Project SEARCH, the Alabama program launched in 2012 to provide students with significant disabilities professional work experience, passed another milestone May 29.
The Project SEARCH site operating at Birmingham Southern College (BSC) held its first graduation ceremony and reception to honor the 10 participants enrolled at that location.
The program is a total immersion, business-led, school-to-work plan for young persons with significant cognitive and physical disabilities. Before ADRS helped start the pilot in Alabama two years ago, the program had a long history of success at more than 200 locations across 40 states, said Tina Dortch, supported employment coordinator.
Program statistics show that persons with disabilities who participate in the program have a 67 percent rate of employment, which is significantly higher than the rate for persons not participating in the program, she said.
Alabama’s implementation of the project appears no different. Seven of the 10 graduates ( 70 percent) at the BSC location had already accepted job offers and been placed into permanent employment by their completion of the program.
“Clearly, Project SEARCH works. These students are gaining much-needed and necessary skills before going out into the real world,” said Dortch.
Project SEARCH is a collaborative effort among ADRS, United Cerebral Palsy, Birmingham City Schools, BSC, the Alabama Council on Developmental Disabilities, the State Department of Education, and the Alabama Department of Mental Health.