Developing and Measuring Key Indicators for HR Management

Client
Médecins Du Monde Belgium (Doctors of the World Belgium)
Faculty
Kathleen Apltauer
Team
Lilian Aluri, Lenny Portorreal, Mehek Yousafzai, Tianyu Zhang

Médecins du Monde (MdM) in Brussels, Belgium, provides emergency and long-term medical services to some of the most vulnerable populations in the world. Its staff consists of volunteers and full-time workers. In need of an integrated tool to ensure faster and more precise management of the organization—especially its human resources (HR) department—the MdM executive team and board engaged a Capstone team to create a tool that will build on MdM’s organizational risk matrix and enhance its internal monitoring, evaluation, and learning processes. The team completed a literature review and conducted a field assessment with interviews from HR, operations, medical services departments, and key board members. The team synthesized its findings in a final report, categorizing MdM’s current challenges in HR and recommending a data visualization tool that the organization can use to monitor progress towards MdM’s Strategic Plan 2020.

Capstone Year

Examining the Effects of Public Financial Management on Service Delivery in Kenya

Client
Overseas Development Institute
Faculty
Paul Smoke
Team
Damilola Dauda, Sabrina Taveras, Hila Yarom

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) is an independent, global think tank that undertakes cutting-edge research and analysis to generate evidence, ideas, and solutions for a sustainable and peaceful world. ODI is conducting work to examine how public financial management affects service delivery in developing countries, and engaged the Capstone team to support its work on constructing better practices in the context of devolution reforms. The team explored the influences of the recent devolution process in Kenya on financing and management of service delivery in both the education and health sectors. The team traveled to Kenya, where it visited various facilities and interviewed multiple government officials and other stakeholders. The team also conducted an extensive literature review on key issues and challenges in education financing in Kenya. The team produced a report examining post-devolution financial management practices on the ground, highlighting lessons from the education and health sectors, and recommending areas for further investigation.

Capstone Year

Strategies for Enhanced Member Engagement

Client
The Coalition for Behavioral Health
Faculty
Rona Affoumado
Team
Asher Jay Arce, Tara Cass, Meaghan Lane, Kirti Shah

The Coalition for Behavioral Health is a nonprofit corporation governed by a board of directors that is composed of member agency executives and leaders of New York’s behavioral health community. It is the umbrella advocacy association of New York’s behavioral health community, representing over 100 nonprofit community-based behavioral health agencies that serve more than 400,000 consumers in all five boroughs of New York City and the surrounding counties. In an effort to retain and expand its membership base, The Coalition for Behavioral Health enlisted a Capstone team to recommend strategies on increasing member engagement and attracting new members. The team conducted a literature review, interviewed staff members, and analyzed member survey data. Based on its findings, the team developed and presented a set of recommendations to support The Coalition for Behavioral Health’s efforts to sustain and grow its member engagement and membership.

Capstone Year

Evaluating Project Effectiveness of the Healthy Villages Initiative

Client
Uganda Village Project
Faculty
Kathleen Apltauer
Team
Ambrosia Kaui, Sesen Paulos, Jingyun Shen, Kennedy Starnes

The Uganda Village Project (UVP) works with communities to promote public health and sustainable development in rural communities of the Iganga district in southeast Uganda, through their Healthy Villages Initiative, which aims to improve healthcare. UVP works directly with community-based organizations and local governments to draw on local knowledge and maximize community ownership of public health and development solutions. UVP engaged the Capstone team to review their existing survey data collection tool against current organizational objectives, secure Institutional Review Board approval for the updated survey tool used in 2020 data collection, and analyze data collected in 2009, 2015, and 2020 surveys. The team traveled to Uganda to observe training on survey tool use and conduct field interviews with UVP staff, survey enumerators, and community respondents regarding the efficiency and utility of the updated survey tool. The team used evaluation software to analyze the impact of UVP programming against data collected in control villages and synthesized its findings in an academic report.

