Capstone Courses and Projects

DUMBO Improvement District

Developing Short-term and Long-term Fundraising Strategies for DUMBO Improvement District
The DUMBO Improvement District is one of 60 Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in the City of New York. The BID is funded by local commercial property owners, and its budget is used to provide improvements such as keeping the streets clean, advocating on behalf of the community to public and private stakeholders, helping DUMBO go green, and bringing more public art to the neighborhood. The BID's provision of services and role in bringing capital improvements to the neighborhood exceeds the organization's primary revenue source ? the annual special assessment. Accordingly, the BID sought the assistance of the Capstone team in articulating a development and fundraising agenda. The team researched various corporate, foundation, and governmental grants suitable for the BID, analyzed the feasibility of increasing the annual assessment, and conducted a peer group analysis of NYC BIDs. The report details the Capstone team's findings and recommendations on how the BID could expand its fundraising strategies to achieve its goals.

Fiscal Management Associates

New York City Nonprofit Organizations: Fiscal Health Indicators Database
Fiscal Management Associates (FMA) provides fiscal consulting services to nonprofit organizations by enhancing knowledge and skills to successfully fulfill their missions. Currently FMA has a wealth of experience guiding its understanding of what works to achieve or maintain organizational fiscal health, but lacks hard data in some areas. FMA asked the Capstone team to launch a research project aimed at creating a database containing detailed financial and management information from local nonprofit organizations with annual budgets equal to $15 million or less, with particular focus on the areas of education, health and human services, and housing and settlement. The process of data collection included in-person interviews with several chief financial officers, online surveys, and the retrieval of information from F990 and financial statements. By collecting, organizing, and storing data in one centralized location, a powerful tool will be created for identifying specific best practices among effective and financially efficient nonprofit organizations.

Mississippi Center for Justice

Combating Payday Lending in Mississippi
Payday lenders can charge fees of $22 per $100 borrowed for a two-week short-term loan, which is the equivalent of a 572 annual percentage rate. Borrowers frequently cannot repay their original loan and have to take out additional loans, trapping the borrower into a cycle of debt. Mississippi has one of the highest concentrations in the nation, and attacking the abusive nature of predatory payday lending in Mississippi requires a coalition of multiple stakeholders who can energetically work together to limit the use of payday lenders. The Capstone team developed a four-pronged strategic plan to meet both short- and long-term needs and includes strategies for legislation, community organizing, financial literacy, and identifying financial resources to support alternative loan products.

Order of Saint Helena

Achieving Sustainability: Financial Assessment and Recommendations for a Religious Order
The Order of St. Helena (OSH) is an Episcopalian order located in Augusta, Georgia that is comprised of 22 sisters. For the past several years, OSH has incurred an increasing budget deficit. Upon review of OSH's available financial data, the Capstone team created a comprehensive analysis of OSH's fiscal activities and decisions and identified OSH's strengths and weaknesses. In formulating recommendations, the team employed surveys, interviews, academic research, and data benchmarking methodology to determine possible sources of revenue and strategies to decrease expenses. Additionally, the team provided OSH with a feasible and practical framework that would allow the organization to overcome financial challenges and to remain sustainable.

Pike County Public Library

Securing Revenue and Managing Financial Operations in an Expanding Organization
The Pike County Public Library (PCPL) sought to address the competing challenges of increased usage and insufficient capacity at its main branch and two satellite branches. Unable to meet the needs of the county's 60,000 residents, the PCPL has begun the process of building a new state-of-the-art headquarters facility with the goal of increasing capacity and expanding its programs. The Capstone team worked with the PCPL to identify a new and stable funding source that will help ensure the long-term sustainability of the PCPL, specifically a dedicated countywide library tax imposed by referendum. After examining the PCPL financial operations and researching library tax referenda results from other Pennsylvania counties, the Capstone team prepared a primer on planning for a referendum campaign, a case study of past referenda, a series of projected PCPL operating budgets based on varying revenue and expense forecasts, and an analysis of a public opinion survey about the library and a potential tax.

Rock School for Dance Education

Determining Efficacy of Current Programs and Developing a Business Plan for Program Expansion Opportunities
The Rock School for Dance Education is one of the nation's premier schools for classical ballet training with a $4 million budget and an annual enrollment of more than 1,000 students at facilities in Philadelphia and West Chester, Pennsylvania. The School annually awards more than $500,000 in scholarships, maintains a year-round residence program in Philadelphia for 32 students, and provides a cutting-edge high school program for the most focused young dancers. The education component provides artists with a unique blend of pre-professional training, performance experience, and college-preparatory academics to ensure that they are both well-trained and well-educated. Faced with increased competition and a dynamic funding environment, The Rock School requested a Capstone team to develop a business plan to financially sustain the organization in the future. To inform this effort, the Capstone team conducted market research and undertook a five-year financial statement analysis.