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 BAM engaged a Capstone team to evaluate its outdated vendor payment process and identify opportunities to improve efficiency and robustness.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.

Organizational Evaluation and Implementation Plan

Client
Break A Difference
Faculty
Geoff Davenport
Team
Bonnie L. Oliva, Camille Wynter, Justin Thompson, Geshawn L. Williams

Break a Difference (B.A.D.) is a fiscally-sponsored nonprofit organization whose mission is to make positive impact in communities by engaging individuals through service. Working with the United Way, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and other local groups, B.A.D.’s signature program is Alternative Spring Break (ASB), where thousands of student volunteers participate in week-long immersive service programs at one of nine sites nationwide. As B.A.D. adds additional sites, the organization faces the challenge of scaling rapidly while simultaneously maintaining the quality of service. A Capstone team was tasked with creating a business plan that can function as a blueprint for sustainable growth. The team conducted an analysis of existing systems and financials, researched best practices, and attended a local ASB. The team’s final report included a detailed marketing plan, an operational toolkit, a fiscal policy manual, and an outline for how to establish an independent nonprofit organization with 501(c)3 status.

Operationalizing Code Blue for Subway Outreach

Client
Bowery Residents’ Committee
Faculty
Erica Hamilton
Team
Adenike Olanrewaju, Allisson Knoll, Amanda Matthews, Elise Bergerson, Kristy Buller

Founded in 1971, the Bowery Residents’ Committee (BRC) is one of New York’s leading housing and homeless services providers. With its $68 million budget, BRC operates 27 programs designed to help clients achieve self-sufficiency. Last July, BRC contracted with the NYC Department of Homeless Services and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to oversee expanded outreach efforts throughout New York City’s subway system. Recognizing that outreach is even more critical during times of extreme weather, BRC engaged a Capstone team to evaluate the City’s Code Blue policy—an emergency procedure designed to protect the most vulnerable New Yorkers. Originally developed for street homelessness, Code Blue needed to be retrofitted in order for BRC to meet continued contractual obligations and protect at-risk clients from exposure-related injuries or death. The Capstone team interviewed BRC staff, shadowed outreach teams, analyzed data, examined Code Blue documents, and conducted industry research. The team’s final report sought to modify Code Blue for subway operations, placing a greater emphasis on high-density locations.

Enhancing Philanthropic Impact

Client
Asian Women Giving Circle
Faculty
Rona Affoumado
Team
Janice Lam, Nicole Moriarty, David Joshua Portalatin, Carlos Rodriguez, Paulina Toro

The Asian Women Giving Circle (AWGC) is committed to effecting social change and transformation by funding traditionally underfunded art projects led by Asian American women throughout New York City. The Capstone team was engaged to leverage AWGC’s position in the philanthropic community by identifying improvements in its grant making process, assisting the organization in better engaging with its grantees, and providing recommendations to scale up its impact in the Asian American community. The team designed standardized questions for administering interviews as well as pre- and post-perception change surveys to AWGC grantees.  The team revised AWGC’s end-of-year reporting structure and provided actionable management recommendations. From its findings, the team created a quotebook containing compelling grantees’  stories for marketing purposes.

Social, Urban, Rural, and Resilience Global Practice Supporting the Global Lab on Metropolitan Strategic Planning

Client
World Bank Group - MetroLab
Faculty
Paul Smoke
Team
Renato Berer, Jorge E. Hernandez, Alvaro Soldevila, Jamie Walker

In April 2013, the World Bank and the Regional Plan Association (RPA) of New York launched the Global Lab on Metropolitan Strategic Planning (MetroLab) in New York City. The MetroLab community of practice is part of a program of activities and services involving peer learning, virtual knowledge exchange, and high-level face-to-face workshops and consultations. MetroLab’s objective is to enable participants from different cities around the world to jointly explore solutions for shared concerns and challenges on a regular basis. The Capstone team was engaged to produce a set of materials that aid the MetroLab in facilitating a meaningful dialogue between stakeholders. Through background research, consultations with a range of stakeholders, and involvement in various events, the team targeted and produced specific learning materials for MetroLab participants on three key Metropolitan topics: public private partnerships, resiliency through infrastructure investments, and information system centers.

