Project SEARCH was developed at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 1996 through the collaborative efforts of Erin Riehle, then Director of Cincinnati Children’s Emergency Department and Susie Rutkowski, then Special Education Director at Great Oaks Career Campuses. The goal of the project – a commitment to hiring individuals with disabilities to work within the hospital setting filling high-turnover, entry level positions in the Emergency Department.
Since its inception, Project SEARCH has grown from a single site at Cincinnati Children’s to over 300 sites across the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, and Australia. Project SEARCH’s primary objective is to secure competitive employment for people with disabilities.
The Penn State Hershey Project SEARCH High School Transition Program features a unique, business-led, school-to-work program that takes place entirely at the workplace, Hershey Medical Center. Total workplace immersion facilitates a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and relevant job-skills training through strategically designed internships. The goal for each student participant is competitive employment.
Project SEARCH serves students with intellectual and development disabilities that have an IEP, are in their last year of high school, and have been found to be OVR eligible. Additional eligibility requirements can be found by clicking the Eligibility Requirements link. The most important criterion for acceptance into Project SEARCH is a desire to achieve competitive employment.
Participation is limited to 12 students per year. In order to be considered for the program, students must be referred by their home district, meet all eligibility requirements, submit an application and participate in an interview and skills assessment. Final selection of participants will be made by the Student Selection Team, a team comprised of representatives from each of the partners, The Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, CAIU and OVR.