Maria Alm, interim dean of the College of Education, Hospitality, Health and Human Sciences, agreed.
“Project SEARCH aligns wonderfully with the work of the Stout Vocational Rehabilitation Institute, our campus commitment to diversity and inclusivity, as well as with several of our highly ranked programs, such as our master’s in rehabilitation counseling and our undergraduate degree in rehabilitation services,” Alm said, noting U.S. News and World Report in 2019 ranked the master’s in rehabilitation program No. 4 in the United States.
Project SEARCH provides real-life work-based learning experiences through unpaid internships that are combined with employability skills instruction, soft-skills training and independent-living skills training essential to obtaining and maintaining successful employment. Interns learn and apply skills including teamwork, workplace safety, work ethic, understanding and meeting employer performance and behavior expectations, interpersonal communications, technology, self-advocacy and financial literacy. The yearlong program culminates in supported job development and placement in a career pathway consistent with individual interests, skills and abilities.
The UW-Stout Project SEARCH will be staffed by a special education teacher and qualified work skills trainers provided by partner organizations who work directly with the interns. Participant costs are funded by the Wisconsin Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, and program costs are funded by the participating school districts and other partner organizations.
The UW-Stout Project SEARCH is a partnership of the Wisconsin Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, L.E. Phillips Career Development Center in Eau Claire, multiple long-term support provider organizations and several local school districts.
Project SEARCH began in 1996 at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Emergency Department. The program has grown from the initial site to over 621 employment sites in 47 states and 10 countries internationally. Since 2010 over 30,545 young adults with disabilities have successfully participated and obtained quality employment. There are 30 Project SEARCH sites in Wisconsin at companies such as Mayo Clinic, Sauk Prairie Hospital, Marshfield Medical Center, Mitchell International Airport, and the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
Nationwide, employment for Project SEARCH graduates during the 2017-18 school year was 67.1%. That same year, 69% of Wisconsin Project SEARCH graduates were employed.
The Stout Vocational Rehabilitation Institute provides programs and practices in disability and employment through partnerships in research, training, education and services.