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Project SEARCH®

Project SEARCH, founded in 1994 at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, is a nationally and internationally recognized program for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) who are interested in training and preparation for competitive employment. Under the leadership of J. Erin Riehle and Susie Rutkowski, there are more than 400 Project SEARCH programs throughout the United States, Great Britain, Australia, and Canada.

The cornerstone of Project SEARCH is total immersion in a large business. This high school transition program is for 18-21 year olds with intellectual and developmental disabilities that provides training and education leading to competitive employment. It serves as an alternative for students in their last year of high school. The Project SEARCH partnership involves a large business, a school district, a not-for-profit agency that provides employment supports for people with disabilities, state vocational rehabilitation services, and state offices for people with developmental disabilities.

For more information, visit the Project SEARCH website:

Project SEARCH New York

Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities (SCDD) serves as the statewide coordinator for Project SEARCH in New York State. Collaborating with the Project SEARCH team at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, SCDD provides technical assistance to communities who are interested in starting a Project SEARCH program. Please contact us for more information.

SCDD directly coordinates four local Project SEARCH programs in the Rochester area, including programs at Wegmans, the City of Rochester, the Del Monte Hotel Group, and the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Since 2009, the Rochester area Project SEARCH programs have graduated more than 100 youth. Our local programs have a tremendous success rate, with 84% of graduates successfully moving into competitive, integrated employment upon completion of the program. On average, our graduates are working more than 20 hours per week and earning at or above minimum wage.

For more information about our local programs, download the Project SEARCH Brochure.

New York State Project SEARCH Expansion

The B. Thomas Golisano Foundation brought Project SEARCH to the Greater Rochester Area and provided the essential funding to develop local partnerships. The NYS Developmental Disability Planning Council and the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities provided funding to support initial coordination and expansion of Project SEARCH across New York State.

Project SEARCH Evaluation

SCDD partnered with the National Project SEARCH team at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to measure and evaluate the long-term impact of Project SEARCH on employment outcomes for youth and young adults with IDD. Analysis of longitudinal outcome data indicates that Project SEARCH not only prepares participants to enter the workforce, but that program graduates are successfully maintaining employment over time. Read more about the evaluation's findings.

For more information, please contact Kaitlyn Richardson, M.P.P.