Capstone Courses and Projects

Citizen's Committee for Children of New York

A Policy Analysis of the Educational and Service Needs of Adolescent Girls in NYC
"For this project, Capstone members conducted research and fieldwork that were used to develop a public policy and advocacy agenda to inform and improve the education and youth service system's response to the service needs of adolescent girls in New York City. Capstone members prepared a literature review assessing the current state of the needs of adolescent girls in New York City, as well as how education and youth service institutions currently address these needs. The Capstone team interviewed key stakeholders in education and youth service institutions and conducted focus groups with adolescent girls in New York City. The final product was a report delivered to the Citizens' Committee for Children offering programmatic, legislative, and budgetary solutions that will be used to improve services for adolescent girls in the areas of education and youth development. "

"City of Miami, Division of Economic Initiatives"

Within Reach: Housing Solutions for Miami's Workforce
"Millions of working families across the country struggle to find decent, affordable places to live. This is especially true for the City of Miami. The City's Division of Economic Initiatives requested a Capstone team to recommend strategies to provide housing for the city's essential workforce. The team completed an analysis of current market conditions and conducted stakeholder interviews. Additionally, the team completed a review of best and emerging practices in workforce housing nationwide. The policy options were analyzed based on the local conditions and needs of the City of Miami to produce final recommendations and an implementation structure. This report recommends creating an innovative employer­assisted housing fund that could help attract and retain the workforce that is essential for Miami's economy. "

Greyston Foundation

Performance Management for the Greyston Foundation
"The Greyston Foundation supports low­income individuals and families in Yonkers, NY, as they forge paths to self­sufficiency and community transformation. The Capstone team was charged with analyzing the performance measurement practices at Greyston in an effort to increase program effectiveness and to identify a structure for best practices in outcome measurement. To do this, the Capstone team examined Greyston's current performance management practices and developed a measurement tracking tool for three of twelve programs at the organization. This system will also serve as the prototype for Greyston's overall outcome measurement protocol: the Child Care Center (CCC), Yonkers' only NAEYC accredited day care; Issan House, a residence for people living with HIV/AIDS; and the Greyston Bakery, a social enterprise that serves the ""double bottom­line"" of reducing the Foundation's reliance on external funding sources in addition to providing jobs and training for an entry­level workforce within Yonkers. "

Jersey City Housing Authority

Evaluating the Impact of the HOPE VI Public Housing Revitalization Program on the Families of the Lafayette Gardens Housing Development
"With a $34.1 million HOPE VI grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Jersey City Housing Authority (JCHA) demolished the severely distressed 492­unit Lafayette Gardens housing project, and in its place built several low­rise, mixed­income developments. As part of this HOPE VI project, 483 families living in Lafayette Gardens were relocated to the new developments, existing JCHA facilities, or placed in the open market with or without Section 8 rental housing vouchers. The JCHA commissioned the Capstone team to evaluate the impact of the HOPE VI project on the lives of these 483 families. Through the use of mailed surveys, interviews, and an analysis of existing data on the families, the team examined the effects of the HOPE VI program on the financial outlook, health, and perception of neighborhood quality and crime on the families of Lafayette Gardens. "

New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications

311 Customer Satisfaction: Assessing Awareness and Understanding
"311 is New York City's phone number for government information and non­emergency services. The Capstone team effectively measured the public's experience with the services provided by 311 through an online survey on nyc.gov and a phone customer satisfaction survey. The team also interviewed various stakeholders to gauge their awareness and understanding of 311 in order to define their expectations and measure their satisfaction. The need to assess 311 – what it is and what it is not – across various groups of stakeholders is important to understanding and recognizing different stakeholders' definitions of customer satisfaction. The Capstone team conducted interviews and research, and designed two customer satisfaction surveys. Based on the results of the surveys, the Capstone team made recommendations that serve to enhance and expand 311's customer service delivery and marketing. "

New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance

Transforming Practice: From Performance Measurement to Outcome Performance Management
"The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Services (OTDA) provides and/or oversees programs administered through 58 local districts: temporary cash and heating assistance; assistance in paying for food; child support enforcement; eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits; homeless housing and services; and assistance to certain immigrant populations. The Commissioner of OTDA requested this project to improve performance management, building on existing capabilities in performance measurement. The Capstone team examined the exchange of communication and measurement data between OTDA and local dis­tricts; solicited from various stakeholders recommendations for performance system changes; and conducted interviews with district commissioners, OTDA officials, relevant performance management experts, and officials from related state agencies. The team's literature review examined mechanisms utilized in other states that could serve as models for OTDA. Based on its research, the Capstone team recommended mechanisms with the best chances for success for OTDA. "

Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services for the City of New York

Development of an Electronic Food Stamp Application System in New York City
"Currently, the application for food stamps in New York City is a paper­driven process, whereas many other jurisdictions have made at least part of their processes electronic. The team has performed an assessment of and will make recommendations on how NYC's food stamp application and recertification processes could be streamlined technologically. Possibilities include replacement of in­person interviews with phone calls and in person document submission with electronic submission to enhance the application experience and speed of determination to allow eligible New Yorkers to gain access to services. To accomplish this, the team has worked with various food stamp program and policy staff in New York and other states to conduct a nationwide scan of food stamp application systems that involve electronic processes and identify which of these could be used in NYC and what waivers would be required prior to implementation. "

