.

Being First

Seeking to enhance the experiences of first-generation college students and their families on campus by focusing on gaps in the dissemination of information and resources available to these constituents.

The Dot Org

A student organization dedicated to ending the stigma surrounding menstruation and increasing awareness of menstruation-based disparities among women from low-income households.


To build cultural competence in our team and evaluate pilot program data to best serve immigrant populations in the Greater Detroit/Ann Arbor area in regards to cardiovascular, mental and nutritional health.

Migrant Education Initiative

An effort to expand the representation of migrant students on college campuses through direct recruitment efforts.


An effort to provide students from low-income households adequate web-based resources to search, apply for and fund higher education or vocational opportunities.


A mobile application that allows everyone in the party to have a say in the music playing.


A 3D modeling service that offers a fully customizable virtual tour experience for venues seeking new customers.

Capstone 2018 Timeline

Info Session 1:

Wednesday, 2.21.2018 | 5:30-7 PM | Weiser 855

Info Session 2:

Wednesday, 3.7.2018 | 7-8:30 PM | Weiser 855

Application Deadline: Sunday, 3.11.2018

Application Link: The Capstone 2018 application is closed

Program Cycle: May 2018 - December 2018

Winter 2018: Cohort meetings on 3.30.18 and 4.18.18 | 3-6 PM

Bootcamp: 4.30.18 - 5.4.18 | 8 AM - 6 PM

Showcase: 5.4.2018

Summer Data Collection: 5.5.2018 - 9.2.2018

Fall Implemention: 9.4.2018 - 12.20.2018

December Project Showcase: 12.7.2018


What is the Capstone Experience?

The Barger Leadership Institute will support advanced undergraduates in the pursuit of significant collaborative leadership projects whose design, implementation, and evaluation requires significant analytic work. Project teams will have a capstone experience that brings abstract skills learned in the classroom into sustained contact with practical challenges in urban, environmental, socioeconomic and global arenas.

Resources and Opportunities:

  • Develop concrete skills through networking, mentorship, public engagement, workshops, and more
  • Gain relevant content-area expertise through targeted data collection and research
  • Receive professional development in areas related to: project management, data collection and analysis, navigating ambiguity, stakeholder analysis, public speaking,
    team development, curating and managing an advisory board
  • Participate in an exclusive week-long bootcamp with access to alumni mentors and BLI staff, intensive feedback opportunities, and robust skill development related to individual student projects
  • Gain eligibility to receive up to $10,000 of project funding, including the opportunity to receive stipend support
  • Engage in multi-faceted reflection process with the help of BLI staff
  • Receive personalized feedback and support from an experienced BLI Graduate Assistant (GA)

Who is Eligible?

  • All team members must be current undergraduates in good academic standing who are enrolled at the University of Michigan through December 2018
  • At least one team member must be a BLI Fellow who has completed ALA 170 (Leadership Lab)
  • Teams must have a minimum of two members and up to a maximum of five members who are actively participating in the program including attendance at all required dates.
  • All participating team members must be available for Cohort Meetings, Bootcamp, and December Showcase. Note that the bootcamp (4.30.18 - 5.4.18) is a full-time, mandatory commitment with deliverables to be completed each night. Students are expected to be available for in-person programming from 8 AM - 6 PM. 


2016 Summer Capstone Cohort Projects

Aequora: Michigan
Ayla Wing and Evan David

Our project will bring Aequora, an after school program that teaches Classical Latin to elementary and middle school students in struggling school districts, to southeast Michigan. We will be partnering with Eastern Michigan University's Bright Futures program, which brings other after school programs to various schools around the region, and Estabrook Learning Community, a K-8 school in Ypsilanti, Michigan. As Latin education students, we are very excited to share our passions with a young audience, and we will hopefully expand our program to multiple sites in the upcoming year!

