Agency of the Month

The New York Nonprofit Press April 2014 edition featured Project Renewal as the Agency of the Month!

DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor commented: “Throughout its rich and venerable history, Project Renewal has demonstrated great innovation and ingenuity in the field of homeless services, and employs programs that enable more clients to transition back to self-sufficiency."

Click here to read more

Outcomes, Quality, and Evaluation, OH MY!

The human services non-profit sector is in the midst of a management revolution, a revolution built on measurement.


Words like evaluation, performance management, outcomes measurement, and performance based contracts are now joining the ranks of quality assurance, compliance reviews, and performance audits in the minds of nonprofit leaders.  With all of these concepts flying around, many non-profit leaders don’t know the difference between them; they just want to be running effective programs!    So let’s say you want to get in on all of this ‘outcomes’ stuff – where do you begin?  What does this all even mean?

This post is my attempt to cut through the confusion, and define some of the main differences among the different ways of measuring nonprofits.

Compliance vs. Excellence

One the most important distinctions to make is between measurement for compliance and measurement for excellence.  My work at Project Renewal has four main components, which I will use as examples to differentiate those two approaches.  Those components are (1) regulatory compliance, (2) quality assurance, (3) performance measurement, and (4) evaluation. 

The first two items are about making sure that we are doing the minimum necessary for our nonprofit to be considered doing ‘good’ work.  These are more traditional models of measuring the work of a nonprofit, and ones that most leaders should be familiar with.

  •  Regulatory compliance is about following the rules – if we didn’t meet these criteria, we could be facing some serious penalties.  We measure this through activities like doing compliance audits, monitoring activities, and investigating issues as they arise.
  •  Quality Assurance, in the human services world at least, means making sure that the services that we are providing meet certain quality standards.  We measure this through activities like reviewing service documentation and getting feedback from clients and staff.

The last two items on my list aren’t about doing the least that we can do, but about being as excellent as we can be.  Instead of just trying to clear the low bar, we strive for the gold metal and setting new world records for how amazing programs can be.

  • Performance Measurement and Management is perhaps the most useful measurement solution to nonprofit leaders, and if your organization is not currently doing this, it’s time to fix that.  Performance Measurement work involves identifying important performance measures, regular data collection, and using tools like reports and dashboards to monitor performance.  Performance Management is then using that data to manage your staff and programs.
  • Evaluation is a much more rigorous and well defined set of activities – in fact, there is even a professional association dedicated to this field.  Evaluations are generally conducted by professional evaluators to answer specific questions about the effectiveness of various programs, although there are lots of types of evaluations done in lots of different ways.  Generally, nonprofit capacity to conduct evaluations comes after capacity to do performance measurement.

The difference between performance measurement, evaluation, and research is often hard to understand, but hopefully the chart below outlines it a little clearer.

Hopefully this table makes it all a little easier to understand.

Hopefully this table makes it all a little easier to understand.

Your priorities and resources are will determine which way you want to approach measurement, as will the type of program that you run.  You may use one or more of the above types of measurement in your organization, and you might be doing things that I don’t talk about here.  There are lots of other ways to think about measurement in nonprofit organizations, but I hope this provided a framework for you to think about measurement in your nonprofit workplace.

Patrick Germain

As Director of Strategy and Evaluation at Project Renewal, Patrick lGermain leads a team of internal evaluators, conducts a wide range of evaluative activities, and manages any external evaluator relationships.  Patrick also runs a professional networking group on issues of performance measurement and management in the non-profit and public sectors which currently has over 120 members and has had ongoing bimonthly events since its inception. Patrick has an MA  in Public Administration from NYU Wagner.

Expert View: What did you miss today at #Data4Humans ?

Many thanks to everyone who attended the event this morning organized by Patrick Germain, Project Renewal's Director of Strategy & Evaluation and also President of NYCE.

Below find the event info, the Storify feed from the Twitter conversation, and (soon!) the transcript of the event.



