Nonprofit Mangement Graduate Capstone Projects

Advanced Seminar in Nonprofit Management (NPM)

The Advanced Seminar brings together concepts studied throughout the nonprofit management program. The capstone experience culminates in a Professional Decision Report (PDR), a Paper of Publishable Quality (PPQ) or a Masters Research Thesis (Thesis). A crucial distinction between these three outputs is the presence of a client. The PDR is negotiated with your chosen client, and therefore hinges on client involvement and commitment. It tackles practical problems faced by your client, that are also interesting to you, and which you feel are worth exploring in greater depth. The PPQ is a research paper that involves no client-related work but extensive reading of research literature, and a credible journal style and format submission. It is intended for students greatly interested in theoretical depth, seeking scholarly experience. The thesis unlike the PPQ does not mandate a journal submission and is closer to a research-oriented capstone paper. 

Capstone Projects 2018-2019

Best Paper Award 2018-2019

Voluntary Community Groups + Community Development: Improving Group Structure Development Practices to Promote Active Participation in Trauma Impacted Communities| By Ariana Cecilia Arancibia

Voluntary community groups are incredibly dynamic, they can improve a neighborhood’s sense of community, make physical improvements to public spaces, and ensure that the resident’s voices are heard about the issues they are most passionate about. The importance of a clearly defined group structure as a form of self-governance for voluntary community groups is crucial to increase self-determination of the group and the individuals that make the group. The purpose of this research was to show the ways in which community development programs that work within trauma impacted communities, like Catalyst, can improve their group structure development practices to better support the breadth and depth of the community’s needs to be able to actively participate in voluntary community groups. Establishing practices that rebuild the social networks and uplifts the community’s capacity to collectively address problems within the community, as well as plan for the future, can re-establish (or reinforce developing) social cohesion. This can increase the ability for members of the community to actively participate in voluntary groups that wish to further promote positive change in the community – creating a sense of empowerment at the individual level that then can build into empowerment at the community level, and further reinforce self-determination of the community, the group, and the individual.

Read about all the Fall 2018-Spring 2019 NPM Capstone Projects


Capstone Projects 2017-2018

Best Paper Award 2017-2018

SOARing Together: Staff Engagement in University Settlement’s Strategic Planning Process | By Katherine Chang 

This Professional Decision Report set out to identify a framework with which University Settlement could engage its staff in preparing for the agency’s strategic planning process. University Settlement is the nation’s first settlement house, with headquarters located in the Lower East Side in New York City. The Settlement sought to engage staff in its strategic planning process in order to gain insight into the needs of the communities the agency serves and to connect staff to a shared identity of the organization, engaging them in a process to create a collective vision for the organization’s future. Rather than a traditional SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis model, SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results) was chosen for this strategic planning process, in great part because of its foundation in appreciative inquiry. For this PDR, several SOAR sessions were conducted with non-management staff at University Settlement. Through these sessions, two themes emerged: a craving for deeper engagement – for programs with their communities, but also for staff with one another – and the importance of collaboration and integration of programs within the Settlement. By using an appreciative inquiry approach and guiding the staff through the SOAR process, University Settlement ensured that the vision of its staff was incorporated into its strategic planning process.

Read about all the Spring 2018 NPM Capstone Projects

Capstone Projects 2016-2017

Best Paper Award 2016-2017

Electronic Dance Music Education Program at The New School, Professional Decision Report | By Jonathan Herbert