Project SEARCH

What is Project SEARCH?

Project SEARCH is a one-year school-to-work transition program designed for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are either in their last year of high school or are recent graduates. The Project SEARCH program model was developed at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 1996 and has been duplicated more than 500 times nationwide and in ten countries. Through this program, young adults develop the tools necessary for employment, and skills needed for self determination, management and self advocacy.

The cornerstone of Project SEARCH is total workplace immersion in a host business and related agencies. Participants are on site at the business each day for a minimum of six hours. The partners provide consistent on-site staff including a special education teacher and job coaches. Individual job development and placement occurs based on the participant’s experiences, strengths, and skills. Participants are given support with accommodations, adaptations and on-the-job coaching.

The Project SEARCH model involves an extensive period of training and career exploration, innovative adaptations, long-term job coaching, and continuous feedback from teachers, job coaches, and employers. As a result, at the completion of the training program, students with significant intellectual disabilities are often employed in nontraditional, complex and rewarding jobs.

Project SEARCH Host Employers and Partners

SEEC is proud to partner with The National Institutes of Health, Montgomery County Government, and Embassy Suites/Hilton Hotels on hosting interns as part of the Project SEARCH National Internship program model. 

These replications are made possible through a collaboration between our host business, Ivymount School, and SEEC. Funding partners include the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA), DC Rehabilitative Services Administration, and the Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS).

To date nearly 300 young adults have participated in Project SEARCH internships at NIH, Montgomery County Government, Smithsonian Institution, and Embassy Suites/Hilton Hotels. SEEC has over 120+ people working in the community and at host partners after they complete Project SEARCH. All Project SEARCH participants exit the program with marketable employment skills and robust resumes that can lead to paid employment.

What are the Benefits of Project SEARCH?


  • Participate in a variety of internships within the host business
  • Acquire competitive, transferable and marketable job skills
  • Gain increased independence, confidence, and self esteem
  • Obtain work-based individualized coaching, instruction and feedback
  • Develop linkages to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services and other adult service agencies


  • Access to a new, diverse, talent stream with skills that match labor needs
  • Gain intern/employees with disabilities who serve as role models for customers
  • Access to a demographic of the economy with intense buying power. (People with disabilities and their families represent one of the fastest growing market segments in the US.)
  • Experience increased regional and national recognition through marketing of this unique program
  • Increased performance and retention in some high-turnover, entry-level positions

Become a Host Business:

Project SEARCH has grown from its original program site at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to more than 500 replications nationwide and in ten countries. Business partners include, but are not limited to banks, universities, government agencies, hospitals, and in other settings. Project SEARCH’s primary objective is to secure competitive employment for people with disabilities.

For more information on joining Project SEARCH or becoming a host business, please email

*An application and parent questionnaire must be submitted for consideration.

On March 9, 2021, President Joe Biden visited our employer partner, W.S. Jenks and Sons hardware store.