Capstone Courses and Projects

New York City Fire Department

Improving FDNY Surge Capacity: Lessons from the Blizzard of 2010
The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) is one of the largest emergency response organizations in the world, housing both New York City’s firefighters as well as its 911 first responders. Surge capacity, which is needed to respond to both predictable and unpredictable situations over a sustained period of time, remains one of the largest challenges facing FDNY. Through this lens, FDNY requested a Capstone team to analyze its response to the December 2010 blizzard. Research methods included a review of academic research on surge capacity, an analysis of the FDNY’s internal documentation of storm response, and interviews with a wide variety of internal and external stakeholders who played a critical role in the blizzard response. The final report will serve as an internal training tool for FDNY employees as they move up the organizational ladder. In addition, the report is designed to open up a broader conversation among emergency response organizations about best practices in building and deploying surge capacity overall.

The Fortune Society

The Intersection of Incarceration and Food Insecurity in New York City
The Fortune Society is a national leader in providing innovative, holistic services to formerly incarcerated men and women, as well as in operating a comprehensive alternative to incarceration program. Throughout the organization’s forty-year history, there has emerged a clear link between the incidence of incarceration and food insecurity. In recent years, The Fortune Society has begun to explore how it can help clients and their families access the healthy foods they need. The Capstone team researched the landscape of food access in New York City and surveyed Fortune Society clients about their experiences with food insecurity. The final report documented the research findings and a GIS map illustrating the relationship between criminal justice involvement and food access in New York City. This map and the corresponding report will serve as a resource for The Fortune Society as the organization develops new food-based client services and advocacy initiatives.

New York City Department of Probation

STARS Realigned: Reengineering Probation’s Performance Management System
The New York City Department of Probation (DOP) is implementing a new model of probation designed to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of public safety. This approach leverages case management tools to track the progress of probation clients, as well as assessment tools that reflect client assets, interests and risk to public safety. DOP asked the Capstone team to re-imagine its current performance management system, STARS. The Capstone team developed a critical assessment of current indicators through extensive research on best practices for data-driven probation services management strategies, site visits, and interviews with adult and juvenile operations teams. The team delivered a set of recommendations for improvements to the collection and presentation of data and ongoing performance measurement at DOP.

Opening Act

Process Monitoring and Evaluation Systems for a New York City After-School Program
Opening Act is a free, year-long, after-school theater program that provides students attending New York’s most under-served public schools with weekly theater instruction from an experienced teaching artist. After eleven years of operation, Opening Act is at a critical stage in its development as a service organization. Opening Act is currently developing a long-term strategic plan that includes expanding the number of schools it serves, diversifying funding streams, and improving programming. The Capstone team subsequently developed and standardized the organization’s data collection and evaluation systems. The team designed and administered student surveys, attendance systems, and progress evaluations. To inform these efforts, the Capstone team conducted site visits and interviewed staff, teaching artists, students, and peer organizations. In a final report, the Capstone team provided Opening Act with recommendations as to how the new tools and protocols can be used to demonstrate the impact of the afterschool program to potential funders.

New York City Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services

Needs Assessment and Program Design
As part of Mayor Bloomberg's Young Men's Initiative, The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, in cooperation with the Economic Development Corporation, is seeking to develop an entrepreneurship program designed to reach economically disconnected African-American and Latino men in New York City. The Capstone team project included an assessment of the needs and capabilities of this population, research into current programs that might be used as models, and investigation of other City programs that might be used as resources. A final proposal was made to Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs describing the program's design.