Osborne Association

NYC Initiative for Children With Incarcerated Parents: A Case for Counting and Tracking Children of Promise
"Every day in New York City children face the loss of a parent due to incarceration. Existing research does not account for the numbers, ages, gender or locations of these children, thus impeding the development and implementation of programs and services that address their specific needs and those of their caregivers. Through an extensive literature review, interviews with experts in the field, and interviews with New York City government agencies such as Administration for Children's Services, Department of Corrections, Department of Juvenile Justice, and the New York Police Department, the Capstone team has identified missed opportunities among New York City agencies to help children who have had, or currently have, a parent in prison. The report will offer recommendations for counting and identifying children as well as provide an organizational audit tool for agencies to assess to what degree organizational policies take into consideration both the existence and needs of children with incarcerated parents. "

Harlem Educational Activities Fund

Evaluating the Feasibility of Expansion for the Harlem Educational Activities Fund
"The Harlem Educational Activities Fund (HEAF) is a college preparatory and youth development organization whose goal is to assist students from educationally and/or economically disadvantaged communities to develop the intellectual and life skills necessary to succeed at New York City's most competitive public high schools and the nation's leading colleges and universities. In recent years, HEAF has seen an increase in the number of applicants from outside the Harlem community and has outlined efforts in its strategic plan to expand the program in order to serve more students. HEAF requested the Capstone team's assistance in assessing the feasibility of expansion. Through stakeholder interviews, surveys, and community asset mapping, the team assessed the feasibility of replicating two of HEAF's signature programs for middle school students by identifying potential geographic areas for expansion, recommending potential community partners, and outlining necessary operational components. "

The Office of Arts and Special Projects at the New York City Department of Education

"Evaluating the Impact of the ""Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts, preK­12"" "
"The mission of the Department of Education's Office of Arts and Special Projects (OASP) is to provide New York City public school communities with information and resources that will enable every student to achieve a full education in the arts. In 2004, the OASP introduced the “Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts, preK­12”, the first comprehensive, multi­dimensional framework for arts education for use throughout the NYC school system. To measure the impact of the Blueprint on teachers' classroom practice, the OASP requested a Capstone team to do an evaluation. The evaluation includ­ed an online survey to arts teachers, an analysis of survey results, focus groups to identify best practices, and interviews with arts teachers who had less experience using the Blueprint. The evaluation's find­ings provided data and analysis of the Blueprint's impact on teacher practice as well as information to support future OASP initiatives. "

University Settlement Society of New York

Fostering and Maximizing a Volunteer Relationship with New York University
"University Settlement (US), a settlement house located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, provides a broad range of services, including child care, senior services, after­school programs, and other community support services to its primarily immigrant community. In May 2007, US identified a need to develop an under­standing of its volunteer base and to seek recommendations on strengthening volunteer programs, particularly the ones it has with New York University (NYU). Through interviews and surveys conducted with key personnel at US and NYU, the Capstone team gathered data and other evidence to determine the extent of the impact of the current relationship, as well as an overall understanding of US's existing volunteer program. The report includes suggestions to US on how to maximize its volunteer efforts, utilize the community engagement resources at NYU, and strategies to improve the organization's volunteer programs. "

Environmental Grantmakers Association

Sustainably Yours: Improving Constituent Services
"Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA) brings together key players in environmental philanthropy to share, collaborate, and network. As the organization prepares for its upcoming strategic planning process, it seeks further information on how it can best service its member foundations and affinity groups. The Capstone team was recruited to make salient recommendations regarding member opinions and engagement, affinity group relations, and comparative practices in the field. The team developed and distributed a member survey, interviewed executive directors of eleven environmental affinity groups, and closely researched twelve grantmakers/funders associations for benchmarking. Team members analyzed results of these endeavors and wrote up a report of key findings and recommendations to inform EGA's strategic plan. The Capstone team also presented a narrative report of these findings to EGA's executive director. "

Family Justice

Corrections Culture Strength­Based Training
Family Justice sought for the Capstone team to add to its knowledge about its changing organizational culture in its pursuit to provide strength­based trainings to people who work in prisons. The Capstone team provided a literature review highlighting its research on corrections organizational culture and change. The literature review included information about creating sustainable culture change and considerations that are unique to corrections culture. Information gathered from the literature review and from interviews with professionals in the corrections field was then used to produce a white paper that details corrections culture change best practices that Family Justice can use to improve its training and technical assistance program in prisons.

Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement

Impact Evaluation of the HCCI Construction Trade Academy Program
"Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement, Inc., (HCCI) is a nonprofit organization committed to the revitalization of Harlem. HCCI provides an array of services to residents such as housing, job training, employment opportunities, and commercial revitalization. HCCI asked the Capstone team to evaluate its Construction Trades Academy (CTA), a short term program offered by HCCI that prepares residents with skills in the building maintenance and construction industries and offers successful graduates job placement and retention services. HCCI was interested in determining the effectiveness of the CTA program by evaluating whether the program leads to higher earnings, jobs in the construction or maintenance industries, and overall improvement in the lives of its participants. HCCI asked the Capstone team to conduct a process and impact evaluation of the program. The team reviewed the program process by assessing program materials, observing classes, and interviewing staff. The process evaluation will help identify the program's strengths and weaknesses and HCCI can modify its program, if needed. To determine the long term impact of the pro¬gram, the team utilized a comparison group, surveys, and statistical analysis to isolate the effects of the CTA program, make conclusions, and provide recommendations. "