Paige Parr - Project SEARCH Statewide Coordinator
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Representatives Summerfield and Petryk
meeting with a Project SEARCH Intern
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-852-3074. Follow the progress of these amazing young men and women by visiting https://www.facebook.com/projectsearcheauclaire/.
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. .
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
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.
Project SEARCH Aspirus (Wausau), a brand new site that started this Fall, was featured on their local Channel 7 news.
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:
The 2020 PS National Conference was not held due to COVID-19. Seven sites received employment awards:
Dept. of Workforce Development: Project SEARCH promotes bright futures for young adults with disabilities. Read full news release...
Wisconsin Dept. of Workforce Development celebrates graduates of Project SEARCH. Watch the News 8 WKBT-TV La Crosse Video...
First Lady Kathy Evers, DWD Secretary-Designee Frostman Visit University Hospital, Highlight Project SEARCH. Read full news release...
DWD Secretary-designee Frostman Visits Milwaukee's Gen. Mitchell Airport to Highlight Project SEARCH Program, Discuss Budget. Gov. Evers' budget fully funds Project SEARCH program. Read full news release...