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Strategic Creation of New Business Segment Created New Revenue Stream for PennCares

UCP of South Central PA, offered traditional UCP children’s programming, and in-home care services for adults. In 2016, the CEO of UCP of South Central PA came to XtraGlobex searching for a strategic way to increase operating cash reserves that were often being depleted to support ongoing agency operations.

XtraGlobex began searching for a solution by conducting a thorough top to bottom strategic analysis of the company to define points of success and areas of weakness. We engaged the board, employees, and consumers throughout the process, asking for opinions on the company as a whole and the services being offered. Based on the initial detailed examination, XtraGlobex identified two main points of focus for the strategic plan going forward.

The first of these was to do a complete rebrand of UCP of South Central PA into what is now called PennCares. This would enable consumers to see that services weren’t being exclusively offered to clients with cerebral palsy, but to those with any type of disability. The second recommendation was to launch an entirely new business segment, called PennWorks. The latter is what will be covered throughout this case study.

When going through an analysis of UCP of South Central PA and the current market landscape, XtraGlobex identified a need that was not being adequately met. At the time, individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities were securing employment, but if that job didn’t work out for some reason, they essentially had nothing to show for it when searching for a new job. There was no certification or training that met nationally recognized standards for people with disabilities and transitioning from training to work was often done with no support. In addition, employers had little knowledge of the resources available to them to support employee recruitment and retention of individuals with disabilities.

Based on this need, XtraGlobex recommended the formation of PennWorks, a branch of PennCares. Not only would this new business segment meet a critical societal need and provide resources to enhance employment readiness for those with disabilities, but it also created a new revenue stream for PennCares that bolstered their operating cash reserves.

PennWorks is designed to train and certify individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities so they can find meaningful employment beyond what is offered by traditional employment services. Instead of receiving specific job training for a certain employer and being back at square one if that job is lost, PennWorks utilizes a four-step process; life prep training, job exploration, certification, and job placement. PennWorks also serves people of all ages, starting at age 14, and people with any disability, unlike traditional employment services that cater only to young adults with intellectual and development disabilities.

Through the PennWorks program, individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities can obtain training and eventually a certification in one of five areas; customer service, food service, custodial, Microsoft office, and home health aide. The curriculum is readily available online for high schools and adult programs to utilize, and students can actually receive high school credits towards graduation by participating in the program.

What make PennWorks even more unique, is that in designing PennWorks, XtraGlobex enlisted the help of all stakeholders involved in the process. Through a collaboration of area high schools, the Center for Independent Living, and the local Chamber of Commerce, we were able to create an integrated program that meets the needs of the students, employers, and the community. Only by utilizing the expertise and listening to the needs of every stakeholder in the equation could we develop a program that truly works for and benefits all involved.

Since launching PennWorks in the spring of 2019, the program has seen strong results. During the initial pilot stage, 40 students went through the curriculum. There was positive feedback from students, parents, and employers. The schools participating in the pilot phases were also interested in continuing to use the curriculum. Currently, there are two high schools in Pennsylvania utilizing the PennWorks curriculum. By making the content available online, PennCares is able to economically deliver the materials and quickly scale as other schools buy in. The costs are also reasonable, billed on a per school per year basis to access materials, with an additional cost per learner certificate. As a result, eight more high schools will be launching the program in January 2020.

To date, over 60 students have gone through the PennWorks program. As the program continues to expand to other schools and adult programs, more individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities can learn the skills necessary to find meaningful employment and make self-directed choices about their career.