Capstone Courses and Projects

Palladia, Inc.

Development of an Operating Plan
The Capstone team was asked to develop components of an operating plan to establish the PlaySpace Children's Center in East Harlem, an early childhood development facility designed for use by infants and toddlers with their caregivers. In consultation with The Non Profit Consortium, a group of organizations that provides family services to the target population, the team performed literature reviews, researched census data, conducted interviews with East Harlem service providers, and studied comparative models. The team developed a statement of need, identified potential funding sources, outlined capital considerations for program start-up, and offered recommendations for a membership program, social venture model, and governance structure. Research findings that shaped the team’s recommendations include: the high level of unmet need of families in East Harlem, an increasingly competitive non-profit funding environment, and the significant commitment and expertise of the consortium agencies.

New York City Mission Society

Needs Assessment of New York City Mission Society’s Programs
The New York City Mission Society, founded in 1812, is one of New York City’s oldest private human service organizations, providing 25 programs and services in the communities of the Bronx and Harlem. The Capstone team conducted a needs assessment of four of their programs to determine the needs of their clients and explore whether the Society is meeting those needs while adhering to its mission to increase the self-sufficiency of children and families in need. The team surveyed the clients of these four programs and provided a comprehensive analysis of the communities served by the Society. As a result of this research, the team outlined the many needs of the communities that the Society meets and identified other potential opportunities.

Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services

Cost-Benefit Comparative Analysis Between Incarceration and Alternative-to Incarceration
The Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES) is the largest nonprofit alternative-to-incarceration agency in New York State. CASES is interested in demonstrating its cost-effectiveness as a strategy for securing adequate public funding in the future. The Capstone team calculated the potential cost savings to New York City and State of diverting teenage felony offenders from incarceration into CASES’s Court Employment Project (CEP). The team also created and administered a survey instrument that compared CEP participants with adolescents recently released from jail or prison. The survey measured the degree to which participants possess certain goals, attitudes, and skills indicative of desirable CEP outcomes that may result in future benefits to the City and State.

Blue Ridge Foundation New York

Building Capacity in Foundation Grantees
Blue Ridge Foundation New York operates a venture philanthropy fund that provides intensive support to new, innovative organizations that seek to address important social issues. The Capstone team worked exclusively with two of the Foundation’s grantees: iMentor and Legal Outreach. iMentor was founded in 1999 to build relationships between young people and volunteer adult mentors, primarily through e-mail correspondence. The team conducted a literature review and researched corporate-nonprofit partnerships in order to provide recommendations for cultivating relationships that yield corporate volunteers, funding, and programmatic support. Legal Outreach was founded in 1983 to provide urban youth intensive legal and educational programming as a tool for developing skills and facilitating the pursuit of higher education. The team produced a comprehensive marketing packet to appeal to the organization’s various stakeholders, researched recruitment strategies used by other organizations, and designed a promotion and recruitment plan to help increase participation in Legal Outreach’s Summer Law Institute.

Department of Youth and Community Development

The Use of Customer Satisfaction Surveys in Public Agencies
The Capstone team conducted an exploratory project on survey methods, design, and administration for New York City’s Depart-ment of Youth and Community Development (DYCD). Together with DYCD, the team designed a customer satisfaction survey to be sent to community-based organizations under contract with the agency. The objective of the survey is to develop an effective feedback system so the agency can better meet the needs of its contractors. For this project, the Capstone team researched previous DYCD customer satisfaction initiatives and various survey methodologies, conducted an external review to determine how other human service agencies used customer satisfaction surveys, and explored the options of using web-based applications to administer the survey.

WildCat Service Corporation

Case Management Model to Help Retain Clients
The Capstone team researched ways of improving WildCat Service Corporation’s method of placing clients into various jobs in New York City. WildCat is a nonprofit organization that receives funding from the City and State based on performance-based budgeting. The performance-based budgeting method is a new law implemented as of January 1, 2003 and accounts for approximately 98 percent of the organization’s funding. As a result, the main focus of WildCat is to retain clients in the ESP Program—its Welfare-to-Work Program. The Program accounts for approximately $6 million in funding per year. The Capstone team’s research will serve as a blueprint for the organization’s case management practices which will effectively impact their City and State funding.