Research Centers

CNSM Case Studies

CNSM has developed three multi-media case studies on landmark attempts by nonprofit organizations to drive policy changes on key issues in New York City.  The three issues are:

Case 1: Solid Waste Management and Environmental Justice.  This case examines the continuing work of community-based organizations and public interest lawyers to promote equitable and environmentally sound solutions to waste handling in New York City.

Case 2: Child Welfare and Foster Care.  This case study focuses on the campaign to eliminate racial and religious bias from the New York City foster care system, to protect children in foster care from abuse and neglect, and to improve child welfare services. 

Case 3: Education Finance Equity.  This case study examines the advocacy work in support of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity v State of New York (1993) that brought together a coalition of education advocacy groups, parent organizations, and community school boards to push for more equitable funding of New York City schools.

The three cases document the background of the advocacy campaigns, identify the outcomes and impacts, analyze the role of the advocacy organizations and coalitions, and determine the key factors in the success or failure of the different elements of the campaigns. They highlight key elements of advocacy campaigns, including: the importance of grassroots campaigns and building a public constituency; the dynamics of complex coalitions; the pro and cons of litigation as an advocacy strategy; the role of policy research; and the importance of and preparing for a long-term commitment. 

Each written case narrative has an accompanying video of interviews with the advocates highlighted in the case, and an appendix with links to supplementary online documentation and examples of print and visual media coverage of the issues.

An additional background paper, Understanding Nonprofit Advocacy, explores definitions of advocacy and the challenges in evaluating the outcomes of advocacy campaigns. 

The case studies can be used as the basis for teaching and learning about the recent evolution of the three issues in New York City and the role that nonprofit organizations have played in policy development, as well as about the processes of conducting advocacy campaigns. The Teaching Notes provide instructors with additional information on how to use the cases, with study questions for classroom discussions or assessment assignments for all three cases, and an analysis of the lessons learned in the three cases.

Note:  The case narratives in the series are available in both a Full Version that includes an appendix with an analysis of the lesson learned, and a Student Version for use in the classroom that omits that appendix.

The Full Version is for general distribution to anyone interested in reading about the involvement of nonprofit organizations in advocacy. The Student Version is for classroom work. In addition, the background paper that accompanies the case studies, Understanding Nonprofit Advocacy, can be assigned to provide students with the theoretical context for analyzing the cases.

Students who are assigned the case study should work under an honor system and not consult the Full Version until after the classroom discussion.

To access the materials, click on the following links:

Case 1: Solid Waste Management and Environmental Justice

               Full Version

               Student Version

Case 2: Child Welfare and Foster Care 

               Full Version

               Student Version

Case 3: Education Finance Equity 

               Full Version

               Student Version

Videos interviews with nonprofit advocates

Background paper: Understanding Nonprofit Advocacy

For a copy of the Teaching Notes or other information about the New York City Nonprofit Advocacy Case Studies, contact the Project Coordinator, John Casey:

Funding for the development of the case studies was provided by the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation.

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