NYC Behavioral Design Center

Posted in Projects

Supporting non-profit organizations

Non-profit organizations support New Yorkers in countless ways—providing essential health and human services, education and youth development opportunities, and resources to combat poverty and strengthen communities, among others. Too often, though, valuable services are under-utilized, or clients and community members fail to complete the steps needed to achieve desired results. This can be puzzling to staff, who work hard to help as many people as possible.

We know there is often a gap between people’s intentions and actions—perhaps they intend to use a non-profit’s program or service but don’t follow through, don’t realize they are eligible for certain benefits, or have misconceptions about what’s possible or expected in a particular context. Applying a behavioral lens can help agencies address these issues, and in doing so make good programs even more effective—enabling them to help more people.

That’s why we created the NYC Behavioral Design Center with support from The New York Community Trust and the Booth Ferris Foundation. Through educational workshops, technical assistance, and cooperative design projects, the Center will help non-profits based in New York City identify and ameliorate behavioral barriers that emerge in service delivery, with a particular focus on alleviating poverty and enhancing civic engagement. Center staff will guide practitioners and program managers in applying insights and techniques from behavioral science to increase the utilization of their services and improve outcomes for the people they serve.

We’re currently working toward the following goals with five NYC non-profits:

  • Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC)—Improve continued engagement among the organization’s education and training program clients as they strive to secure employment and/or higher education.
  • NYC Kids RISE–Improve the user experience for families participating in the NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program.
  • CUNY Early Childhood Professional Development Institute—Strengthen the early childhood workforce and program quality by increasing number of uncertified early childhood teachers who receive training and support to obtain Pre-K certification
  • Room to Grow –Develop effective referral strategies for new Bronx location of a program that provides low-income families with infants with coaching, service referrals, and essential baby goods from just before the birth of their babies through age three.
  • Queens Community House—Develop behaviorally informed strategies to encourage over-age, under-credited students to obtain services and supports aimed at increasing school attendance and facilitating transition to post-secondary education and employment.

If you work for a non-profit organization in NYC, join the Behavioral Design Center for a workshop on May 20, 2019: Behavioral Science for Practitioners: Communications Workshop

We’re accepting more requests for assistance from non-profits interested in applying behavioral insights to existing or new programs. If you work for a non-profit in NYC and have a problem you’d like to solve, you can find more information here.

The Behavioral Design Center also offers weekly office hours to New York City non-profits interested in getting 1:1 applied behavioral science advice. Sign up for an office hour here

We’re eager to work with non-profit organizations to apply a behavioral lens to program and service design. Through the Behavioral Design Center, we hope to spread these behavioral insights farther and help more New Yorkers benefit from beneficial programs.

Interested in learning more about the NYC Behavioral Design Center? Sign up for our listserv to stay informed about upcoming workshops and other initiatives, or reach out to us at