Capstone Courses and Projects
Fire Department of New York
The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) currently employs almost 12,000 firefighters, but fewer than 1% of them are women. The FDNY is seeking to increase these numbers so that its firefighter workforce will better reflect the diversity of the population it serves. The FDNY employed the Capstone team to gather both quantitative and qualitative data from past research studies, interviews with the FDNY's current female firefighters, and a survey of women between the ages of 15 and 30. The team made recommendations to the FDNY in regard to what characteristics, if any, predict greater interest in becoming a firefighter, how and where to locate these women, and what types of marketing messages are more appealing to them. These recommendations will provide a point of reference as the FDNY begins its new recruitment campaign.
Free Arts NYC
Free Arts NYC provides underserved children and families with educational arts and mentoring programs that help them realize its fullest potential. Many of its programs take place under the auspices of other organizations, and its relationship with their OnSite Coordinators (OSCs) - the staff who oversee the Free Arts programming in their organization - is critical, as the OSCs' performance directly impacts the quality of three Free Arts programs. The Capstone team was asked to help Free Arts more clearly understand, strengthen, and support this partnership role. OSCs from partner agencies were surveyed and interviewed to get an 'insider' understanding of the OSC role and identify the challenges specific to OSC performance. The data were then analyzed to produce a comprehensive set of materials to help Free Arts best support high functioning OSC relationships, including a handbook that outlines Free Arts NYC's policies for the position and recommendations for systems of accountability.
National Council for Research on Women
In an effort to ensure the full utilization of the research produced by the National Council for Research on Women's network of member centers, the Capstone team conducted an internal and external audit analyzing the organization's current position in the marketplace. To achieve this outcome, the team administered an online survey to the Council's member centers and conducted a series of interviews with the Council's staff, executive leaders at select member centers, members of the Board of Directors, independent organizations not currently partnering with the Council, and potential funders. Analysis of the data collected allowed the Council to better understand its public image and the overall environment in which it operates, determine its strengths and weaknesses, and identify potential partnerships for growth. The results of this audit will be incorporated into The Council's case statement and strategic plan.
Founded in 1970, Palladia, Inc. is one of the largest nonprofit, multiservice agencies of its kind in New York City. In its tenth year partnering with Capstone, Palladia commissioned a Capstone team to develop a model for an alumni association for its substance abuse treatment programs. Primary project goals were to explore the feasibility of using an alumni association to gather outcome data and to deepen Palladia's approach to substance abuse recovery. The Capstone team engaged in internal research consisting of staff interviews and focus groups with current participants in substance abuse programs as well as with alumni of such programs. External research focused on interviews with peer organizations as well as a literature review. Strong interest in an alumni association was identified by key stakeholders. Recommendations include a model for a Palladiawide alumni association as well as an exploration of the ways in which the association could support Palladia's goals of obtaining outcome trends and supporting alumni in their continued recovery.
Asphalt Green is a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting individuals of all ages and backgrounds to achieve health through a lifetime of sports and fitness. Asphalt Green was recently awarded a contract to operate a community center in Battery Park City scheduled to open by January 2012. At a crucial stage of expansion, the Capstone team was charged to conduct an extensive scan of the community and cultural landscape in Battery Park City and surrounding areas, including Community Boards 1, 2 and 3. Information gathered included demographics, public schools, senior services, community sports leagues, youth and senior organizations, pools, and arts organizations. The results of the community scan will assist Asphalt Green in understanding existing resources and its programming value to the community's unmet needs. The report summarizes these findings and provides recommendations for Asphalt Green to consider with respect to identifying the strongest potential partners for community and cultural programming.
Imagine Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to nurturing creativity and imagination of at risk children through the performing arts. The Imagine Project presents its program at a variety of homeless shelters, schools, and community centers throughout New York City. Founded in 1992, the program is designed to provide children with a unique creative outlet and training ground in which they learn to cultivate and treasure the imaginative process. Imagine is at a key turning point as it is eager to expand its program reach to touch as many children as possible. In order to do so, internal processes and board participation needs to be optimized. After an in depth analysis, the Capstone team compiled and analyzed this information to produce recommendations to help Imagine perfect its internal processes. A program guide was also created in order to help educators truly understand the Imagine program and eventually recreate the program at other locations. These recommendations will aide in guiding Imagine as it creates a solid financial structure, builds an effective board, continues to expand its partnerships, and focuses on taking its internal processes to the next level.
Council on Accreditation
The Council on Accreditation (COA) partners with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards. Currently at a critical juncture in its expansion, COA regards workflow, efficiency, effectiveness, and staff morale as significant components for the organization's continued and future success. The Capstone team was tasked to work with COA to isolate existing workflow constraints, identify best practices from related fields, and craft recommendations to promote efficiency and effectiveness. The Capstone team gathered data by conducting interviews and focus groups and surveying COA's staff. The team's final report provided COA with research and recommendations that will assist the organization in its efforts to achieve its organizational goals and, more specifically, improve workflow. The final research deliverables will allow the organization to recognize methods that will maximize efficiency and reduce staff workload. Optimally, these recommendations related to workflow will also positively affect employee morale and customer satisfaction.
The Innocence Project
The Innocence Project is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustices. Recently, the organization experienced both an increase in individuals offering to volunteer and a greater internal need to use volunteer assistance to reach programmatic goals. Without a formal volunteer system in place, the Innocence Project has not been able to take full advantage of the numerous offers from individuals wanting to volunteer. The Capstone team tackled this issue by assessing the current volunteer needs of staff members, researching best practices and current trends in volunteer management, and exploring volunteer management software options. The team then designed a comprehensive volunteer management system; strategy and process for the Innocence Project, including a software plan; procedures for staff to communicate volunteer needs; outlines of handbooks for volunteers and volunteer supervisors; and recommendations for the new system's overall implementation.
New York Women's Foundation
The New York Women's Foundation (NYWF) has awarded over $19 million in grants to hundreds of local grassroots organizations working toward the creation of an equal and just future for low income women and girls in New York City. The NYWF requested a Capstone team to identify the benchmarks critical to a successful internal evaluation process. Through the implementation of this process, the NYWF can measure the impact of its grantmaking activities. The Capstone team conducted literature reviews, meetings with staff members, interviews with nonprofit consultants and peer organizations, and a competitor analysis. These findings informed the Capstone team's recommendations to the NYWF about how to engage in a process that will effectively measure the impact of its work. Key findings and recommendations were organized into a comprehensive summary report that will guide the NYWF as it continues to develop internal evaluation processes and procedures.
Uri L'Tzedek is a social justice organization that seeks to engage, empower and inspire the Orthodox Jewish community to create a more just world. Dedicated to combating suffering and oppression, Uri L'Tzedek creates discourse through community based education, leadership development and issue based advocacy. Now in its third year of operation, Uri L'Tzedek is evolving from a startup organization into a dynamic fixture in the Jewish social justice and Orthodox communities. With a growing community presence and increasingly diverse programs, Uri L'Tzedek sought to assess its activities and internal systems to maximize the organization's impact. The Capstone team created a two-year organizational development plan, with particular focus on the areas of development, communications, operations and governance. Using a demographic analysis of the American Orthodox Jewish community, the Capstone team recommended key messaging and fundraising strategies. The team also documented Uri L'Tzedek's current operations and programs to identify measures of success, craft an organizational logic model, and make comprehensive governance and policy recommendations.