Event Info:

Information and Technology in Human Services: 
Who's at the Table and How We Can Work Together More Effectively

Cosponsored by the New York Consortium of Evaluators (NYCE) 
NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

Ivy Pool – Executive Director, HHS Connect at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Operations
Marlowe Greenberg - Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Foothold Technology
Brad Dudding – Chief Operating Officer, Center for Employment Opportunity
Derek Coursen, Director of Planning & Informatics at Public Health Solutions

Patrick Germain, Director of Strategy & Evaluation, Project Renewal and President of the New York Consortium of Evaluators

Overview: Different groups of stakeholders in the human service sector (nonprofit leaders, policy makers, government funders, philanthropic funders, evaluators, service delivery staff, clients, etc.) understand the role of information, data, and technology in the human services sector in different ways. Lack of coordination among these various players leads to very concrete challenges in the development of information systems. Nonprofits have a lot of potential in using data and technology in new and innovative ways, but they often struggle with the most mundane challenges of data management, basic technology support, and meeting the requirements of government and philanthropic funders.  Government agencies have their own set of complicating factors as well.  How can the human services sector push past these basic challenges to benefit from the great potential that data and modern technology hold? The panelists will discuss these challenges with an eye towards solutions that are relevant for both individual organizations/projects as well as the human services sector as a whole.

Transcript of the event will be posted shortly.

After 12 great years, “the face” of Project Renewal’s Recovery Center retires.

By: Lee Stringer

When she first arrived as a new counselor at the Outpatient Department (OPD) of our East 3rd Street Recovery Center, Madeline Pedraza came equipped with the kind of extra bona fides that Project Renewal has long recognized as primary in successfully reaching and treating people with long-term alcoholism and addiction issues: she’d been there herself.  Once a successful paralegal, Madeline--like so many others during the go-go ‘80s and ‘90s-- got caught up in the partying lifestyle. Drugs soon entered the picture. Addiction eventually followed, and from there things spiraled downhill.             

Madeline Pedraza (center) with Denise Townes (left) and Thomas Ciriolia (right).

Madeline Pedraza (center) with Denise Townes (left) and Thomas Ciriolia (right).

Today she not only credits the treatment program she ultimately went through with saving her life, but with changing it as well.  “I looked around me,” she recalls of the moment in recovery when it hit her, “and I said to myself, ‘This is what I want to do!’”  It was a decision that would set her off, at the age of 55, on an entirely new career path. One that led her to East 3rd Street where, over the next dozen years, she would became one of the OPD’s most effective Intake Counselors--a post she held until her retirement in February. 

Addiction treatment is just one part of an integrated chain of comprehensive services Project Renewal’s various facilities provide in order to restore the health, employability, sustainable income and permanent residence of each client. The first and crucial link in that chain is to fully engage new clients in an assessment of their needs as well as cultivate their participation in a service plan to address those needs.  As Intake Counselor, this pivotal task fell, in part, upon Madeline Pedraza’s shoulders.

It’s a task that can at times prove elusive.

“Remember, these are at-risk people. Some of them are angry and hostile,” explains Recovery Center Director, Thomas Ciriolia. “Some don’t want to be here. They don’t think they need any treatment.”  

But for Madeline, having been there herself, a little empathy goes a long way. “The way I look at it, every person is someone’s child.  A lot of these guys didn’t have what I had growing up, and look what happened to me.  You listen. Try to get them to relax. Let them know you understand. Nine times out of ten, I could get them to do the entire intake.” 

“Madeline just seemed to have a knack with people. She was the face of OPD,” Cirolia declares. “She was totally sincere. No matter what mood someone walked in the door with, she could break down their defenses and make them feel that somebody truly cares about their wellbeing. When she announced her retirement I had mixed emotions.”

So too, her immediate supervisor, Avram Gleitsman, A musician at heart, he composed a song about Madeline and sang it to her during the retirement luncheon staff held in her honor. “Madeline was really appreciated by a lot of people.  She had such a positive attitude, and a lot of respect among the clients. Her absence will be felt.”

As for Madeline herself, leaving Project Renewal tugs at her heartstrings as well. “I loved my job,” she exclaimed.  “I saw it as a challenge.  You just don’t give up. I figured if I could do it, they could do it. I loved planting that seed and watching it grow.” 

