Project SEARCH Kicks Off in Howard County

Welcome Project SEARCH Class of 2015

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We are proud to welcome our first Project SEARCH class and to bring this nationally recognized internship program for students with disabilities to Howard County. A welcome picnic was held at The Arc of Howard County on August 18, and provided the interns with an opportunity to get to know each other, have a little bonding time and participate in some team building activities (picnic photos). The program officially kicked off on August 25, with the start of the Howard County Public School System’s academic calendar.

Through Project SEARCH, the young adults will participate in a classroom component while rotating among three diverse internship opportunities in Howard County Government’s various departments and sites, where they will explore a variety of career paths and acquire job skills. The students will work with a team that includes their family, a special education teacher, Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) counselor and The Arc to support each student during the transition from school to work. Project SEARCH program staff include: Kim McKay, Program Manager; Alex Gerus, HCPSS Teacher; Linda Hoyt, Arc Job Coach; and Cyndi Hendrickson, HCPSS Student Assistant.

The students will be assigned their first internships in early September. Once assignments have been made, the students will have classroom instruction for one hour each day and will spend 4-5 hours daily at their respective internship sites.

Funding for the program has been received from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, which awarded The Arc of Howard County a grant for $110,000 to launch Project SEARCH in Howard County. The start-up grant provides funding for a project manager and consultant fees for 18 months. The Lisa Higgins-Hussman Foundation has also provided a grant to fund the certification fee to be part of the national and international network of Project SEARCH sites.

Community partners for Project SEARCH Howard County include Howard County Government as the host business, Howard County Public School System, Howard County Autism Society and the Maryland DORS.

Project SEARCH is a national program that began in 1996 in Cincinnati. Since its inception, Project SEARCH has grown from a single program site to over 200 sites across the United States and Canada, England, Scotland, and Australia. Project SEARCH’s primary objective is to secure competitive employment for people with disabilities by providing a one-year internship program for students in their last year of high school. Locally, Project SEARCH grew out of efforts by the Howard County Interagency Transition Council for Youth with Disabilities, established by Executive Order of County Executive Ken Ulman in 2013.