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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 28, 2024
CONTACT: DWD Communications

DWD, Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport, Celebrate Graduation of 12 Local Project SEARCH Interns

Project SEARCH Program Prepares Young Adults with Disabilities for Rewarding Careers

Sivohne Johnson prepping food
Sivohne Johnson, a graduate of North Division High School

MILWAUKEE – Twelve Milwaukee-area students spent the past nine months learning new skills and trying new work opportunities at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport through Project SEARCH, a collaborative program overseen by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR).

Johnson and Williams, along with 10 other students with disabilities, celebrated the completion of Project SEARCH on May 21 during a graduation ceremony that drew friends and families to Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport.

Imani Williams working at restaurant
Imani Williams, a graduate of MacDowell Montessori School

"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," said DWD Secretary Amy Pechacek. "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 at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport marked the completion of a nine- to 12-month immersive work experience. The interns recounted their hands-on experiences and talked about their future career opportunities. Many of this year's interns had an interest in music, so they performed their own version of Uptown Funk, with new lyrics including "it doesn’t make you weak if you ask for some help." The performance was led by Johnson and Williams.

In addition to the host site, the local internship experience was made possible by partners including the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), airport site business partners Paradies Lagardère and HMS Host; Goodwill Industries SEW; and Milwaukee Public Schools. 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.

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.