Madeline Pedraza's retirement party

Madeline Pedraza's retirement party

"Aha!" Moments

Jewel at right with CATP student Marisol working during class

Jewel at right with CATP student Marisol working during class

Jewel John started in November as an instructor with the Culinary Arts Training Program. Though she has no formal training in social work, her experience learning leadership training with The Landmark Forum helps her identify the key pieces needed to move her students towards success in the classroom. "I make sure they get there right on time, and if a student comes in even a minute late we talk about what that does for the class as a whole, and how that could impact them in their future jobs." Jewel shared with me her best moment on the job:

The thing I love most about this job is the aha! moment. When something just really clicks for the students. Like when they figured out pasta. They just didn't get how pasta was pasta--I said there is such a difference with fresh pasta but they said there is no differences--pasta is just pasta.

I made roll the dough for like 30 minutes and they were so tired and complaining. Then we used the KitchenAid attachment to roll it out and we rolled it longer and longer and the wheels started turning. Then the real moment came when we put it through the pasta cutter and they said look look!! We have noodles!!

It was like magic!


We had a great turnout at our Culinary Arts Training Program graduation last Friday!

So many friends and families came to support the men and women who have worked faithfully and diligently to reclaim hope for their lives. Check out these great photos of the event.

catp feb grad collage.jpg

Day trips, guest speakers, even crossword puzzles

At Project Renewal, honoring Black History Month Takes on Many Forms.

An Underground Railroad themed Papier-mâché community “quilt” assembled from individual panels created by staff and residents of Geffner House to celebrate Black History Month.

An Underground Railroad themed Papier-mâché community “quilt” assembled from individual panels created by staff and residents of Geffner House to celebrate Black History Month.

Most of the people that Project Renewal serves are engaged in putting the pieces back together and moving on to renewed lives.  It can entail daily--sometimes even hour by hour-- focus and struggle. Yet even so, staff and residents alike throughout our 16 sites and numerous programs are finding time and ways, this month, to honor, recognize, observe and celebrate black history.

In some cases, like at Renewal House, our transitional housing program for men recovering from substance abuse, observance is a grassroots thing, initiated by the residents themselves. “We noticed that a lot of our people were very interested in it this year,” reports Renewal House Assistant Director Monica Diaz. In response, she hung posters and biographies of notable African Americans from Marcus Garvey to Malcolm X on the walls, and added  black history as a running theme in the four group discussions staff and residents engage in each month. 

Residents at our Third Street Men’s Shelter enjoyed the holiday celebrations so much that Assistant Shelter Director Aluta Khanyile’s continued a seasonal theme by highlighting Black History Month. “The response to all the activities and events we had over the holidays was so positive,” he explains, “that we thought, why not have another celebration, centered on Black History Month, this time?”  Posting them in the common areas of the 200-bed facility, Aluta intends that even in passing the images of--and quotations from--notable Black Americans will raise staff and residents’ awareness, as well as open the door to further cultural exchange. “Next,” he declares, “we need to recognize and celebrate the Hispanic people’s heritage.”

The most elaborate observance of Black History at Project Renewal this year has is in our 200-bed Fort Washington Men’s Shelter for men diagnosed with mental illness and/or substance abuse issues.  Here, Recreation Therapist Joseph White has cooked up a month-long string of related activities and events, including special crossword puzzles, trivia matches, field trips and guest speakers, all centered on Black History Month and culminating in a grand, evening-long talent show featuring staff and resident actors, singers, and musicians, in performance.  It is a tradition White has cultivated over the years.

The Afrikana Madonna, also known as Barbara Bethea

The Afrikana Madonna, also known as Barbara Bethea

Likewise, when the Geffner House Recreation Director Ellis Eisner was first hired eight years ago, she decided to invite a guest speaker to the 20-story, 307-unit building for formerly homeless men and women.  “I grew up during the movement,” confides Ellis who upholds this tradition February. “I was eight years old when they assassinated Martin Luther King.  So this is an important holiday to me.” This month’s activities include a group day trip to Harlem’s Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture,  a visit from poetess/therapist Barbara Bethea, better known to her fans as the “Afrikana Madonna,” and, new this year, construction of a black-themed Papier-mâché community “quilt” assembled from individual panels created by staff and residents. 

The day the pipes broke

In the depths of this winter’s brutal cold snap, a looming crisis: a homeless shelter in the Bronx is suddenly rendered uninhabitable due to broken water pipes. An emergency call from the NYC Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to Project Renewal’s new, state-of-the-art Bronx Boulevard Shelter provided the solution.

