Capstone Courses and Projects

Community Works

Scalable Fundraising Plan to Raise Unrestricted Revenue
"Community Works, based in New York City, is a 15­year young nonprofit arts and education organization that aims to strengthen communities and public school arts curricula through programs that honor local communities and unsung heroes. In recent years, Community Works has faced rapid growth that includes an impending move into the new Dwyer Cultural Center in Harlem as the resident arts program producer. With strong support from restricted funding sources and a nascent program in unrestricted giving, Community Works has great opportunities to increase its financial resources. This Capstone project's main objective is to assist Community Works in strengthening its capacity to raise unrestricted revenue by conducting a development audit, creating a fundraising plan, and incorporating prevailing fundraising practices from peer organizations in the arts and education sector. "

Human Services Council of New York City

The Return­on­Investment Created from Funding Human Services Programs
"Local human service programs operate under the chronic threat of budget cuts to already meager resources. Annual budget deliberations generally focus on the costs of these programs and rarely consider the benefits, despite the fact that these programs generate a significant return­on­investment – they help those being served avoid situations that require significantly more costly interventions. The Capstone team conducted extensive research into three existing areas focusing on the NYC region: alternatives to incarceration, supportive housing, and provision of early childcare services. The team examined and produced a report which empirically demonstrates the return­on­investment from funding human services programs. The report will be an important tool to inform elected officials, government administrators, and the public about the financial advantages from investing in this work, and the publication of such a document will improve the recognition of these programs as sound economic investments deserving of increased priority. "

Inwood House

Improving Nonprofit Operations Through a Fiscal Policies and Procedures Manual
"Inwood House is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping young people become healthy and self­reliant adults through pregnancy prevention, youth development, and teen family support programs. Following a recent expansion, Inwood House requested that a Capstone team assess the relationship between the fiscal and program offices, make recommendations to improve fiscal operations, and create an organization­wide Fiscal Policies and Procedures Manual. The Capstone team researched fiscal manuals and interviewed fiscal and program staff. The team drafted a Fiscal Policies and Procedures Manual and convened a task force of Inwood House program staff to edit and approve the manual. After finalizing the manual, the team conducted a train­the­trainer session to prepare Task Force members to train their staff on how to use the new Fiscal Manual. Based on feedback from the interviews and additional research, the team presented additional recommendations for Inwood House's Fiscal Office. The new manual, training, and recommendations will help align and connect fiscal and program staff in supporting Inwood House's mission. "

Low Income Investment Fund

Best Practices for Business Capacity Building in the New York City Childcare Sector
"The Capstone team was engaged to further the Low Income Investment Fund's (LIIF) goals to provide capacity building services to community based childcare providers serving low­income children in New York City. The team's work was per­formed in the context of a larger system revamping being planned by New York City's Administration for Children's Services (ACS). Partnering with LIIF, the Capstone team's main objective was to create a capacity building plan to model technical assistance and training for child­care providers in New York City. To that end, a need was noted to survey best practices nationally, inventory NYC's exist­ing services, dimension the need, and propose effective models for short­and long­term implementation, including public and private sector roles and cost analysis. The team's tasks centered on researching and cataloging childcare sec­tor business capacity building systems across the country, researching the current child care system in New York City, identifying NYC organizations and individuals that provide sector specific business/ capacity building assistance, and identifying recommendations for implementation of a business model for New York City. "

Mississippi Center for Justice

Strategies to Combat Payday Lending in Mississippi
"The Mississippi Center for Justice is a non­profit, public interest law firm committed to advancing racial and economic justice. The Capstone team was engaged to synthesize information about the payday lending industry in Mississippi and the effects such businesses have on residents and the state's economy. The Capstone team is also providing strategies and initiatives to encourage effective money management and saving, and discourage the use of high interest credit like payday loans. This information will assist the Mississippi Center for Justice and its partners, the recently formed Coalition Against Payday Lending, target their future efforts to combat payday lending, as well as develop and implement alternative credit access solutions. "

"New York City Council, Policy and Investigations Division"

How NYC Recreation Centers Can Improve Women's Health
"In 2007, the State of New York received an ""unsatisfactory"" grade in women's health from the National Women's Law Center. In response, New York City Council's Policy and Investigations Division was interested in assessing how New York City's public recreation centers can positively impact women's health. The Capstone team created a protocol to evaluate the current state of New York City's public recreation centers and visited a representative sample of them. The Capstone team then researched benchmark cities to find successful city initiatives targeting women's health. The Capstone team's final deliverable is a comprehensive analysis of New York City's recreation centers and recommendations for improving the quality of the recreation centers for the purpose of improving women's health in New York City. "

United States Government Accountability Office

The Tools of Public Action: Cataloguing Government Efforts to Increase the Availability of Affordable Housing in New York
"Over the past five decades, there has been an increase in the variety of ""tools of public action"" that the government has at its disposal. Analytic work on the cross­cut­ting and integrated nature of these tools is still relatively nascent in the federal government oversight arena. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has charged the Capstone team with developing a system for making sense of the universe of tools available. By clarifying the nature of the interactions between different types of tools, the system would seek to inform the decisions of policymakers regarding which types of tools to utilize. The team chose to focus its efforts on cataloguing the broad array of affordable housing tools available to aid New York City residents. Ultimately, the work will culminate in a comprehensive database of federal, state, and local programs which would allow the GAO to track current government efforts using a specific set of program characteristics. The database will be accompanied by a narrative report, which will include a discussion of the characteristics of existing programs and the relative lack of transparency around program costs, as well as a guide­book explaining the rationale for the choices the team made in constructing the database. "