New emphasis eyed at SDC

SDC CEO Deborah Blanks outlines the model for an Economic Development Department program approach to Commissioners.

The Social Development Commission Board got a look at a possible new program emphasis being developed at the agency. SDC CEO Deborah Blanks and members of SDC staff offered commissioners an update on a potential new major direction for the agency during the September Board meeting.

The presentation given to Board members focused on work being done on a new initiative being drawn up by SDC staff and the Board’s Program, Planning and Policy Committee. The Economic Development Department is a response to Community Needs Assessments conducted by SDC and other research like the Sullivan Study which have identified Education and Jobs as the top barriers to anti-poverty efforts in the Milwaukee area. Studies by SDC and others have confirmed that jobs are locally available but also that a gap in skills on the part of those seeking the jobs often prevents them from being able to take advantage of those employment opportunities.

The new approach being designed would use a customer service focus that will utilize in an integrated manner the many programs at SDC plus any others as needed from outside agencies and organizations. The program would use a central intake system to assess all participant needs and a case manager would then draw up a customized plan to address the challenges the resident is facing.

An innovative part of the program being eyed is a Career Training Center that would prepare participants for unsubsidized jobs using experiential learning techniques.

This effort includes on-going case management for nine months after completion of the program to insure that the participants successfully maintain their employment with partnering businesses. The presentation to the Board included a timeline that would see the first participants beginning in early 2013 and projected outcomes.

The report on the project generated lively discussion from Board members with both support and questions on the project being aired. Board Chair Bobbie Webber expressed appreciation at the work done by staff and the Program, Planning and Policy Committee. He asked that they continue researching and developing the department model, incorporating the questions and ideas expressed by Board members during their discussion of the potential new department.

For more information on the Social Development Commission, visit the agency website at