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Contact Us

Paige Parr - Project SEARCH Statewide Coordinator

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If you have comments regarding any documents on DVR's website or need an alternate format, you may contact us via email at: dvr@dwd.wisconsin.gov

Or you can reach us by phone at: 800-442-3477 (Toll Free)

Project SEARCH - Accomplishments, Events, & News

Current Events & Accomplishments

October 21, 2021

West Bend Mutual Insurance Company successfully employs former Project SEARCH intern.

October 20, 2021

After a challenging year, seven Project SEARCH interns are gaining valuable experiences throughout Howard Young Medical Center.

Representatives Summerfield and Petryk meeting with a Project SEARCH Intern

Representatives Summerfield and Petryk
meeting with a Project SEARCH Intern

Project SEARCH Helps Students Achieve Greater Independence

The SEARCH program started in 1996 at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The idea was to train people with disabilities to fill some of the high-turnover positions which involved complex and systematic tasks. They learned that this was an untapped resource pool that could help other employers as well. The program expanded and now there are over 500 sites throughout the world.

In 2014, the legislature, in a show of bi-partisanship support, invested $850,000 to expand the number of Project SEARCH sites throughout the state as part of the “Year of the Better Bottom Line” Initiative, and allocated additional funds this last budget. Wisconsin was able to expand the program to over 27 sites statewide. This expansion led to the creation of the Eau Claire/Mayo Clinic site, which is now operating in its fourth year.

May 11th, 2021

The first group of student interns in the new Superior program, Project SEARCH, will be graduating Friday, June 4th and setting forth into the work world. We will have a short ceremony to recognize all the hard work and achievements the interns have put in this year, as well as recognition for the businesses of Superior who partnered with us. After the ceremony, a lunch will be provided for family, friends, and partners to enjoy the last day of the program, until next year.

April 15th, 2021

The Aspirus Wausau Hospital is trying its hand at sustainable gardening with its new vertical hydroponic gardens. They’re getting some help in the garden from their Project Search interns. The interns were excited to hear about their newest project.

October 29th, 2020

In recognition of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Mayo Clinic is celebrating the graduates of the Project Search program — a 30-week unpaid internship for high school students who have developmental or intellectual disabilities.

2019 Project SEARCH Graduation

Last year, 230 bright young individuals graduated from the program statewide, achieving a 92 percent graduation rate. In Eau Claire, the Mayo Clinic site has graduated 33 interns, with 5 currently working at the Mayo Clinic Health System or Morrison Healthcare. Other interns are also successfully working with other businesses throughout the area.

Representative Petryk, Governor Evers, and Dr. Helmers of Mayo Clinic attended the Project SEARCH graduation last year in Eau Claire

Representative Petryk, Governor Evers,
and Dr. Helmers of Mayo Clinic attended
the Project SEARCH graduation
last year in Eau Claire

The program interviews students to apply for the 9-month program. During the program, the students participate in rotations at their designated SEARCH site. During that time the interns learn employability skills like team building, workplace safety, financial literacy, and health and wellness. Each intern also gets customized job search assistance and works with the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation on employability following the program.

It is these unique collaborative partnerships with our educational system, vocational rehabilitation program, and our local employers that ensure the success of such a great program. To learn more about the program you can visit the Eau Claire School District’s website or the Mayo Clinic’s website and search for “Project SEARCH.” If you know someone who might be interested in the program, you can contact the Eau Claire School District Director of Special Education at mvanvleet@ecasd.us or 715-852-3074. Follow the progress of these amazing young men and women by visiting https://www.facebook.com/projectsearcheauclaire/.

October 10th, 2019

27 Project SEARCH businesses throughout Wisconsin were awarded a Certificate of Achievement by the Office of the Governor at the Governor’s Executive Residence in Madison, WI. First Lady Kathy Evers, Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes, and DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman were all in attendance to honor the recipients. .

27 Project SEARCH businesses throughout Wisconsin were awarded a Certificate of Achievement

November 28, 2018

Marshfield Clinic Health Systems in Marshfield, WI received America's Job Honors Award, in a packed house at the Monona Terrace in Madison, for their continued work with Project SEARCH and for hiring people with disabilities. A video is available highlighting the event at America's Job Honor Awards website.

WI DVR accepts 2018 Program Achievement Award

WI DVR accepts 2018 Program Achievement Award

October 25, 2018

The Department of Workforce Development received the 2018 Program Achievement Award at the Capitol, from the State Council of Affirmative Action (SCAA) and the Department of Administration Division of Personnel Management, for their work on Project SEARCH.

October 23, 2018

Project SEARCH Aspirus (Wausau), a brand new site that started this Fall, was featured on their local Channel 7 news.

October 16, 2018

Mercyhealth in Janesville, WI held a Ribbon Cutting event for their new Project SEARCH program which started in September 2018. WKOW TV and the Gazette featured it as a top story! Links below:

Project SEARCH National Conference

The 2021 PS Virtual National Conference awarded five sites with Excellent Outcome Awards:

  • Bellin Hospital/HSHS St. Vincent Hospital
  • Marshfield Medical Center
  • Mayo Clinic Health System
  • Sauk Prairie Healthcare System
  • University of Wisconsin Hospital