Project SEARCH is a combined education and work experience program for students with disabilities who are in their last year of high school.
Project SEARCH DC is a collaborative project that started in August 2009 at the US Department of Labor (DOL), with support from its Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), as a partnership between the District of Columbia Department on Disability Services (DDS) and its Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) and Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA), the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), and Project SEARCH USA. It has since expanded to include the US Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of the Interior. Community rehabilitation providers provide on-site job coaching support and job development services for these sites.
Project SEARCH is a combined education and work experience program for students with disabilities who are in their last year of high school. The program prepares participating students, who receive special education support through DCPS for competitive employment in the community. Up to 12 students spend their entire school day at their host site with a DCPS teacher and several employment staff, furnished through RSA by a community supported employment agency. The students work on employability skills at the beginning and end of every day, following an employability skills curriculum, in a program room provided by the host agency. The rest of the day is spent in work experiences for which they applied, were interviewed and were selected. These work experiences are designed to teach competitive, marketable, transferable job skills. Each student participates in two or three work experiences during the program year. Participating students receive daily support from the instructor, the job coaches and mentors within their Federal department.
The partners in this project work collaboratively to create this school-to-career transition program for the students, to foster and facilitate the acquisition of marketable skills by the participants as they complete their skills development program within their Federal agency. Each student participates in a variety of skills development experiences to obtain skills leading to employment in the community and/or within the Federal government. Each partner contributes staff and resources into this project, which blends and braids funding from a variety of sources. Some students are hired by their host agency at the end of the school year, while others pursue employment in other industries in DC.
The Departments of Labor, Education, Interior, and Health and Human Services view this as a model that can be replicated throughout the Federal government system. Our Project SEARCH USA partners have helped to start over 200 Project SEARCH sites all over the country and in several other countries, in private industry (e.g., hospitals, banks, etc.) and in local governments. For more information about Project SEARCH, go to http://www.projectsearch.us/ or contact Rebecca Salon at firstname.lastname@example.org.