Capstone Courses and Projects
National Council for Research on Women
A Strategic Approach to Improve Collaborative Opportunities and Marketing Initiatives
The National Council for Research on Women is a network of 120 leading research, policy, and advocacy centers committed to improving the lives of women and girls. The Council provides the latest news, information, and strategies to ensure fully informed debates, effective policies, and inclusive practices. The Council is now in a position to think about strategic growth and requested the Capstone team develop strategies for the Council to become a more integral resource to the women's and progressive communities. The Capstone team performed an environmental scan to provide a deeper understanding of the field and surveyed partner and nonpartner organizations to determine what organizations seek from collaboration. The report's recommendations provide a road map for the Council to develop new marketing strategies and collaborative opportunities to strengthen its reputation in the field of women's research and policy.
Main Street Legal Services
Case Management and Systems Administration for a Complex Legal Services Program
Main Street Legal Services (MSLS) is the clinical training program at CUNY Law School. MSLS has seven clinics, each of which operates as an independent silo of activity, with its own administrative protocols for case intake, case tracking, record keeping, communications, and conflict checking. The organization approached the Capstone team for advice on how to manage seven divergent practice areas in a coordinated fashion and implement and enforce uniform administrative protocols across the clinics. Of specific concern was the failure of many clinics to maintain comprehensive case records in the shared electronic case management system. The Capstone team conducted a review of the organization's administrative practices, surveyed key stakeholder groups (faculty, staff, students), and contacted other law firms and clinical programs to identify best practices in the field. The final report consisted of internal research findings, best practices of peer institutions, and recommendations that will streamline administrative processes to strengthen the provision of quality client services and legal instruction.
Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A
Developing Logic Models and Evaluation Tools to Increase Understanding of the Impact of a New York City Legal Services Nonprofit Organization
Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A (Brooklyn A) contracted with the Capstone team to research and design logic models and an impact evaluation tool for two practice areas that provide legal counsel and representation to communitybased organizations and lowincome tenants in North and East Brooklyn: Community and Economic Development Unit (CEDU) and Group Representation Unit (GRU). Through interviews with a variety of stakeholders, the team explored the role and impact of Brooklyn A as an intermediary within the larger context of health and housing initiatives in lowincome communities. The Capstone team produced several deliverables for Brooklyn A: four logic models (two each for CEDU and GRU) that explicate the program theory and primary and secondary outcomes of Brooklyn A's work; a report compiling research and recommendations regarding logic model design and use; and a survey tool enabling Brooklyn A to improve performance measurement and tracking, assess program outcomes, and communicate the contribution of legal services to outcomes of partner organizations and the community at large.
Employment Outcomes Analysis
Palladia empowers individuals to become active, productive members of the community through programs aimed at easing the struggle with addiction, homelessness, domestic violence, and trauma. Palladia wanted a more concrete understanding of the systemic obstacles its clients face in the job market in order to develop new strategies to improve outcomes. The Capstone team was enlisted to help Palladia better understand these barriers and to provide recommendations on how the organization can improve employment outcomes in the future. The Capstone team developed a set of recommendations after conducting a series of staff interviews, client focus groups, meetings with potential employers, and competitor interviews and analysis.
National Human Services Assembly
Identifying Practices that Increase Ethnic and Racial Diversity of Senior Management
The National Human Services Assembly is an association of national nonprofits working in the fields of health, human and community development, and human services. One of the Assembly's current priorities is to identify practices that increase ethnic and racial diversity within the senior management of member organizations. Although much has been written about workplace diversity in general, little research has focused specifically on diversity outcomes within senior management. The Capstone team examined this issue through primary and secondary research. The team distributed surveys to Assembly member CEOs and human resources leaders, conducted focus groups, and interviewed several industry experts. The team shared its findings in a best practices guide that can be used by the Assembly, its members, and other nonprofits to extend the benefits of diversity to all levels of staff and management.
Applied Research Center
Impact Evaluation of the Drop the "I" Word Campaign
The Applied Research Center (ARC) is a racial justice think tank dedicated to advancing social justice through research, advocacy, and journalism. The Capstone team was asked to design an impact evaluation system to measure the success of Drop The IWord (DTIW), a new advocacy campaign which asks media outlets, organizations, and individuals to pledge to eliminate usage of the word “illegal” when referring to undocumented immigrants, in favor of other less raciallycharged terms. The evaluation system assessed the campaign's progress on reaching its identified short and longterm goals, and is flexible enough to be adapted for future campaigns and initiatives. The team designed and tested the system against the objectives of the first sixmonth phase of DTIW (Oct '10March '11). The team also provided training on the system to ARC staff to ensure that evaluation becomes an integrated part of the campaign and the organization.
Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health
Improving Access: Identifying Barriers to Services for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals
The Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health (AAIUH) designs, incubates, and replicates communitybased behavioral interventions that empower individuals to address health disparities in urban communities. AAIUH implements several barbershopbased health interventions that train barbers to serve as lay health advocates. The organization is currently developing the ACCESS project, a barbershopbased program that seeks to increase the number of formerly incarcerated minorities utilizing social services that promote successful reentry. AAIUH requested a Capstone team to assist in clarifying the barriers facing the target population when attempting to access services and identify strategies that may increase access. The Capstone team researched current literature regarding barriers to successful reentry and developed and administered a questionnaire for service providers to document barriers at the local level. The final report outlines findings and provides recommendations to practitioners, policy makers, and prison officials.
Women's World Banking
Increasing Volunteer Management Effectiveness
Women's World Banking (WWB) is a global network of 40 microfinance providers and banks working in 28 countries to bring financial services and information to lowincome entrepreneurs. As the organization expands its strategic agenda, the need for broader human resources— specifically a more expansive volunteer network—is increasingly critical. The Capstone team developed a model formalizing WWB's volunteer management to increase its ability to more effectively utilize this human capital. To accomplish this, the Capstone team interviewed WWB leadership, staff, and volunteers to develop a framework of current volunteer usage and future needs, conducted interviews with benchmark organizations, and researched best practices and volunteer management theory. For the final project, the Capstone team presented a set of strategic recommendations and a program management model to help WWB to advance its goal of enabling women to build a secure financial future for themselves and their families
YWCA of the City of New York
Needs Assessment of East New York and Brownsville
The YWCA of the City of New York is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for citizens throughout New York City's five boroughs. The YWCA is working with the City of New York to apply for a federal Promise Neighborhood Planning Grant to serve the communities of East New York and Brownsville, Brooklyn. The YWCA requested that the Capstone team conduct a needs assessment of these communities that could be used as part of the application. The Capstone team conducted research about the demographic breakdown of the region, the political and programmatic history of Promise Neighborhoods, and best practices around needs assessment and community interviews. The team then interviewed community leaders and surveyed community members. The quantitative and qualitative data gathered will inform both the types of programs established by the YWCA and the funding applications to support these programs. The final report provided the YWCA with a phased strategy for executing the Promise Neighborhood planning process and identifying potential partners for its implementation.
Hebrew Free Loan Society
ReEngineering the Immigrant Student Aid Program
Hebrew Free Loan Society (HFLS) promotes economic selfsufficiency in New York by providing interestfree loans. One of its largest programs, Immigrant Student Aid, helps immigrant parents from the former Soviet Union finance higher education for their children. While the cost of higher education has skyrocketed since the terms for this program were originally set, the loan program (including maximum loan amount and amortization schedule) has never been adjusted. The Capstone team conducted a literature review, statistical analysis of existing borrowers, phone surveys with former and potential borrowers, and inperson interviews with potential borrowers in Bensonhurst and Sheepshead Bay. The team developed several alternative loan products and analyzed how they would impact HFLS financially. The team then compiled this research and analysis to produce a report of findings and recommendations to assist HFLS in reengineering its Immigrant Student Aid loans to best meet the needs of its target market. The report's recommendations provide a point of reference for HFLS as it embarks on its third strategic planning process.
The Partnership for the Homeless
Supporting and Preventing Homelessness among the Elderly in the South Bronx
The Partnership for the Homeless develops programs and initiatives to eliminate the root causes of homelessness and provide support for homeless individuals. To address the prevention of homelessness among the elderly in the South Bronx, the Partnership engaged a Capstone team to research demographic needs, possible service models, and model feasibility. The team developed a threephased project that included census tract analysis identifying existing service providers in the designated census tracts, a literature review of existing national program models, and the development of a business plan prototype. The team's final recommendations included suggested partnerships with specified service providers, incorporation of best practices from existing models, and operational procedures for program success.
New York State Office of Children and Family Services
The State of New York State: Parent Education Programs for AtRisk Families
The Office of Children and Family Services serves New York by promoting the safety and wellbeing of children, families, and communities within the State. The purpose of this Capstone project was to look comprehensively at parent education programs across New York. The team conducted a literature review, developed a summary of parent education programs, and assessed best practices in parent education through a survey distributed to all New York State agencies. The team also created a database of parent education programs and foster care agencies. The Capstone team made informed recommendations about the most effective programs for atrisk parents to help the Office of Children and Family Services reduce the reentry rate of children into foster care.