“It was in the evening. I was on my way home after my shift when my cell phone rang,” recalls Ana Charle, Director of Bronx Boulevard.  The shelter wasn’t yet fully open so Ana quickly scrambled to make sure that there were enough staff, goods and services in place to make her unanticipated visitors as comfortable as possible.

bronx blvd opening redo copy 4.jpg

“DHS told me 20 clients were coming, so I put in a call to Comfort Foods (Project Renewal’s catering company) to rush over 20 meals” says Ana. “Then they called me back and told me the number was closer to 90. I had to get right back on the line and order another 70 meals.”

Our staff pulled together that night, stepping outside their regular roles to help wherever needed - ensuring that the facility was clean and that sheets, blankets and toiletries were on hand.  Although employees were called in to work unexpectedly, many volunteered to stay for 14 and 21 hour shifts to make certain that our guests’ needs were met!

Click here to check out photos of our new Bronx Blvd shelter!

Click here to check out photos of our new Bronx Blvd shelter!

Project Renewal Champions of HOPE.

Left to right:  Aluta Khanyile (Assistant Director, Project Renewal's Third Street Men's Shelter), Christy Parque (Executive Director, Homeless Services United) and Elizabeth Fasanya (Case Manager Project Renewal, In Homes Now)

Left to right:  Aluta Khanyile (Assistant Director, Project Renewal's Third Street Men's Shelter), Christy Parque (Executive Director, Homeless Services United) and Elizabeth Fasanya (Case Manager Project Renewal, In Homes Now)

Our hats are off to Emily Brown, Elizabeth Fasanya, Shanira Griffith, Aluta Khanyile, Jackie Moore, Jana Pohorelsky, Mizraim Reyes, Rosalind Williams, and Brittany Zenner.  These nine Project Renewal staffers volunteered to be DHS HOPE surveyors.  So, on Monday, January 27th, they were out in the frigid night, traveling some of this city’s meaner avenues, looking for anyone living on the streets. 

As Emily Brown, who recruited our volunteers explains, DHS (NYC Department of Homeless Services) purposely chooses January to do the annual HOPE (Homeless Outreach Population Estimate) count,  so that they can identify chronically homeless individuals, who tend  to tough it out during the colder nights rather than use the shelter system.

HOPE count data factors into how the city allocates resources.   An undercount could result in an shortfall of services and/or facilities and supplies on hand.  So we are proud of our PRI staffers who braved the chill themselves so that when vulnerable New Yorkers seek help in the future, they will not get left out in the cold.

One of them, Mizraim Reyes, of our Medical Department, went a step further when she encountered a man who hadn’t eaten in a while. “I offered to call the DHS Van for him,” she recalls, “but he didn’t want to go to a shelter and leave behind his two shopping carts full of his possessions, which the shelter can’t accommodate. So I asked him, ‘Well what do you want us to do for you?’ and he said ‘I’m hungry,’ so we went to a deli and got him something to eat.”

A huge thanks to you all, our Project Renewal Champions of HOPE!

The effects of expired unemployment benefits trickle down to the most vulnerable

 Next Step clients work on prepping resumes in a workshop.

 Next Step clients work on prepping resumes in a workshop.

Lawmakers did not include an extension of long-term unemployment benefits in the recent budget passed before breaking for the holidays, causing 1.3 million Americans, including more than 127,000 New Yorkers to be cut off. But the effects of this inaction trickle down to those who are most vulnerable.

Last week Labor Secretary Tom Perez told reporters that many of the unemployed who lost their benefits have gone from a "position of hardship" to one that is a "catastrophe."

"They have been looking day in and day out for work," Perez said. "They are trying to feed their families. They are trying to stave off foreclosure. They are making judgments between food and medicine -judgments that no person in America or anywhere should have to make."

The 700 clients served annually by Project Renewal's Next Step Employment Program arrive in need of a full spectrum of employment assistance -- including education and skills training, job placement, and retention support in the comprehensive "one stop shop" setting we provide.