Capacity Building through Capital Investment Plan Development in Four Bangladeshi Cities

Client
World Bank - Urban Division - Bangladesh
Faculty
Paul Smoke
Team
Najwa Doughman, Hannah Kates, Amalia Toro Restrepo, Jwanah Qudsi

An international financing institution, the World Bank provides loans to developing countries for capital programs. In Bangladesh, the World Bank is in the beginning stages of developing Capital Investment Plan (CIP) templates for all participating cities. Based on principles of good public management, the CIP is intended to provide local governments with a method for establishing and maintaining a regular process of planning and funding capital investments. This would ensure that financial resources are used efficiently while also serving as a capacity building tool. Building on visioning workshops which identified priority infrastructure projects, the Capstone team further developed formal CIPs for four Bangladeshi municipalities: Comilla, Feni, Khulna, and Narayanganj. The collaborative development of the CIPs enabled the cities to agree upon economic development and public service delivery through a consensus building process; establish investment priorities, project costs, and timelines over the next five years; and identify and assess financing and investment strategies.

Improving the Effectiveness of Gender Mainstreaming Initiatives at UDSM

Client
University of Dar es Salaam Gender Centre
Faculty
Kathleen Apltauer
Team
Katie Beverlin, Sallie James, Micah Nelson, Shelby Quackenbush

The mandate of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) Gender Centre and its affiliated student organization, the Gender Club, is to mainstream gender policies and programs across the University. The Centre’s work includes student and faculty engagement and research. The Gender Centre requested a Capstone team for a second year to improve external communications and identify University-wide engagement opportunities. The team interviewed staff and students in Tanzania to understand the current barriers to successful Gender Centre and Gender Club programming. Using information from interviews and observations, the team made updates to the Gender Centre’s website and developed actionable tools to improve the Centre’s communications techniques, including a user guide for the long-term maintenance of the site. The team also developed a strategic planning resource for the Gender Club to help students communicate its vision and goals, and the actions needed to achieve them.

Family Planning 2020

Client
United Nations Population Fund
Faculty
Kate Bourne
Team
Maureen Ahmed, Brianna Bates, Pam Campos-Palma, Mariquit Lu, Christalyn Steers McCrum, Chris Thursby

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) aims to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted and every childbirth is safe in order to expand the possibilities for women and girls to lead healthy and productive lives. The UNFPA launched Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) as a global initiative to increase access to family planning services for an additional 120 million women and girls in 69 countries by 2020. UNFPA engaged a Capstone team to assist in setting FP2020 indicator targets for 23 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa. The team completed a literature review and consulted with stakeholders with trips to Uganda and South Africa. Referencing Uganda as a case study, the team constructed a model, centered on a rights-based approach, which focused on increased quality of care within family planning services. The team recommended strategies to increase identified countries’ abilities to successfully implement family planning initiatives while ensuring valid evaluation methods.

Creating a Climate-Neutral Organization

Client
United Nations Population Fund
Faculty
Kathleen Apltauer
Team
Grace Ren, Jasmine Christine Nears, Jessi Luckett, Shaoyun Huang

Under the leadership of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN agencies and governments have advanced global efforts to combat climate change. The operations of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) achieved climate neutrality in 2015, five years earlier than the 2020 deadline for UN agencies. To maintain and foster its outstanding progress, UNFPA enlisted a Capstone team to generate a Referenced Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) report that presents a comprehensive look at the organization’s economic, social, and environmental sustainability. The completion of the GRI report involved a stakeholder analysis survey, one-on-one interviews, and an analysis of the organization’s carbon emissions data that was collected from over 140 UNFPA country offices. The GRI report will allow decision-makers within UNFPA to better understand and communicate their accomplishments, both internally and externally, and to identify opportunities to achieve its sustainability goal. Additionally, the report serves as an international, standardized record that further strengthens UNFPA’s commitment to remaining a climate-neutral organization.

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