Internet Friends

Jonah Beck and Zachary Beck

What comes to mind when you hear the word “gamer?” Is it a sweaty, socially inept man of indeterminate age ranging anywhere between 16 and 40 years old? Is it a bunch of kids shooting digital avatars of each other? Or do you recall the overt sexism of certain media scandals such as Gamergate, perpetrated by individuals who claimed to be defending the gamer identity? All of these concepts factor into how we understand what a gamer is today, and thus how games are made and played. Our leadership project wants to get to the heart of these issues in order to re-examine them and give forum to new discourse on gender in video game communities. After researching online gaming communities, we are beginning work on a student-developed video game that will synthesize our data into a role-playing game that explores themes of sexism and gender norms in online communities. The player will be put in the shoes of two characters who frequent online forums and message boards to connect with others who share their passion for video games. We hope that our game will give players new perspective about one's words and actions online, and what it means to be a gamer.

2017 Capstone Cohort Projects

Michigan First

BLI Fellow: Soledad Martinez

The first generation college student identity does not have a concrete definition but instead is very complex and depends on individual circumstances. Based on research and personal experience, many individuals who would normally be considered as first generation student do not self-identify as first generation students. This is due to a lack of education and understanding regarding the complexities of a first generation college student. The individuals also have difficult feeling a sense of community at large institutions such as the University of Michigan.Michigan’s First is to bridge the gap between first generation college students at the University of Michigan and necessary resources available at the university. They are working in collaboration with the Kessler Presidential Scholarship Program. The end product of Michigan’s First will be to create a introductory brochure, student “ how-to” guide, and professional video to be viewed by all incoming freshmen.

Mythbusting our Biases

BLI Fellow: Clara Li
Team: Alyssa Toye, John Schaefer, Victoria Rai

"Mythbusting Our Biases" is based on the premise that individuals’ perspectives are grounded in his/her/their upbringing and experiences. Often, people tend to associate themselves with like-minded individuals. Unfortunately, such practices tend to reinforce personal biases as individuals are not put in positions where their perceptions are thoroughly challenged.The vision of “Mythbusting Our Biases” is to bring awareness to one’s biases, in the hopes of fostering globally competent individuals. We aim to achieve this through events titled “Dinners in the Dark.” Based on the restaurant model that creates an environment for people to have a different sensory experience with food, their version will also blindfold participants during dinner discussions, which will provide a unique way for students to engage in discussions around biases on campus. 


BLI Fellow: Sahibdeep Gill
Team: Allison Winnik, Han Joon Kim

SwingBy is a location based social-networking application that connects friends with hangouts in real time. A user can create an event in seconds and send friends an open invitation to “SwingBy.” Friends can see all the events going on in their area on a map interface in real time, and can choose which event they want to “SwingBy” using photo and video updates of the event to guide their decision.SwingBy has won “Best Technical Solution” at the European Innovation Academy over the summer. SwingBy also came out with a few Silicon Valley investors saying they could see their team at the world famous, Y Combinator. The vision is to launch in Fall 2017 at the University of Michigan campus and to dominate this market with 5,000 users by the end of 2017.


BLI Fellow: IIan Siegel
Team: Arthur Shi

OrgShare is an online student organization information sharing platform that allows students to rate, review, and navigate professional orgs on campus. Their philosophy is that being active in professionally oriented student organizations is hugely constructive and drives professional development. Their vision is to build an online community that helps students find the orgs that best align with their goals while making a big University have a small community atmosphere. 

Emotions in Action

BLI Fellow: Sanjee Choudhuri
Team: Ellery Wong, Alexander Mize

Emotions in Action is a fun after school group mentoring program partnering Ann Arbor middle schoolers with University of Michigan students to promote emotional wellness by teaching concrete emotional management techniques.This program aims to reduce the stigma associated discussion of emotions and mental health and better prepare our youth for their future both mentally and emotionally. The goal of Emotions in Action is to lessen the overall mental strain middle school students experience by practicing concrete emotional management techniques and creating a space where children can be themselves, talk about their emotions, and learn emotional management skills.