Many Next Step clients have lived for years in a state of crisis similar to the current situation described by Secretary Perez. They face additional hardships to attaining jobs and a steady income stream as many struggle with poor health caused by mental illness or addictions, and according to Project Renewal Deputy Director Stephanie Cowles the recent cut in unemployment benefits will only worsen their situation.

The recent loss of unemployment benefits will clearly affect our work at Next Step.  Although very few Next Step clients receive unemployment benefits,  we anticipate a large number of people whose unemployment benefits were discontinued will flood the job market  causing strong competition for low level jobs and negatively impacting Next Step clients chances for obtaining these jobs. 


Honoring Addiction Treatment Professionals

Geffner House celebrated National Recovery Month with the Addiction Professional's Day Community Celebration. 

We had over 60 attendees both professionals, consumers and community members. Presenters included Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, MSOWS, Addictions Institute, HAI, Lantern Organization, Emerald Water and Huron Health Care.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for National Addiction Professionals Day on September 20 to recognize their important work in the field of recovery and treatment. Coinciding with National Recovery Month. NAADAC held its first Addiction Professionals’ Day on June 11, 1992 (originally called National Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors Day). It was established to commemorate the hard work that addiction services professionals do on a daily basis


Geffner House Recovery Month 2013 collage.jpg

How New York State is saving money and homeless people

Want to learn more about how Medicaid is going to help homeless New Yorkers AND save tax payer's money? 

For the idea in brief, read below, or check out this report from the Center for Health Care Strategies and the Corporation for Supportive Housing. 

Policy Brief PDF Download

Policy Brief online

psych nurse.jpg

The Affordable Care Act redesigned the systems that deliver healthcare to the highest users of Medicaid—often homeless adults with chronic illnesses and serious mental illness that cause frequent emergency room visits.

But many of those men and women are unclear of how to access care now. For example,  41% of our shelter residents are eligible for Health Homes.

A Health Home is a network of caregivers that work in collaboration with one another to help men and women with chronic health conditions and serious mental illnesses.

This coordinated approach to healthcare is designed to improve health outcomes for the highest need patients and reduce costs for taxpayers.

We now have two staff members who work as Health Home Coordinators. By accessing a single network of caregivers, our Health Home Coordinators can refer homeless adults to every service they need – from an eye exam to mental health treatment.

Through participating in the Health Homes program, we’re making healthcare even more accessible for the homeless men and women who need it most.

4 Wins that would have been impossible without them

The nursing staff at Project Renewal has a lot to be proud of this year.

In the past 12 months Project Renewal has been:

Below are photos from the annual Nurse Appreciation Day celebrated this month. Please join us in honoring all their hard work!

Nurse Appreciation Day 2013
Nurse Appreciation Day 2013
Nurse Appreciation Day 2013
Nurse Appreciation Day 2013
Nurse Appreciation Day 2013

What NYU did

Over the past 30 years, the NYU Community Fund has awarded over 1,600 grants to local nonprofit organizations totaling more than $2.5M.

At an award ceremony earlier this month, New York University’s Office of Civic Engagement awarded more than $160,000 grants to 83 community-based non-profit organizations with money raised from hundreds of NYU employees, "each of whom believes in the important work being done by these organizations every day." said Bill Pfeiffer, director of the Office of Civic Engagement.


Medical Administrator Pat Troy holds the plaque awarded by NYU Community Fund.

Of those 83 organizations, including the United Way of New York City, Project Renewal received the Thom Fluellen Award to support our groundbreaking Mobile Medical Program:

Since 2001, one outstanding organization each year has received a distinctive $5,000 grant in memory of the former Community Fund staff director, Thom Fluellen, whose spirit and enthusiasm for this community was an inspiration to countless others. This year, the award went to Project Renewal.

Founded in 1967, Project Renewal empowers homeless men and women struggling with addiction and/or mental illness to rebuild their lives with renewed health, homes, and jobs.  Project Renewal's comprehensive and innovative approach combines healthcare, addiction and mental health treatment, employment services, and housing to ensure clients remain in permanent homes and become productive members of their communities.

“The $5,000 Thom Fluellen Award will help support our groundbreaking mobile medical programs -  MedVan, StreetSmart, LifeLine and CareVan - which connect chronically homeless New Yorkers with ongoing health care,” said Mitchell Netburn, president & CEO of Project Renewal.  "The award is a wonderful endorsement of our mission to improve the health of homeless men and women with complex needs who face multiple barriers to accessing high quality health care."

