Capstone Courses and Projects
Agenda for Children Tomorrow (ACT)
In the current environment of high-stakes accountability in education, increased achievement in highly stressed schools has become paramount. Research has shown that effective family involvement in education is correlated with students’ academic and social achievement. Agenda for Children Tomorrow (ACT) seeks to integrate family involvement practices with all of the initiatives they have formed to improve the well-being of children and families in New York City’s poorest neighborhoods. Towards that end, the Capstone team developed a catalog of family engagement theory and models to assist Agenda for Children Tomorrow. Additionally, the Capstone team compiled family engagement model evaluations and recommended evaluation designs and measures that may be successfully implemented by ACT. To produce these materials, the team conducted both field-work and document-based research, including an internal document review and an extensive literature review. Field work included attending ACT meetings and training sessions, conducting site visits and interviews with family engagement practitioners across the country, and interviewing key players and consumers such as parents, community groups, and educators within the schools. This Capstone was made possible with the support from an anonymous donor through FJC: A Donor-Advised Fund.
Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT)
Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT) is a nonprofit organization that empowers children and families and educates the community by expanding access to family law and child welfare information through court-based and community programming. A previous Capstone client, this year LIFT identified a need to refine and enhance its evaluation tools and to develop a marketing strategy based on data analysis. LIFT believes it must increase awareness among clients and donors to ensure success of new programmatic initiatives, such as the launch of a new City Council-funded Hotline. As such, the Capstone team provided an extensive analysis of LIFT’s clientele based on demographics and pertinent family law issues for which they seek LIFT’s assistance. In addition, the team provided LIFT with a series of marketing tactics, including several reviews of marketing best practices, promotional plans, public relations resources, and case studies in order to provide LIFTwith the toolsit will need in order to achieve its goal of increased awareness.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and TransgenderCommunity Center of New York City
As the largest community center of its type on the East Coast, and the second largest in the world, the LGBT Community Center has worked for 22 years to fortify, enrichand provide a vibrant home for the LGBT Community of New York City. The Capstone team was asked to study the current membership base and non-member users of the Center to develop strategies that would strengthen the membership program. The Capstone team surveyed users of the Center over a four-week period and utilized this data to identify several short-term and long-term strategies theCenter could use to build and sustain higher levels of membership. The team’s strategy in developing action plans for the Center was to develop multiple suggestions that would complement and support each other but would also function and be successful if implemented independently.This Capstone was made possible with the support from an anonymous donor through FJC: A Donor-Advised Fund.
Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence
The New York City Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence (OCDV) has been selected to implement a Brooklyn-based Family Justice Center (FJC), an innovative model to streamline the delivery of services for domestic violence victims by co-locating the services of multiple community-based organizations, city agencies, and institutions under one roof. The OCDV enlisted the help of the Capstone team to determine how best to coordinate the services of 18 community-based organizations at the new center. The Capstone team conducted interviews and site visits with each community-based organization to collect information on each organization’s capacity, operating procedures, and expectations for the FJC. The team developed case narratives for each partner organization and conducted qualitative data analysis to develop recommendations for the OCDV to organize effectively collaborative efforts of all partners when the FJC opens at the end of this year. This Capstone was made possible with the support from an anonymous donor through FJC: A Donor-Advised Fund.
New York City Department of Homeless Services
While homeless shelter usage rates among single men have declined in New York City, usage rates of women - especially young women with children - have risen, making families a growing part of the homeless population. As supportive housing for single adults has developed a track record as a cost-effective and humane method for reducing chronic homelessness, interest in family supportive housing has grown. Increasing the supply of supportive housing and service-enriched housing units for families is included as an action step in the Mayor’s 10-year plan to address homelessness. The Capstone team examined various models of supportive housing throughout the city and across the country to see what these models could do to reduce chronic homelessness. The Capstone team provided the Department of Homeless Services with an overview of family supportive housing trends and practices nationally, described he landscape of family supportive housing in New York City, estimated the extent to which current family shelter users might benefit from supportive housing, and gathered basic data on funding streams or services and capital expenses.
Several recent federal, state and city policy changes have added to existing challenges facing recovering substance abusers who are trying to reunify with their children. Those changes include new family reunification laws, conflicting housing and social service policies, and federal budget cuts to the Housing Choice Voucher Program, formerly known as Section 8. Palladia enlisted the help of the Capstone team to gather stories of tenants residing in its supportive housing programs. Palladia staff members wanted to understand better the experiences of parents that have reunified or are currently attempting to reunite with children that had been placed in foster care, group homes or with their family members. Through in-depth qualitative interviews with tenants in five supportive housing sites along with the construction of family genograms, the team created profiles of families that experienced reunification. The team also conducted government and nonprofit agency interviews, a housing and social service policy implication analysis, and a literature review. In the final report, the Capstone team identified common themes in family reunification of former substance abusers and made service delivery recommendations for tenants, their children, and Palladia management. This Capstone was made possible with the support from an anonymous donor through FJC: A Donor-Advised Fund.