BLI Fellow: Alex Wilf
Team: Keenan Tullis

Members​ ​of​ ​the​ ​University​ ​of​ ​Michigan​ ​community​ ​are​ ​constantly​ ​growing​ ​as​ ​a​ ​result​ ​of​ ​interacting​ ​with complex​ ​ideas.​ ​In​ ​the​ ​course​ ​of​ ​these​ ​interactions,​ ​it​ ​can​ ​often​ ​be​ ​difficult​ ​to​ ​break​ ​down​ ​ideas systematically,​ ​store​ ​them​ ​in​ ​an​ ​easily​ ​retrievable​ ​and​ ​understandable​ ​way,​ ​and​ ​communicate​ ​them effectively. While back-of-the-napkin​ notes,​ ​whiteboarding​ ​sessions,​ ​and​ ​long wandering​ ​conversations​ ​all​ ​have​ ​their​ ​place​ ​(and​ ​always​ ​will)​ , ​what​ ​is​ ​needed​ ​is​ ​a​ ​common​ ​language​ ​to​ ​formalize​ ​conclusions,​ ​a mechanism​ ​to​ ​store​ ​those​ ​conclusions,​ ​and​ ​a​n efficient retrieval process​.Invarient will alleviate these issues for the UM community by creating a new system for visualizing and storing information. Their tool can be used by all including teachers for teaching, students for academic ideas, and academic advisors who want to illustrate possible career paths and academic requirements for their students.


BLI Fellows: Ben Freiband, Rachel Menge

ArborHacks is a student organization that is focused on encouraging computer science skills in all groups and all ages. Through workshops and other events, our mission is to give those with the desire to learn computer science and related subjects an environment in which their passion for and pursuit of knowledge drives them to greater academic heights. ArborHacks’ goal is to host a high school programming competition for 200 students on March 10, 2018 at the University of Michigan and to directly address the gender gap issue in Computer Science. In alignment with the coding competition’s mission, ArborHacks is offering $800 in transportation compensation to ten high schools who bring 50% women or whose responses show a respect for diversity. They will also offer gender equality workshops for teachers during the competition to continue raising awareness 

IGV Intelligent Ground Vehicle 

BLI Fellow: Adarash Mishra
Team: Madhav Goli
The University of Michigan Intelligent Ground Vehicle is a new student design team working across three pillars to 1) create the first student-led autonomous ground vehicle to compete at Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition held at Oakland University, 2) pilot the first-ever introduction to robotics course, and 3) create a unified student-led robotics group at the University of Michigan.They believe in a hands-on, educational approach to enlighten students and our communities about autonomous and robotic systems. Ultimately, their vision is a premier robotics team at U-M that is a place where anyone regardless of their background can get involved in robotics and a catalyst for spinning off entrepreneurial and social ventures.


BLI Fellow: Kiley Judge
Team: Aaron Ngo, Rahul Bejarano 

Kraken has identified a ​twofold problem, ​every​ ​year​ ​millions​ ​of​ ​people​ ​struggle​ ​to​ ​choose​ ​healthy​ ​beverage options​ ​and​ ​simultaneously​ ​billions​ ​of​ ​pounds​ ​of​ ​food​ ​go​ ​uneaten.​ ​To address this problem, Kraken Foods has created their​ ​Tart​ ​Teas​ ​&​ ​Fruit Elixirs​.​ The Tart Teas & Fruit Elixirs ​uses​ ​“ugly”​ ​fruits​ ​(currently​ ​focused​ ​on​ ​apples)​ ​to​ ​create apple cider vinegar (ACV).​ The ​quirky​ ​apple​ ​cider​ ​vinegar​ is then mixed ​with​ ​fresh​ ​fruit​ ​juice,​ ​spices,​ ​and​ ​herbs​ ​with​ ​a touch​ ​of​ ​sweetness. Kraken’s ​goal​ ​is​ ​to​ ​launch​ their ​Tart​ ​Teas​ ​&​ ​Fruit​ ​Elixirs​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Ann​ ​Arbor​ ​area​ ​and to continue to raise awareness about food waste. ACV​ ​has​ ​been​ ​used​ ​for​ ​thousands​ ​of​ ​years to​ ​flavor​ ​drinks​ ​and​ ​enhance​ ​beverages.​ ​In​ ​the​ ​last​ ​several​ ​decades,​ ​ACV​ ​has​ ​been​ ​used​ ​as​ ​a metabolism​ ​boost​ ​to​ ​help​ ​support​ ​healthy​ ​diets​ ​and​ ​promote​ ​natural​ ​energy. Kraken believes bringing the Tart Teas & Fruit Elixirs to Ann Arbor will be the perfect fit.