Capstone Courses and Projects

Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health

Improving Access: Identifying Barriers to Services for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals
The Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health (AAIUH) designs, incubates, and replicates community­based behavioral interventions that empower individuals to address health disparities in urban communities. AAIUH implements several barbershopbased health interventions that train barbers to serve as lay health advocates. The organization is currently developing the ACCESS project, a barbershopbased program that seeks to increase the number of formerly incarcerated minorities utilizing social services that promote successful reentry. AAIUH requested a Capstone team to assist in clarifying the barriers facing the target population when attempting to access services and identify strategies that may increase access. The Capstone team researched current literature regarding barriers to successful reentry and developed and administered a questionnaire for service providers to document barriers at the local level. The final report outlines findings and provides recommendations to practitioners, policy makers, and prison officials.

Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A

Developing Logic Models and Evaluation Tools to Increase Understanding of the Impact of a New York City Legal Services Nonprofit Organization
Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A (Brooklyn A) contracted with the Capstone team to research and design logic models and an impact evaluation tool for two practice areas that provide legal counsel and representation to community­based organizations and low­income tenants in North and East Brooklyn: Community and Economic Development Unit (CEDU) and Group Representation Unit (GRU). Through interviews with a variety of stakeholders, the team explored the role and impact of Brooklyn A as an intermediary within the larger context of health and housing initiatives in lowincome communities. The Capstone team produced several deliverables for Brooklyn A: four logic models (two each for CEDU and GRU) that explicate the program theory and primary and secondary outcomes of Brooklyn A's work; a report compiling research and recommendations regarding logic model design and use; and a survey tool enabling Brooklyn A to improve performance measurement and tracking, assess program outcomes, and communicate the contribution of legal services to outcomes of partner organizations and the community at large.

The Partnership for the Homeless

Supporting and Preventing Homelessness among the Elderly in the South Bronx
The Partnership for the Homeless devel­ops programs and initiatives to eliminate the root causes of homelessness and pro­vide support for homeless individuals. To address the prevention of homelessness among the elderly in the South Bronx, the Partnership engaged a Capstone team to research demographic needs, possible service models, and model feasibility. The team developed a three­phased project that included census tract analysis identi­fying existing service providers in the designated census tracts, a literature review of existing national program models, and the development of a business plan prototype. The team's final recommendations included suggested partnerships with specified service providers, incorporation of best practices from existing models, and operational procedures for program success.

Applied Research Center

Impact Evaluation of the Drop the "I" Word Campaign
The Applied Research Center (ARC) is a racial justice think tank dedicated to advancing social justice through research, advocacy, and journalism. The Capstone team was asked to design an impact eval­uation system to measure the success of Drop The I­Word (DTIW), a new advocacy campaign which asks media outlets, organizations, and individuals to pledge to eliminate usage of the word “illegal” when referring to undocumented immigrants, in favor of other less racially­charged terms. The evaluation system assessed the cam­paign's progress on reaching its identified short and long­term goals, and is flexible enough to be adapted for future cam­paigns and initiatives. The team designed and tested the system against the objec­tives of the first six­month phase of DTIW (Oct '10March '11). The team also provided training on the system to ARC staff to ensure that evaluation becomes an integrated part of the campaign and the organization.

Hebrew Free Loan Society

Re­Engineering the Immigrant Student Aid Program
Hebrew Free Loan Society (HFLS) pro­motes economic self­sufficiency in New York by providing interest­free loans. One of its largest programs, Immigrant Student Aid, helps immigrant parents from the for­mer Soviet Union finance higher education for their children. While the cost of higher education has skyrocketed since the terms for this program were originally set, the loan program (including maximum loan amount and amortization schedule) has never been adjusted. The Capstone team conducted a literature review, statistical analysis of existing borrowers, phone surveys with former and potential borrowers, and inperson interviews with potential borrowers in Bensonhurst and Sheepshead Bay. The team developed several alternative loan products and analyzed how they would impact HFLS financially. The team then compiled this research and analysis to produce a report of findings and recommendations to assist HFLS in reengineering its Immigrant Student Aid loans to best meet the needs of its target market. The report's recommendations provide a point of reference for HFLS as it embarks on its third strategic planning process.

National Council for Research on Women

A Strategic Approach to Improve Collaborative Opportunities and Marketing Initiatives
The National Council for Research on Women is a network of 120 leading research, policy, and advocacy centers committed to improving the lives of women and girls. The Council provides the latest news, information, and strategies to ensure fully informed debates, effective policies, and inclusive practices. The Council is now in a position to think about strategic growth and requested the Capstone team develop strategies for the Council to become a more integral resource to the women's and progressive communities. The Capstone team performed an environmental scan to provide a deeper understanding of the field and surveyed partner and nonpartner organizations to determine what organizations seek from collaboration. The report's recommendations provide a road map for the Council to develop new marketing strategies and collaborative opportunities to strengthen its reputation in the field of women's research and policy.

