Best Practices for the Trial Discharge Process

Client
New York City Administration of Children’s Services
Faculty
Louisa Chafee
Team
John Vasilios Andreo, Mischa Karplus, Eveline Wong, Zheng Zhong

The Administration of Children’s Services (ACS) is a New York City government agency that ensures children’s safety and well-being, as well as family stability. Among other responsibilities, it ensures child welfare by overseeing services that support families in taking care of their children, as well as providing foster families when services are not sufficient. ACS also investigates cases of neglect and abuse. ACS engaged a Capstone team to determine best practices in trial discharge, which refers to reunifying children with their families on a trial basis to ensure families can take care of their children. Success means parents regain complete custody of their children. A Capstone team interviewed personnel and researched services in other jurisdictions that focus on this trial discharge period to identify promising models that ACS can incorporate into its services. The team also interviewed ACS staff, and produced a final report including recommended best practices for ACS’s trial discharge process. 

Developing Sustainable Fundraising Strategies at a Volunteer-Led Organization

Client
New York Choral Society
Faculty
Merle McGee
Team
Dariana Castro, John Evans, Maria Hermosilla, Pakchanun Rerngprasertvita, Rachel Saxton, Elizabeth O.M. Williams

The New York Choral Society (NYChoral) is a vibrant musical community which believes in the power of music to impact lives and enrich the cultural life of New York and beyond through its world-class and creative performances. Since strategic fundraising can pose capacity challenges for volunteer-led organizations, NYChoral engaged a Capstone team to help develop a strategic fundraising plan. To understand how NYChoral’s mission-driven volunteers can contribute to the organization’s fundraising strategy, the team examined best practices for building organizational capacity through multiple fundraising and volunteer frameworks. They conducted an external scan consisting of both competitor and peer organizations to identify patterns in the sector. The team’s final recommendations reflect the best practices identified in the sector and include a plan to leverage existing fundraising structures and capacity while also cultivating new donors.

The Financial Benefits of Adopting NSTIC-Aligned Identity Solutions

Client
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Faculty
Karen Schlain
Team
Dana Affinito, Lola Ajayi, Viji Alagiri, Jiaxin Li, Henry Wang

When every website requires users to create a different username and password for online access, remembering login information can be challenging. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) believes users should be able to reuse the same login information to conduct a variety of online transactions—across the government and private sectors—in a way that is secure and privacy-enhancing. This vision aligns with the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), a White House initiative signed by President Obama in 2011. To demonstrate the potential benefits to the federal government of reusing login information, NIST engaged the services of a Capstone team to conduct an analysis of widespread adoption of this technology. The Capstone team surveyed officials from multiple agencies to collect data on each agency’s current practices and the associated financial costs, and worked with staff from NIST and other federal agencies to determine the financial calculation methods. The team estimated benefits and costs of adopting this technology and extrapolated to estimate government-wide cost savings if all federal agencies were to adopt it.

Best Practice Analysis of Business Lending Credit Unions

Client
National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions
Faculty
Norman Steisel
Team
"Lingbo Cai, Hyeyoung Na, Zheng Pan, Qinqi Yao, Mor Zoran "

The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions provides safe and responsible financial services to underserved communities. Since 1974, the Federation has been promoting financial inclusion by organizing, supporting, and investing in community development credit unions (CDCUs). Today, CDCUs face significant hurdles in developing a sustainable business lending division due to high costs and insufficient information. A Capstone team was tasked to provide CDCUs with best practices of top-performing business lending credit unions and small banks, encouraging them to grant loans to small businesses. Through the analysis of financial data, the team’s report identified top-performing business lending credit unions and small banks. Additionally, the report included a best practice analysis in order to make operational recommendations for improving CDCUs’ business lending capacity. The report also compared growth projections of CDCUs that have not yet developed business lending operations with credit unions that have done so successfully.

Measuring Performance and Improving Workshop Evaluations

Client
Legal Services NYC
Faculty
Mel Raoul
Team
Sonia Balaram, Andrew Farwell, Kenrick Fraser, Andrew Lease, Debora Aponte Martinez

Legal Services NYC (LSNYC) was established in 1967 to fight poverty and seek racial, social, and economic justice for low-income New Yorkers. As part of its mission, LSNYC’s Learning Center offers legal education workshops to attorneys, paralegals, and LSNYC staff. The Learning Center is the largest poverty law education program in the country. LSNYC engaged a Capstone team to assess and enhance the Learning Center’s current performance measurement and workshop evaluation system. The team conducted interviews with staff members to identify LSNYC’s desired outcomes and held focus groups with workshop participants. The team combined this data with a literature review of best practices for educational program evaluation and a study of similar organizations in the field of legal education. They proposed a new digitized evaluation form and process, as well as recommendations for implementation.

