Capstone Courses and Projects

Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence

Evaluating the Brooklyn Family Justice Center: An Outcome Model and Evaluation Toolkit
A joint project of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence (OCDV) and the King’s County District Attorney’s Office (KCDA) established through the President’s Family Justice Center Initiative, the Brooklyn Family Justice Center (FJC) is a “co-located” domestic violence service center, placing representatives from a diverse collection of community-based organizations and government agencies within one office in order to assist clients more effectively, efficiently, and holistically. OCDV engaged the Capstone team to clarify the FJC’s desired organizational and service outcomes, and to develop tools that the FJC could use to evaluate its success in achieving these outcomes. Using the information and insight gained during client and expert interviews, the performance of an extensive literature review, and an assessment of data collection processes and client tracking systems, the team created an Outcome Model and an Evaluation Toolkit, including quantitative and qualitative methodologies, to guide the organization’s future evaluation strategies.This Capstone was made possible with the support from an anonymous donor through FJC: A Donor-Advised Fund.

Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO)

Employment Retention for Formerly-Incarcerated Individuals
CEO provides employment placement and retention services to newly released, formerly-incarcerated individuals. Historically, such programs focused on job placement as the desirable outcome. However, a recent shift in emphasis to job retention requires study and development of additional workforce development techniques. CEO requested: a review of existing research and analogous programs for potentially useful practices; analysis of employment data maintained by CEO; and an identification of commonalities among CEO clients who have held jobs for significant periods. Accordingly, the Team: performed a literature review examining standards, approaches, programs, and existing research; analyzed CEO’s internal data to assess the impact of CEO programs on job retention; and conducted a survey of CEO participants who maintained employment at least 180 days to identify characteristics supporting long-term employment and determine what kinds of programs help address barriers to retention. The team found useful common threads among programs and studies it researched, identified issues and opportunities emerging from CEO’s internal data, and drew some conclusions from its survey of CEO participants. The Team believes these results will help CEO improve employment retention outcomes among participants.

New York City Human Resources Administration

Barriers to Employment for WeCARE Clients
Recognizing the importance of addressing barriers to employment in helping hard-to-serve public assistance recipients obtain self-sufficiency, the City of New York Human Resource Administration sought an evaluation of the WeCARE (Wellness, Comprehensive Assessment, Rehabilitation, and Employment) program's ability to assess individual health barriers and the attainment of self-sufficiency by clients. The WeCARE Capstone team analyzed demographic trends in existing administration data, used data collection tools including client surveys to demonstrate satisfaction with services and self-identification of barriers, employed genograms to identify multiple health barriers within clients' families, and reviewed relevant policies/legislation in the field of social services in order to analyze how prevalent barriers affect the WeCARE client population's potential to obtain self-sufficiency.

New York City Office of Emergency Management

Community Emergency Response Team
Since 2003, the New York City Office of Emergency Management (NYCOEM) has operated the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program as a part of its emergency response and preparedness strategy. The program consists of an 11-week training that uses the basic curriculum established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and adjusted to incorporate some of the unique aspects of an urban environment like New York City. The purpose of this Capstone project was to conduct the first formal evaluation of the CERT program since it began in New York City in 2003 and give NYCOEM the tools to assess the effectiveness of the CERT training curriculum and evaluate the CERT team’s ability to integrate within their communities post-training. The Capstone team presented NYCOEM with a product they could use to educate, train, and guide all present and future CERT team members, including best practices for team building, communication, outreach and fundraising strategies. The areas the Capstone team chose to focus on were (1) an analysis of the current CERT program and trained teams, (2) recommendations for an outreach/communications addendum to the CERT curriculum, and (3) fundraising strategies for CERT teams to self-sustain and empower themselves. Methodology used to collect necessary information were direct analysis, one-on-one interviews, focus groups and surveys. This Capstone was made possible with the support from an anonymous donor through FJC: A Donor-Advised Fund.

Palladia, Inc.

Fathers Initiative Project
Palladia, one of the largest nonprofit, multi-service agencies in New York City, recently adopted a family-focused approach to its work and was interested in enhancing its services specifically for fathers. The goal of the Palladia Capstone project was to assist the organization in better understanding the fathers in its substance abuse treatment programs, the role they play in their children’s lives, and what types of programs and services would help them achieve their fathering goals. In order to provide Palladia with this information, the Capstone team conducted a literature and policy review, researched similar program models, interviewed current staff and clients, and analyzed Palladia’s current data.

Urban Justice Center – Community Development Project

Strategies to Support CDP Growth and Sustainability
The Community Development Project (CDP) of the Urban Justice Center (UJC) is a local intermediary that provides litigation, research and policy, and technical and legal assistance to community-based organizations from low-income communities in New York City. As part of an on-going strategic planning process, CDP submitted a proposal to NYU Wagner’s Capstone program to assist the organization in three main areas: developing performance measures for CDP’s work, assessing client (partner) satisfaction with CDP services, and improving external communication, with special emphasis on enhancing CDP’s fundraising abilities and communication with funders. The Capstone team conducted a series of focus groups with CDP staff as well as 26 interviews with a sample of CDP partners, local and national intermediary organizations, and funders. These interviews, combined with academic research, informed the primary recommendations in the Capstone team’s final report. The report also includes a review of key policy issues affecting CDP’s work, themes and findings from in-depth interviews, logic models of CDP service areas, a comprehensive communications plan, and recommendations for CDP with respect to fundraising, service delivery and performance measurement.