Areas Of Impact
Capstone Year

Mount Vernon Economic Development Strategy

Client
City of Mount Vernon, NY
Faculty
Michael Keane
Team
Kathryn Del Beccaro, Tamara Fou, Tai’Asia Hutchinson, Amber Nowak, Benjamin Warshavsky

The City of Mount Vernon, NY, works to facilitate services, activities, and projects related to enhancing the physical, social, and economic life of the city. The City of Mount Vernon engaged the Capstone team to create an economic development strategy that would identify opportunities to transform the city’s economy, improve conditions for residents, and establish its regional identity. To achieve these goals, the team conducted a corridor analysis of two identified commercial/industrial areas to take inventory of existing economic, industry, and land use conditions. The project outlined strategies and recommendations that aim to encourage economic development in Mount Vernon by attracting growth industries, fostering an identity for the city within the NYC region that reflects its culture and history and supports innovation, and determines necessary infrastructure and transit improvements for long-term economic growth.

Capstone Year

Sustainable Plastic Waste Management in Ghana

Client
United Nations Capital Development Fund
Faculty
Paul Smoke
Team
Zipporah Arthur, Una Solveig Joakimsdottir, Mark Anthony Libatique, Patrick Maury

The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) supports sustainable development through financial and technical assistance to local governments in the world’s poorest countries. UNCDF is launching a new International Municipal Investment Fund (IMIF) that aims to support local governments in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. One of the areas UNCDF seeks to invest in is a solution for sustainable plastic waste management. As part of this new initiative, the UNCDF enlisted the Capstone team to research successful plastic waste management models and identify potential areas for high-impact investments. The team conducted fieldwork in Accra, Ghana, where it interviewed various stakeholders invested in the country’s plastic waste management. An unfinished recycling plant located in the Ada East District of southeastern Ghana emerged as an ideal target of financial support for UNCDF. The team presented their research findings in a final paper at the UNCDF headquarters in New York and the country office in Ghana.

Capstone Year

Designing an Action Book for Religious Facilities

Client
Manhattan Borough President’s Office
Faculty
Michael Keane
Team
Daphna Ezrachi, Luis Hernandez, Miles Martin, Noelle Meyers-Powell

The Manhattan Borough President’s Office works on many initiatives important to maintaining and improving the quality of life in Manhattan. As land values rise and memberships decline, many religious congregations throughout NYC struggle to maintain aging but essential properties. To support the community presence of active religious facilities, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer convened a Religious Facilities Task Force comprising faith leaders and adjacent experts, and enlisted the Capstone team to design and deliver a comprehensive guidebook to help religious leaders explore productive ways to preserve, share, repurpose, and/or redevelop their buildings. The team observed public hearings and joined meetings of the task force. In addition, the team conducted independent research and stakeholder outreach to identify neighborhood and citywide trends, needs, and opportunities. The final action book is a user-friendly tool that offers stakeholders a process to understand their properties, identify goals, align mission and outcomes, and navigate common pathways to maximize or transform their spaces and community impact.

Capstone Year

Evaluation of the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (Asist) Program

Client
Gracie Square Hospital
Faculty
John Donnellan
Team
Amanda Alfano, Patricia Boland, David Kuang, Emily Pak

Gracie Square Hospital (GSH), a psychiatric inpatient facility located in Manhattan, provides advanced, patient-centered behavioral health services. GSH implemented the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) program in 2017 to provide staff training in identifying and communicating with persons at risk for suicide and improve caregivers’ professional competency in suicide first aid. In alignment with the organization’s key mission and core values, GSH sought to understand if the ASIST program was providing staff with the tools and skills needed to provide quality care for their patient populations. GSH engaged the Capstone team to evaluate the method and the program’s impact and efficacy. Through focus groups and surveys, the team identified expectations and gathered feedback from ASIST providers. The team further conducted a thorough review of evidenced-based research and utilized the best available evidence to propose recommendations to GSH about the ASIST program.

