Capstone Courses and Projects

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Increasing the Financial Capacity of the Continuing Education Programs at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
The Capstone team analyzed revenues and expenditures from certificate and non-certificate Continuing Education programs at Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) with the goal of increasing earned income to fund the garden's general operations. The team researched adult education curricula, course pricing, instructor pay rates, and registration policies at competitor and peer institutions to determine a baseline for industry standards, with a special emphasis on certificate programs in horticulture and floral design. Interviews with other divisions at BBG increased the team's understanding of organizational culture and the interrelatedness of garden operations affecting this project. Additional considerations were added to the project's scope including the implications of the current economic crisis on present and future budgets. The team analyzed course offerings and schedules, fees, and attendance rates to identify courses and certificate programs with the highest profit margin and the highest demand by students. This analysis yielded recommendations for scheduling, pricing, and registration policies for certificate and non-certificate courses at BBG in order to maximize Continuing Education program participation and revenues while adhering to the organization's overall mission.

Citizens Union Foundation

New York City and State Tax/Revenue Relationship
Citizens Union Foundation is a nonpartisan organization for good government which ensures New York local and state governments operate in a fair, open, and fiscally sound manner while informing and engaging its citizens. Citizens Union Foundation requested a Capstone team provide a quantitative and qualitative analysis on the tax and revenue relationship between New York State and New York City from 1998 to 2008. This tax and revenue structure is seen by many city residents as overly complex, antiquated and inequitable. The report focused on the history of how this relationship has been shaped over time and examined its effects on key areas of city services, specifically education and Medicaid. Finally the report examined how a few other city/state relationships compare to that of New York and the effect it may have on their ability to meet the needs of its citizens.

Jewish Community Relations Council

Forecasting the Financial Future of Jewish Cemeteries in the New York Area
The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) requested a Capstone team to review the finances of regulated Jewish cemeteries in New York. It has been suggested that the expenses of some of the regulated cemeteries in New York City will outdistance their income and reserves over the next 25 years. Absent outside funding, it is possible that some cemeteries will be unable to meet their significant future liabilities. The Capstone team worked with JCRC to quantify the extent of the problem and how much demand it will place on the communal dollars of Jewish nonprofits. The Capstone team developed a database of these cemeteries' publicly available financial information and produced a report that informs the Jewish community of the extent of the problem. Recommendations were submitted to JCRC regarding how to approach the problem from within the Jewish community. Finally, the Capstone team developed policy recommendations addressing state regulations and the amount of financial information reported by cemeteries to the IRS and the state.

Lenox Hill Neighborhood House

Marketing and Fee Structure Analysis
Lenox Hill Neighborhood House is a multiservice community-based organization that provides education and social services to over 20,000 individuals each year on the East Side of Manhattan and Roosevelt Island. The Capstone team devised a marketing plan and related data management tools for Lenox Hill Neighborhood House's fee-based programs, including their Fitness and Aquatics Center, Computer Training classes, and English for Speakers of Other Languages. The team conducted research on local competitors, market trends, and demand for the targeted services, in addition to surveying senior citizens regarding fitness and exercise interests. A financial model was developed to aid fee setting practices, and databases were created to streamline client demographics and feedback for future marketing efforts. Research results and recommended marketing strategies were presented in report format. Collectively, the recommended strategies and accompanying data management tools should play a vital role in maximizing revenue streams from the specified fee-based programs.

Mississippi Center for Justice

The Business of Child Care in Mississippi: Helping Providers Become More Efficient Through Improved Business Practices
There are approximately 1,800 licensed child care providers in Mississippi. While some of these providers serve more affluent clients and/or receive federal funding from the Head Start and Early Head Start programs, many low income providers struggle to breakeven and face constant financial hardship. The Mississippi Center for Justice, a public interest law firm, tasked the Capstone team with exploring how best to help these providers reduce financial stress and improve their operations in the current Mississippi child care environment. Over the course of the project, the team identified mechanisms for providers to operate more efficiently and examined the advantages of encouraging collaboration among groups of providers, as well as potential partnerships with participating Head Start centers. The team found that basic financial management skills, a sound understanding of regulations and making the administrative paperwork manageable are among the providers' greatest needs. The team developed a handbook for providers containing financial management and assessment tools, information on additional revenue sources and a set of best practices.

New York City Department of Education

Improving NYC Schools through Innovative Best Practices
Under the outdated "industrial model" of education utilized in New York City public schools, many students are ill prepared for the challenges they are faced with when they enter the work force. To partially mitigate these problems, the NYC Department of Education seeks to implement programs at individual schools and at the district level to use technology to promote student achievement by tailoring instruction to the individual needs of students. The NYC Department of Education requested a Capstone team to compile and disseminate a comprehensive taxonomy of innovative best practices that can be implemented by teachers and school leaders. The Capstone team researched, analyzed, and collected best practices from domestic and international school districts. Then, the team created an accessible report that would inform New York City school and district leaders on how to implement these best practices, highlighting various barriers or constraints, such as costs and legal concerns. The NYC Department of Education will then disseminate the report to teachers, principals, and district leaders, and use it for emphasis in implementing new programs.