New York State Office of Children and Family Services

The State of New York State: Parent Education Programs for At­Risk Families
The Office of Children and Family Services serves New York by promoting the safety and well­being of children, families, and communities within the State. The pur­pose of this Capstone project was to look comprehensively at parent education pro­grams across New York. The team con­ducted a literature review, developed a summary of parent education programs, and assessed best practices in parent edu­cation through a survey distributed to all New York State agencies. The team also created a database of parent education programs and foster care agencies. The Capstone team made informed recommendations about the most effective programs for atrisk parents to help the Office of Children and Family Services reduce the reentry rate of children into foster care.

Palladia, Inc.

Employment Outcomes Analysis
Palladia empowers individuals to become active, productive members of the commu­nity through programs aimed at easing the struggle with addiction, homelessness, domestic violence, and trauma. Palladia wanted a more concrete understanding of the systemic obstacles its clients face in the job market in order to develop new strategies to improve outcomes. The Capstone team was enlisted to help Palladia better understand these barriers and to provide recommendations on how the organization can improve employment outcomes in the future. The Capstone team developed a set of recommendations after conducting a series of staff inter­views, client focus groups, meetings with potential employers, and competitor inter­views and analysis.

YWCA of the City of New York

Needs Assessment of East New York and Brownsville
The YWCA of the City of New York is dedi­cated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for citizens through­out New York City's five boroughs. The YWCA is working with the City of New York to apply for a federal Promise Neighborhood Planning Grant to serve the communities of East New York and Brownsville, Brooklyn. The YWCA requested that the Capstone team conduct a needs assess­ment of these communities that could be used as part of the application. The Capstone team conducted research about the demographic breakdown of the region, the political and programmatic history of Promise Neighborhoods, and best prac­tices around needs assessment and com­munity interviews. The team then interviewed community leaders and surveyed commu­nity members. The quantitative and quali­tative data gathered will inform both the types of programs established by the YWCA and the funding applications to sup­port these programs. The final report pro­vided the YWCA with a phased strategy for executing the Promise Neighborhood plan­ning process and identifying potential partners for its implementation.

Main Street Legal Services

Case Management and Systems Administration for a Complex Legal Services Program
Main Street Legal Services (MSLS) is the clinical training program at CUNY Law School. MSLS has seven clinics, each of which operates as an independent silo of activity, with its own administrative proto­cols for case intake, case tracking, record keeping, communications, and conflict checking. The organization approached the Capstone team for advice on how to manage seven divergent practice areas in a coordinated fashion and implement and enforce uniform administrative protocols across the clinics. Of specific concern was the failure of many clinics to maintain comprehensive case records in the shared electronic case management system. The Capstone team conducted a review of the organization's administrative practices, surveyed key stakeholder groups (faculty, staff, students), and contacted other law firms and clinical programs to identify best practices in the field. The final report con­sisted of internal research findings, best practices of peer institutions, and recom­mendations that will streamline adminis­trative processes to strengthen the provision of quality client services and legal instruction.

National Human Services Assembly

Identifying Practices that Increase Ethnic and Racial Diversity of Senior Management
The National Human Services Assembly is an association of national nonprofits working in the fields of health, human and community development, and human serv­ices. One of the Assembly's current priori­ties is to identify practices that increase ethnic and racial diversity within the sen­ior management of member organizations. Although much has been written about workplace diversity in general, little research has focused specifically on diver­sity outcomes within senior management. The Capstone team examined this issue through primary and secondary research. The team distributed surveys to Assembly member CEOs and human resources lead­ers, conducted focus groups, and inter­viewed several industry experts. The team shared its findings in a best prac­tices guide that can be used by the Assembly, its members, and other non­profits to extend the benefits of diversity to all levels of staff and management.

Women's World Banking

Increasing Volunteer Management Effectiveness
Women's World Banking (WWB) is a glob­al network of 40 microfinance providers and banks working in 28 countries to bring financial services and information to low­income entrepreneurs. As the organization expands its strategic agen­da, the need for broader human resources— specifically a more expansive volunteer network—is increasingly critical. The Capstone team developed a model for­malizing WWB's volunteer management to increase its ability to more effectively utilize this human capital. To accomplish this, the Capstone team interviewed WWB leadership, staff, and volunteers to develop a framework of current volunteer usage and future needs, conducted interviews with benchmark organizations, and researched best practices and volunteer management theory. For the final project, the Capstone team presented a set of strategic recommendations and a program management model to help WWB to advance its goal of enabling women to build a secure financial future for themselves and their families