Capstone Year

Preparing for Congestion Pricing: Improved Access at Identified Subway Stations

Client
New York City Department of Transportation
Faculty
Sarah Kaufman
Team
Miranda Adams, Justin Flaminiano, Maria Free, Alejandro Martinez, Kelsey McGuinness

The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) is tasked with providing safe, efficient, and environmentally responsible transport options and developing infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles. In 2021, New York City will implement a toll fee for vehicles entering Manhattan below 60th Street in an attempt to decongest the city’s central business district, using evidence from global examples to encourage modal shifts to mass transit. In anticipation of this shift, DOT engaged the Capstone team to identify specific subway stations with the highest likelihood for additional users as a result of congestion pricing. The Capstone team analyzed commuting behavior, travel time to the congestion zone, station accessibility, and income to determine which stations are likely to see an increase in users. Utilizing existing safety data, the team provided DOT with priority areas for infrastructure investments. The team’s research culminated in a report identifying top target stations and recommendations for infrastructure that facilitate shifting modes due to congestion pricing.

Capstone Year

Addressing Nurse Absenteeism and Staff Scheduling

Client
NewYork-Presbyterian Queens
Faculty
John Donnellan
Team
Carmen Huynh, Brian Edward Libed, Michele Mui, Tenesia Richards

NewYork-Presbyterian Queens (NYP/Q) is a Level One Trauma Center serving Queens and the New York metropolitan community. The mission of NYP/Q is to be the premier healthcare institution serving the greater community by providing excellence in clinical care and patient safety, education, clinical research, and service. The hospital has been facing high levels of nurse call-outs and no-shows detrimental to its budget, and due to the lack of standardized tracking and scheduling, it has been difficult for hospital leadership to hold staff accountable. The Capstone team conducted a comprehensive literature review on existing evidence-based best practices for improving nurse absenteeism, staffing, and scheduling; developed a current-state process map by interviewing key stakeholders; verified effective practices in other NewYork-Presbyterian facilities and out-of-network hospitals; and conducted a staff nursing survey to explore the key drivers of absenteeism. Based on its research and analysis, the team presented a comprehensive report with recommendations for an efficient, centralized nursing staffing model to address nurse absenteeism and scheduling issues.

Capstone Year

Aligning Climate Resilience With Squatter Settlements in Belize City

Client
Belize Association of Planners
Faculty
Natasha Iskander
Team
Larquana Bryan, Wayne Carino, Dejah McGibbon, Ann Rounds

The Belize Association of Planners is a nonprofit organization committed to ensuring social justice and promoting sustainability in the natural and built environment. The client enlisted the Capstone team to conduct research on the characteristics and drivers of informal settlements in Belize City. The team was also asked to make recommendations in support of an intervention to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal 11 to “make cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable” and the New Urban Agenda of “leaving no one behind.” The team developed and designed research methodologies, including interviews, surveys, and focus groups within informal settlements and across government agencies. The team’s research findings concluded that informal settlements pose a risk for Belize City because it is located on water catchment areas that provide important ecosystem services for urban development. To achieve the desired changes, the team proposed a sites and services model for the client based on the team’s institutional analysis and risk assessment framework.

Capstone Year

Analysis of State Minimum Wages Correlated to Financial Products Used by Low-income Households

Client
Minimum Wage Policy and Alternative Financial Services in the United States
Faculty
Josh Merfeld
Team
Jiaqi Dong, Brittany Mazzurco Muscato, Nathaniel Nelson, Natalee Rivera

Several states in recent years have instituted minimum wage policies to address a stagnant federal minimum wage. Historically, exclusions from mainstream banking, racially discriminatory lending policies, and financial industry deregulation have contributed to communities of color and low-income workers’ withdrawal from mainstream banking, increasing the use of alternative financial services (AFS) such as check cashers and payday lenders. The Capstone team explored the relationship between state-level minimum wage policy changes and the use of AFS among low-income Americans, specifically unbanked and underbanked households (those without a bank account, and those who use AFS, respectively). Using publicly-available data, the team conducted multiple regression analyses to test whether state-level minimum wage increases raise the earnings of low-wage workers, resulting in a decrease in household utilization of AFS and a reduction in the number of unbanked individuals. The final report details the study’s findings and conclusions, providing a preliminary assessment of relevant policy implications for financial services and minimum wage.

Capstone Year