Capstone Courses and Projects

Asphalt Green

Asphalt Green Expansion
Asphalt Green is a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting individuals of all ages and backgrounds achieve health through a lifetime of sports and fitness. Asphalt Green's programming has outgrown their 5.5 acre campus and the organization is looking to grow their program off-site in order to increase their impact on underserved communities. The team's goal was to develop a strategy for a new growth phase that includes additional off-site collaborations, space rentals, partnerships, and continued expansion of programs for underserved communities. This process involved considerable research, identification of potential stakeholders, relationship development, and planning. The team made recommendations on opportunities for collaboration based on ease of implementation, strategic relevance, and mission alignment. The Capstone team identified strengths and weaknesses that relate to program development and replication through a SWOT analysis. The team also provided a keen understanding of the political landscape in New York City and recognized the potential challenges and opportunities presented by collaboration with other organizations.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City

Evaluation Plan for Youth Development Training Center
Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of New York asked a Capstone team to create an evaluation plan for three of its Training Center's programs: Professional Development Workshop Series, Borough Mentoring Networks, and Technical Assistance. In order to do this, the Capstone team first created definitions of success for each program through in-depth conversations with external capacity-building experts and BBBS staff. Next, the team conducted a literature review of evaluation models, with a particular focus on the Donald Kirkpatrick model and its criticism. The team also spoke with comparable training and technical assistance agencies about their best-practices. The final deliverable resulted in a viable evaluation plan that will enable BBBS to facilitate long-term program development while responding to funder needs.

Brooklyn Arts Council

Brooklyn Arts Council Through a Kaleidoscope: Assessing Perceptions from an Artistic Community
The Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC), a long-standing presence in the Brooklyn arts community, has recently experienced significant growth. Due to this development, BAC sought an impartial understanding of its role within the Brooklyn arts community, integrating perspectives of both internal and external stakeholders. The Capstone team provided BAC with insights concerning its role in the Brooklyn arts community by utilizing surveys and informal interviews targeted at BAC's current and untapped constituencies. The resulting data highlights BAC's strengths, constituents? unmet needs, and potential areas for organizational and programmatic development. This information will enable BAC to clarify its purpose and position itself effectively within the Brooklyn arts community.

Congregation B'Nai Jeshurun

Community Building Initiative
The Capstone team supported Congregation B?nai Jeshurun's Community Building Initiative, which was established in 2008, to create a more welcoming environment for the synagogue's membership. With over 3,000 members, the synagogue faces the challenge of promoting a strong sense of community for its large membership base. In partnership with B?nai Jeshurun staff, the team conducted external research, exploring relevant literature and interviewing other large congregations. The team also conducted internal research, including a synagogue-wide survey, house meetings, and one-on-one interviews. Results from the external and internal research helped the team propose infrastructural, programmatic and small adjustment changes to help the synagogue promote feelings of connection and community for its members.

Free Arts NYC

Best Practices: Creating Diversity through Volunteer Recruitment and Retention
Free Arts NYC is an organization that delivers creative arts programs directly to low-income, homeless, abused, and neglected children. Volunteers act as mentors and create an environment for the children to express themselves through art projects. The Capstone team's goal was to advance Free Arts NYC's strategic plan of program expansion by growing and diversifying their pool of trained volunteers. The team conducted a demographic analysis of active Free Arts NYC volunteers; gathered volunteers? feedback through focus groups and interviews; analyzed best practices of similar organizations; and extensively researched new partnerships and volunteer sources in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. Through a systematic process for recruitment and retention of a diversified volunteer base, the Capstone team will present a statistical report of existing volunteers, recommendations for recruiting new volunteers, and a list of potential new local partners in each of the operating areas.

Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning

Assessment of the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning Community Workshop Program
Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (JCAL) is a nonprofit organization that offers visual, performing and literary arts, arts education and artists? programs to encourage participation in the arts and to contribute to the cultural enrichment of the children and adults of Queens and the Greater Metropolitan area. JCAL charged the Capstone team with conducting an assessment of their largest education program, the Community Workshop series, which provides opportunities for people of all ages to participate in affordable arts education workshops. The team researched and analyzed trends in the arts, competitor offerings, program costs and structure, marketing practices, pricing strategy, enrollment trends, and client demographics. They also conducted surveys, focus groups, and interviews with workshop participants, instructors, and staff. Based on their findings, the team outlined a series of recommendations on how JCAL can maximize the program's earning potential while improving the services provided to their constituencies.

