Project SEARCH Overview
Project SEARCH is a nine-month internship program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It is targeted for individuals whose goal is competitive employment. The program takes place in a healthcare, government, or business setting where total immersion in the workplace facilitates the teaching and learning process as well as the acquisition of employability and marketable work skills. Interns participate in three internships to explore a variety of career paths. The interns work with a team that includes their family, an instructor, and local and state agencies to create an employment goal.
BENEFITS of the Project SEARCH Model:
Benefits to the Students:
- Participate in a variety of internships within the host hospital/business
- Acquire competitive, transferable and marketable job skills
- Gain increased independence, confidence, and self-esteem
- Obtain work-based individualized coaching, instruction, and feedback
- Develop linkages to Vocational Rehabilitation and other adult service agencies
Benefits to the Business:
- Access to a new, diverse, talent stream with skills that match labor needs
- Interns and employees with disabilities who serve as role models for customers
- Access to a demographic of the economy with intense buying power: people with disabilities represent one of the fastest-growing market segments in the United States
- Increased regional and national recognition through marketing of this unique program
- Increased performance and retention in high-turnover, entry-level positions
In 2018, Sheldon Wadsten completed Project SEARCH and was hired by Bronson Methodist Hospital. Since then, Sheldon's coworkers at Bronson have been so impressed with him, they had a special plaque created to honor Sheldon and his great work!
Brian Cooper of Bronson's Surgical department had this to say about Sheldon, "Sheldon is such an independent and hard worker. He does a wonderful job making sure our Locker Room is clean and tidy. So with the permission of our Surgical Director, another employee and I got Sheldon a plaque that he could take home and hang-up as a reminder of how awesome he is. We want Sheldon to feel like he is a member of our team. I am thankful for the KRESA program and that it gave Sheldon such a great opportunity to be a part of Team Bronson and experience Bronson Positivity."
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It seems it’s impossible to get a job without relevant experience, and impossible to get that experience unless you’ve already had a job. This vicious cycle shuts many potentially outstanding employees out of jobs – especially those with disabilities.
Project SEARCH Partners
In Kalamazoo, Project SEARCH is a collaboration among the following organizations:
- Kalamazoo RESA
- Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS)
- Integrated Services of Kalamazoo (ISK)
- Bronson Methodist Hospital