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.

Improving Volunteer Recruitment and Management

Client
Episcopal Charities of the Diocese of New York
Faculty
Erica Hamilton
Team
Michael Czaczkes, Victoria Oyaniran, Kenza Sijelmassi

Representing the outreach arm of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, Episcopal Charities provides grants and support for over 90 program sites in New York City and the Hudson Valley. Programs range from children’s education and skills building to meals programs and health and wellness. Exploring more effective ways to support its programs, Episcopal Charities engaged a Capstone team to determine the feasibility of creating a volunteer clearinghouse. The team performed a literature review, feasibility study, case study, and cost benefit analysis. It also conducted a survey of program leaders and other stakeholders. In its final report, the team recommended establishing an online volunteer matching service, the hiring of a full-time volunteer coordinator, and the creation of new volunteer development procedures. The team’s recommendations are intended to create a stronger infrastructure for supporting Episcopal Charities’ affiliate programs.

Aging in Place in New York City

Client
Enterprise Community Partners
Faculty
Elizabeth Hoagland
Team
Jessica Kalache, Katherine Fitzpatrick, Price Campbell, Rachel Botos, Safina Shao

Enterprise Community Partners (ECP) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending housing insecurity through strategic investment, partnerships, and advocacy for improved housing policies. Considering New York City’s growing senior population and an extreme shortage of affordable senior housing, ECP tasked the Capstone team with conducting a gaps and needs analysis and developing policy recommendations on housing, services, and funding solutions that improve seniors’ ability to live safely and independently in their homes and communities. The Capstone team performed a literature review and interviewed housing providers, service providers, and public agencies to understand the needs of seniors aging in place and the landscape of senior housing and services. Based on these findings, the team developed a toolkit to serve as a resource

Soliciting Client Feedback to Guide Strategic Decision Making

Client
Community Resource Exchange
Faculty
Mel Raoul
Team
Jennifer April, Sarah Kukin, Marvin Lalin, Richard Laraway, Chelsea Sexton

For over 30 years, Community Resource Exchange (CRE) has provided management consulting services to New York City’s community-based nonprofit organizations with a vision to create a more equitable and livable city for all New Yorkers by reducing poverty and advancing social justice. To better assess its impact, CRE requires a comprehensive system to collect, aggregate, and analyze client engagement data. Such a system will help CRE to assess the effectiveness of CRE consultants, communicate client satisfaction for marketing and funding efforts, guide strategic decision making, and assess the impact of its service portfolio. CRE engaged a Capstone team to evaluate the organization’s existing data collection methods and to offer recommendations for improvement. The team conducted a market scan of competing firms’ strategies and tactics, authored a literature review of industry best practices, developed a new survey system to better capture client satisfaction, and provided a framework for implementation and inclusion into current CRE programs.

Nonprofit Voter Engagement

Client
Common Cause NY & Community Votes
Faculty
Thehbia Hiwot
Team
Brian Harrison, Alexia Makrigiannis, Michael Manocherian, Ilyssa Meyer

Common Cause NY provides a voice for citizens in support of open, honest, and accountable government at all levels. Community Votes, a nonprofit organization, partners with community-based social service organizations to conduct nonpartisan voter mobilization so more underrepresented citizens participate in our democracy. Both committed to civic engagement, the two organizations partnered to enlist and enable nonprofit organizations to participate in voter engagement work. The organizations engaged a Capstone team to develop a deeper understanding of nonprofit employees’ attitudes and relationships toward the promotion of voting and civic engagement. The team developed and implemented a survey of nonprofit employees. They analyzed and synthesized the results in a clear and digestible way so that Community Votes and Common Cause NY could use the data to recruit more nonprofit organizations to participate in voter engagement work with their clients.

Evaluation of New York City’s Adherence to Good Government Principles

Client
Citizens Union
Faculty
Joan Montbach
Team
Justin Hui, Bryanna O’Malley, Hannah Peterson, James Sowell, Noelle Williams

Citizens Union is one of New York City’s oldest civic watchdog organizations. Since 1897, it has worked to ensure fair and open elections, honest and efficient government, and a civically-engaged public. In 2014, Citizens Union released a blueprint for New York City’s elected officials with principles to guide their decision-making towards making democracy work for all New Yorkers. These principles included creating a culture of transparency, holding open and accessible elections, effectively and efficiently administering services, and maintaining a merit-based city workforce. Citizens Union engaged a Capstone team to create an evaluation framework to measure whether city officials are adhering to these principles. The team conducted industry research, analyzed available data sources, and created evaluation metrics. The final report outlined recommended metrics to track the City’s adherence to the good governance principles and recommended missing data that Citizens Union could lobby the City to include as a part of the annual Mayor’s Management Report.

Redesigning Job Descriptions to Promote Stronger Performance Measurement and Management

Client
Child Center of New York
Faculty
Mel Raoul
Team
Stanley Celius, Courtney Heywood, William Karnadi, Christopher Lee

The Child Center of New York’s (CCNY) mission is to support children and families by providing opportunities, training, and the emotional support needed for them to lead happy, healthy, and successful lives. In addition to offering behavioral health and child abuse prevention programs at clinics across New York City, CCNY collaborates with City public schools to provide early childhood day and afterschool programs, as well as youth development programs. The Capstone team was engaged to evaluate existing job descriptions of the organization’s 1,000+ frontline staff. The team collected data from an organization-wide survey and staff interviews to assess discrepancies and inconsistencies in existing position descriptions and titles. Based on data analysis, a literature review on job descriptions, and the organizational structure, the Capstone team designed new job descriptions and streamlined titles that promote standardization and consistency across the organization. The revised job descriptions will ensure clarity of expectations for employees and managers, and form the basis for developing a performance measurement and management system at CCNY.

Neighborhood Needs Assessment Analysis and Strategic Planning Recommendations

Client
Brooklyn Legal Services
Faculty
Thehbia Hiwot
Team
Bingyan Fan, Candace Lee, Amber Lynn, Carola Zurob

Since 1967, Legal Services of New York City’s Brooklyn programs have provided legal advocacy and information on a broad range of topics to low-income residents. Working on behalf of both individual clients and client groups, Brooklyn Legal Services (BLS) partners with neighborhood and legal organizations to promote racial, social, and economic justice. In 2015, BLS undertook its first borough-wide needs assessment in order to better understand neighborhood needs and the challenges that residents in low-income communities face in accessing legal services. BLS engaged the services of a Capstone team to analyze the data gathered during the needs assessment and provide guidance on how to leverage this data in its strategic plan. The team provided feedback on surveys, advised BLS on focus group design, participated in focus groups, interviewed BLS staff, analyzed data, and conducted best practice research on strategic planning.

Improving Efficiency of Vendor Payment Processing

Client
Brooklyn Academy of Music
Faculty
Geoff Davenport
Team
"Alison Garforth, Shraddha Kothari, Qiaoqi (Joy) Liu, Andres Piedrahita, Bardhyl Qarri "

The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) has brought world-renowned programming in theater, dance, music, opera, and film to New York City for more than 150 years. The organization is programmatically diverse, with more than 32 departments submitting all expenses, revenues, and budgets for review and processing by an 11-person Finance Department. BAM engaged a Capstone team to evaluate its outdated vendor payment process and identify opportunities to improve efficiency and robustness. Through interviews with BAM employees and peer organizations, the team determined industry best practices and tested the feasibility of business process improvements and new technologies under consideration. The team’s final recommendations outlined strategies for increasing automation, streamlining review procedures, and enhancing end-use trainings and tools.

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