Capstone Courses and Projects
City of Stamford - Solid Waste and Recycling Division
The Department of Solid Waste and Recycling in the City of Stamford, Connecticut is a municipal agency that manages waste collection and recycling. Despite efforts to increase participation in residential recycling, Stamford reached only a 9% recycling rate, far from Connecticut's statewide goal of 40%. The City of Stamford requested a Capstone team to assess barriers to recycling among residents and to make recommendations for improving rates. The Capstone team employed a grassroots data collection method, surveying hundreds of residents in community meetings, recycling centers, neighborhood business establishments, and through Stamford blogs. Concurrently, the team identified best practices for recycling through literature reviews and meetings with various neighboring municipalities and recycling organizations. The team matched this information with findings from the field surveys to compile a report of recommendations for the City. Additionally, each recommendation was paired with a suggested implementation plan, and the City will use this report to inform recycling policies.
CUNY School of Law
As a state-funded institution with an outstanding track record for graduating students who work in Public Interest Law, the growing success and planned expansion of CUNY School of Law will impact future staffing needs. The Law School asked the Capstone team to develop a staffing needs projection based on three major upcoming changes: the move to a newer, larger facility; the addition of an evening program that will add more students; and CUNY Law's implementation and maintenance of a new CUNY-wide administrative software system. The Capstone team's report provided the CUNY Law Administrators with staffing recommendations based on literature reviews as well as interviews and surveys conducted at CUNY Law, Queens College (the current administrative service provider for CUNY Law), CUNY Central, and other law schools relevant in size and structure.
Environmental Grantmakers Association
The Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA) provides its more than 220 member organizations with networking and learning opportunities to make them more effective in their work supporting environmental organizations and issues. For the past 10 years, EGA has been educating its members on issues around diversity and inclusive practices and created an Inclusive Practices Committee to implement organizational curriculum on these issues. The Capstone team worked with EGA and the Inclusive Practices Committee to design a member wide survey assessing EGA's efforts in this area from a member perspective. In addition, the team conducted interviews with Inclusive Practices Committee members, survey experts, organizations dealing with similar issues, and experts on the issues of diversity and leadership. The team also completed a literature review to investigate best practices in the field. Based on this research, the final report includes recommendations on how EGA can further enhance its efforts and serve its members in diversity and inclusive practices, as well as a communications plan and financial forecast for implementing these suggestions.
Legal Momentum is the nation's oldest legal advocacy organization dedicated solely to advancing the rights of women and girls with the aim to establish litigation and public policy strategies to secure equality and justice for women. The goal of this Capstone project was to prepare a study to assess the costs that employers face in implementing reasonable accommodations for victims of domestic violence. In order to complete this assessment the team developed a valid framework for evaluating these costs and compared it with existing cost methodologies. The team also created a reliable employer survey to estimate the cost impact of domestic violence policies in the workplace. The results of the study will give Legal Momentum information that can inform policy decisions and provide a framework for future research.
Young people ages 15-24 comprise almost half of the six million Americans who will become infected with human papilloma virus (HPV) this year. In addition, because of racial and economic disparities in health care, women of color and women in poverty are more likely to contract HPV, but are far less likely to receive treatment once they become infected. The Capstone team's client, Legal Momentum, a leader in establishing litigation and public policy strategies to secure equality and justice for women, was interested in examining ways to reduce and prevent HPV and cervical cancer. Through a multi-prong research approach, the Capstone team developed an advocacy strategy for Legal Momentum to pursue in New York City and nationwide.
New York City Department of Probation
This Capstone project is an implementation evaluation of two innovative employment programs for individuals on probation in New York City. The programs, Employment Works and the New York City Justice Corps, are mayoral initiatives funded through the Center for Economic Opportunity. Eligible probationers are referred to specialized services designed to help them obtain better paying and more meaningful employment. The project evaluates Department of Probation's role in the programs' assessment and referral process, and analyzes how closely this process matches the original design. The evaluation involves a series of key informant interviews with agency leadership, program managers, probation officers, and probationers, as well as an online survey, quantitative analysis, literature and document review, and in-person observations. The team will specify an audit protocol that outlines the procedures for replicating the program evaluation in the future, and will deliver a report that highlights successes and concerns, and makes recommendations for improvements.