An Ingredient Playbook

Client
Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies
Faculty
Louisa Chafee
Team
Nicole Kenny, Di Liu, Melissa Rosenberg, Marissa Semkiw, Alice Wong

Founded in 1886, Johnson & Johnson is one of the world’s oldest and most trusted providers of consumer care products. Over the last decade, however, Johnson & Johnson has faced significant challenges in shaping perceptions of the health, safety, and environmental sustainability of its personal care products. As a result, Johnson & Johnson has faced public policy, regulatory, and reputational challenges. To assist the client in understanding the origin and escalation of product ingredient issues, the Capstone team examined three cases—parabens, microbeads, and the “toxic tub”—in which public concern about ingredients resulted in policy responses or reputational issues. The team’s review identified key stakeholders, trigger points, and milestones in each case. Based on this analysis, the Capstone team crafted a “playbook” to highlight key points of engagement and to guide Johnson & Johnson on strategies for addressing ingredient issues more effectively.

Viability and Sustainability Factors of a Professional Development Program

Client
Hidden Sparks
Faculty
Merle McGee
Team
Erica Ayala, Peter Collazo, Kathryn Gonzalez, Jacob Stolar

Founded in 2005, Hidden Sparks aims to meet the needs of diverse learners within Jewish day schools both in and beyond New York City. Its pedagogy and model, informed by the work of educational researcher Mel Levine, provides educators and administrators with the tools and strategies to better understand and teach children with social, emotional, and learning differences. Hidden Sparks enlisted the services of a Capstone team to assess whether its professional development model is sustainable and viable within its partner schools. The team interviewed teachers, administrators, and professional development coaches in three day schools, shadowed professional development sessions to view the trainings in action and participants’ responses, and developed case studies based on interviews and observations from each of the day schools.

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Affordable Homeownership in New York City

Client
Habitat for Humanity New York City
Faculty
Karen Schlain
Team
Rasheida Alston, Maria Coco Dalmau, Ruoxi Liu, Gabriel Foguel, Ling Ye

Habitat for Humanity New York City (Habitat NYC) serves low- and middle-income working families in New York City by building affordable and quality homes and rebuilding homes devastated by natural disasters. New York City has a long history of providing affordable housing to its residents, but affordable homeownership has been omitted from recent policy approaches. In order to raise awareness of the value in affordable homeownership, Habitat NYC engaged a Capstone team to conduct a data-driven research project on its benefits. Through the study’s findings, Habitat NYC hopes to increase funding and policy support for affordable homeownership as a key tactic in tackling the city’s housing crisis and also gain more investment in its current housing plan. The Capstone team reviewed existing literature to identify the academic and theoretical context of housing issues. Based on the data collected from affordable housing organizations and city databases, the team also conducted quantitative resear

Therapeutic Horsemanship Programs Expansion Toolkit

Client
GallopNYC
Faculty
Normal Steisel
Team
Luke Bosher, Jennifer Hur, Zoya Kolkin, Namrata Puri, Asuka Qin

GallopNYC, a nonprofit organization that provides therapeutic horsemanship programs to children and adults with disabilities, has an ambitious plan to expand its programs to serve more people across New York City. This expansion involves setting up new sites across four boroughs, primarily serving clients with disabilities as well as the broader community. GallopNYC engaged a Capstone team to develop a toolkit for all new potential sites that assesses the feasibility of services and operations. The toolkit provides GallopNYC with methods and frameworks for assessing community needs, analyzing competitors and partners, and conducting financial modeling that includes different pricing strategies and sensitivity analyses. The team also completed a case study that applied the toolkit to a potential new site in order to determine its feasibility and recommend potential program design and pricing.

Analysing and Evaluating the Disaster Grants Management Process

Client
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Faculty
Normal Steisel
Team
Cong Cong, Elisabeth Young, Emmanuel Hernandez, Lois Aryee, Marietta Carre

An agency of the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is responsible for coordinating the U.S. government’s response to disasters. Its mission is to ensure that the nation is adequately prepared for, protected against, and capable of responding to and recovering from disasters. An important aspect of FEMA’s work involves grants administration. It provides Individual and Public Assistance (PA) Grants, which support larger-scale cost-intensive projects, such as infrastructure reconstruction. FEMA engaged a Capstone team to generate evidence-based information about the expenses and human resource investments involved in the PA grant administration process. The team conducted an extensive literature review of FEMA’s PA grant process, used data to quantify costs associated with various components of grants administration, and determined important patterns and trends that are associated with the process. The team’s final report outlined recommendations for streamlining and enhancing the efficiency of the grants administration process, specifically the management of time, money, and personnel.

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