Jewish Community Project Downtown

Strategic Planning for a New York City Nonprofit Organization
Jewish Community Project Downtown (JCP) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to meeting the needs of Lower Manhattan's diverse Jewish population by encouraging them to connect to others through educational, cultural, social, and artistic programs. Now at a pivotal point in its development, JCP requested a Capstone team to determine how to strengthen and grow the organization. The team decided that a 6-step strategic planning process was the best option and facilitated this process in partnership with an eight member committee of JCP staff, board members, and donors. The 6-step strategic planning process involved: (1) developing an organizational profile; (2) reviewing mission and vision statements; (3) completing an environmental assessment and SWOT analysis; (4) developing strategies, goals, and objectives; (5) writing the strategic plan; and (6) implementing the strategic plan. The team utilized surveys, demographic studies, focus groups, interviews with key stakeholders and funders, and financial information to inform and guide the committee in developing the strategic plan.

Jewish Outreach Institute

Creating a Program Model for Men?s Engagement
The Jewish Outreach Institute (JOI) is dedicated to creating a more welcoming and inclusive North American Jewish community for all, including unaffiliated and intermarried families through outreach, advocacy, education, and support. In order to achieve its mission, JOI offers a myriad of innovative programming that spans across the United States and Canada. To address the widely known issue in the Jewish community of men's decreasing involvement, JOI requested that the Capstone team develop a model for men's programming with the intent of launching the program nationally. The Capstone team conducted an extensive literature review, researched existing programs, and interviewed Jewish leaders to identify the qualities of a successful program to engage unaffiliated or disengaged Jewish men or non-Jewish men married to Jewish women. The exploration stage of the project produced insights and best practices that the Capstone team used to develop its recommended program model and accompanying research report.

New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Analysis of the Current Print Media Coverage of Domestic Violence in the New York State Area
Media coverage of domestic violence cases has long been a source of concern for those who work to end domestic violence. In order to make stories attractive to readers, it is not unusual for cases to be sensationalized by reporters who have a limited knowledge of the dynamics of domestic violence. The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) is an executive level state government agency that was created by a provision of the New York State Executive Law in 1992, and the mission of OPDV is to reduce domestic violence in New York State by improving the State's local response to and prevention of domestic violence, ensuring that everyone can feel safe in their personal relationships. The three main objectives of this Capstone project are to research and analyze current print media coverage of domestic violence throughout New York State, conduct a literature review of other jurisdictions? findings, and to make recommendations as to how OPDV could improve the State's media coverage of this issue.

New York City Department of Education's Office of School Leadership

Exploring the Feasibility of Pursuing the Registration of Alternative School Leadership Training Programs
The New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) is the largest public school system in the country and serves over 1 million students in nearly 1,500 schools. NYCDOE's Office of School Leadership asked the Capstone team to explore the feasibility of pursuing the registration of alternative school leadership training programs by the New York State Department of Education. The team researched which organizations provide alternative training/certification for school leaders in the United States and identified each state's rationale in granting alternative routes, and the challenges and lessons learned throughout the process. The team interviewed program administrators and evaluated best practices for achieving state recognition for alternative certification programs, including a description of the process to attain state recognition. The final paper includes recommendations on how NYCDOE and its partners can best pursue state recognition of alternative training programs for school leaders given this national context.

New York City Department of Youth and Community Development

Youth and Runaway Services TIL Program Assessment
The Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) funds programs designed to protect runaway and homeless youth and whenever possible, reunite them with their families. DYCD's Transitional Independent Living (TIL) Programs provide homeless youth (16-20 years of age) with support and shelter for up to 18 months, as they work to establish an independent life. The goal of the Capstone project was to examine youth who utilize TIL programs and evaluate circumstances after they are discharged from the programs. The team also provided recommendations for how DYCD can better tailor its discharge planning process in conjunction with the TIL sites to meet the needs of runaway and homeless youth. The Capstone team reviewed client files for youth discharged during Fiscal Year 2008 and interviewed TIL providers regarding their discharge policies and services utilized by clients. An in-depth assessment of this information, together with recommendations, will contribute to a better understanding of the outcomes for youth who participate in TIL programs, help DYCD to make informed policy decisions, and direct limited resources more effectively.

Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation

Designing and Aligning Program Models and Organizational Outcomes: A Stakeholder Evaluation
Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, a Brooklyn-based arts outreach organization, offers programming to underserved youth. After determining the need for comprehensive program assessments, Rush staff partnered with a Capstone team to develop an evaluation plan, tools necessary for implementation, and preliminary survey results. The first step of the project required the collaboration of Rush executives and the Capstone team to identify desired program outcomes, which were subsequently mapped into program theory models. Based on these models the team created surveys to be administered to the following Rush stakeholders: youth, teachers, teaching artists, and parents. Responses from the surveys were then compiled and presented to Rush in order to provide the organization with information necessary for program assessment, development, and funding applications. Finally, in order to promote the continued use and ultimate mastery of the survey tools, the Capstone team trained the Rush executives on survey implementation and maintenance, and provided an instruction manual for ongoing future evaluation.