“As of this year, the NYU Community Fund celebrates its 30th year of operation, proud to have awarded more than 1,600 grants totaling more than $2.5M to community groups since the program’s inception,” said Pfeiffer.  “We look forward to many more years to come.”

Read more about the award via the NYU press release

Fletcher Residence Delivers Eco-friendly Innovation


How do we do it?

  • ƒƒConvective heating and cooling with custom window valences
  • ƒƒ“Extra” insulated apartments block out noise, odors, and outside temperatures
  • ƒƒBuilding exterior is continuously insulated for maximum performance
  • ƒƒPlanters on “pop outs” hold trailing vines that will shade windows from western summer sun.


From the Archives! Sprint 2012 -- Having a key means everything

Meet the tenants of Fletcher Residence

The west wing, Fletcher Residence, is home to 55 mentally-ill men and women in their own studio apartments. Patricia was one of the first tenants to move in: “I love living here. I prayed for a place to live by Christmas and lo and behold on December 20th I moved in!”

“They are thrilled,” said Program Manager Peter Bazeley of the new tenants. “We have 13 admitted since December 20th and interviews are going on right now. We have stacks of applications, about ten applications for every opening. Most tenants will come directly from shelters, including our own shelters, New Providence and Fort Washington.”

The men and women at Fletcher Residence receive long-term training to achieve lasting stability, work on sobriety issues if necessary, work on community integration skills, and daily living skills. Explains Peter, “Independent housing is the final goal so now is the time to start developing the skills necessary to live independently in the community. Tenants are encouraged to make friendships outside of the program and engage in ordinary community activities such as going to the library, the movies or shopping. We have no curfew; residents can pretty much come and go as they please. We have medication supervision and money management when needed. We have a nurse, a psychiatrist once a week and case managers who work directly with the residents.”

As tenants settle in they are introduced to each other and have community meetings to talk about the skills they will be working on, including a cooking workshop to be held in the tenants’ apartments.

Patricia is enjoying her apartment’s many amenities. “I have a state of the art kitchen, refrigerator, flat screen TV, and a very comfortable bed with a comforter and sheets. They provide you with everything! I have a microwave, a working stove, a walk-in closet and I have a beautiful bathroom.” But more than anything, she is grateful for something that anyone else might take for granted…“It’s such a blessing to own a key to my own home. Having a key means everything after you’ve been homeless.”

Meet Harry!

You might have seen Harry as a homeless man on the train years ago. Since childhood he has lived on the streets and spent almost 30 years in prison during his life. But now Harry is back! It is our honor to introduce you to Harry Dickerson, who gives us hope for New Yorkers still struggling to reclaim their lives.

Watch his story and be inspired!

Medical Department Receives National Award from SAMHSA for Excellence in Addiction Treatment

The Primary Care Department received a 2013 Science and Service Award for Office-Based Opiod Treatment in recognition of its innovative use of buprenorphine as an accessible option for homeless patients.  This model of care support SAMHSA’s priorities for addiction treatment including: recovery support services, integrated behavioral and primary health care services, hepatitis prevention and treatment services, practices that encourage patient choice in treatment planning, administrative practices that promote retention, access to care, and service/cost effectiveness and efficiency, and the use of electronic health records.

What does this mean?  With the primary care clinic at 3rd Street co-located with 2 detox programs and The Recovery Center, patients withdrawing from heroin and other opioids can find a “one-stop shop” of integrated health care and recovery support.  This means they are more likely to stay in care.  In 2012 the average treatment was 361 days which is impressive.  Medical Director Roslynnn Glicksman states: “As long as clients are in treatment, they are presumed to be free of illicit drug use and all that entails – overdose risk, illegal activity and risk of arrest, risk associated with intravenous drug use, and so on. So longer treatment is better.  In that time, patients are also improving their housing situation and working on health and recovery issues.  There is no limit to how long someone can be on buprenorphine maintenance. Addiction itself is a chronic condition with relapses likely and so treatment can and should continue.”

Congratulations to the Medical Department and all staff working with clients in this practice – another example of innovation in helping homeless men and women rebuild their lives!

primary care collage