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Tony Evers, Governor
Amy Pechacek, Secretary

Department of Workforce Development
Secretary's Office

201 E. Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 7946
Madison, WI 53707-7946
Telephone: (608) 266-3131
Fax: (608) 266-1784

May 14, 2024
CONTACT: DWD Communications

DWD, UW-Stout, Celebrate Graduation of Nine Local Project SEARCH Interns

Project SEARCH Program Prepares Young Adults with Disabilities for Rewarding Careers

5 Project SEARCH interns
Kendra and Kaylee Schofield are all smiles posing for friends and family with fellow Project SEARCH graduates Jaden Stolp, Seth Holmlund, and Presley Audorff.

MENOMONIE – Kendra Schofield spent the past nine months learning new skills and trying new work opportunities at the University of Wisconsin-Stout (UW-Stout) through Project SEARCH, a collaborative program overseen by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR).

Schofield, a graduate from Chippewa Falls High School, particularly enjoyed working for UW-Stout's dining services, where she learned to prepare and serve food for students and staff on campus.

"The number one thing I learned was better coping skills and better ways to motivate myself during hard days," Schofield said. "Future interns should know that they will enjoy the process of learning new skills."

Schofield, along with her twin sister and seven other students with disabilities, celebrated the completion of Project SEARCH on Friday, May 10, during a graduation ceremony that drew friends and families to the UW-Stout campus. With help learning new work skills through Project SEARCH, Schofield will soon begin a part-time job as a childcare assistant at 123 Look at Me Learning in Eau Claire.

All Project SEARCH interns and DWD Leadership
DWD Deputy Secretary Pam McGillivray and UW-Stout Project SEARCH staff pose with this year's graduates. Front row, left to right are Meg Erickson (staff), Pam McGillivray, Kaylee Schofield, Kendra Schofield, McKenna DeMarce, Em Rainer (staff), and Wesley Booth; back row left to right are Daymian Anderson, Presley Audorff, Justyn Compton, Jaden Stolp, Seth Holmlund, and Brooke Vanderwyst (staff).

"The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development is excited to celebrate the state's nearly 200 Project SEARCH graduates, who have explored new skills, expanded their opportunities, and earned a great sense of accomplishment in the work they have done over the past nine months," DWD Secretary Amy Pechacek said. "In Wisconsin, successful programs like Project SEARCH reaffirm the tremendous skills and talents individuals with disabilities bring to the workforce, and that success would not be possible without the dedicated employers and statewide partners who deliver the program, day in and day out."

The graduation ceremony, held at the University of Wisconsin-Stout Memorial Student Center, marked the completion of immersive work experiences that ranged from nine months to a year. The interns recounted their hands-on experiences and talked about their future career opportunities.

In addition to the host site, the local internship experience was made possible by partners including DVR, the L.E. Phillips Career Development Center, Chippewa Falls School District, Stout Vocational Rehabilitation Institute, TMG Wisconsin, and Inclusa. Statewide, 28 premier employers are participating in Project SEARCH this year.

Project SEARCH is a collaborative effort among state vocational rehabilitation agencies, area schools, local employers, and long-term care organizations to help interns acquire marketable, competitive, and transferable skills that lead to employment. The interns complete multiple 10-week rotations to maximize exposure to different career paths and learn both employability skills in a classroom and hands-on job skills in the business environment. Project SEARCH graduation ceremonies are taking place across the state in May and June.

Started at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in 1996, Project SEARCH has provided workforce training to over 1,800 Wisconsin residents since its statewide launch in 2008. For more information, visit Project SEARCH Wisconsin.


Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development efficiently delivers effective and inclusive services to meet Wisconsin's diverse workforce needs now and for the future. The department advocates for and invests in the protection and economic advancement of all Wisconsin workers, employers and job seekers through six divisions – Employment and Training, Vocational Rehabilitation, Unemployment Insurance, Equal Rights, Worker's Compensation and Administrative Services. To keep up with DWD announcements and information, sign up for news releases and follow us on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.