New York City Housing Authority
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), along with other public housing authorities throughout the country, has seen a major decrease in subsidies from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development since 2001. Now, with a deficit of $198 million, NYCHA has requested a Capstone team to investigate the feasibility of a purchasing cooperative with the goal of creating a new revenue stream. An in-depth literature review and extensive research was conducted on the various models of purchasing partnerships, both in theory and practice, to see what best suits NYCHA's needs, size, and what can best leverage its sophisticated supply chain operations. The team designed and administered an online survey to 200 regional housing authorities to gauge interest and financial feasibility. Complementing the survey, the team conducted phone interviews with potential vendors and self-selected public housing authorities. Additionally, an evaluation of potential issues and barriers to implementation was also conducted with the team and NYCHA's legal department. The report synthesizes survey data and qualitative research yielding a detailed cost-benefit analysis and recommended next steps for NYCHA.
Many nonprofits are tasked with continually addressing and responding to issues of accountability, cost-effectiveness, program performance, and impact. One of the largest multi-service agencies in New York City whose services include a variety of substance-abuse treatment programs, Palladia wants to address the challenge of quantitatively demonstrating that their programs effectively improve and impact clients? behaviors over time. The Capstone project goal was to provide Palladia with a framework to conduct longitudinal program evaluation that will enable them to better track and understand the impact of their substance abuse interventions on client outcomes and to develop the operational infrastructure to track former clients and conduct such an evaluation. The Capstone team worked with Palladia to broaden the understanding of treatment and service provision by recommending mechanisms that appropriately assess the treatment success of clients.
Support Center for Nonprofit Management
The Support Center for Nonprofit Management provides services designed to increase the effectiveness of nonprofit leaders, enabling nonprofit organizations to better serve their clients and communities. Among their offerings, they provide Executive Leadership Services to guide organizations through periods of executive transition, an increasingly crucial juncture for organizations during this economic crisis. The Capstone team conducted an evaluation looking at both the academic perspective on leadership transition and the impact of the Support Center's transition services on the marketplace. A survey of Support Center clients and interviews with key leaders in the field were conducted in order to create an understanding of the services provided and their effectiveness. The final report's recommendations provide a point of reference for the Support Center as they look to expand their client base and position themselves as a leader in the field of transition management. The report will also highlight the overall benefits of Executive Leadership Services to the nonprofit sector.
United Way of New York City and The Office of New York City Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services
Increased service demand along with retrenchment by governments and donors make it critical that the City and nonprofits work together. The NYC United Way and the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, seeking to strengthen the nonprofit sector, confronted the problem that the sector is not well mapped. The Capstone team was given the task of identifying and appraising multiple publicly available data sources with the aim to develop a consolidated inventory needed to understand the scope and complexity of NYC's nonprofit sector. Past surveys began this process but were snapshots, not the continuing portrait needed for such a dynamic sector. Research included literature review, focus groups, and interviews analyzed to produce options for an online web portal, one tool in an expanding set of City resources. With additional data it can be used to analyze the functional and financial resiliency of NYC nonprofits.
Women In Need
Women in Need (WIN) is a New York City-based nonprofit organization that offers residential shelter in conjunction with support services to help homeless families achieve residential stability. Social support services include employment services, domestic violence counseling as well as HIV education and prevention services, which are intended to help clients address the underlying factors that often contribute to a family becoming homeless. Two of these shelters, Junius and Liberty, provide shelter and support to the bulk of the families served by WIN and are the subject of this Capstone project. WIN requested that the Capstone team conduct a comprehensive process evaluation of the two shelters to determine whether the social support services have been implemented as designed. This evaluation included the construction of program logic models, a review of management information systems, extensive interviews of staff and clients, and a literature review of relevant research on programs similar to WIN. Additionally, the Capstone team designed a framework for an impact evaluation to be conducted at a later date by WIN or another Capstone team.