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Stone Belt Divisions :  Milestones Clinical & Health Resources 

Project SEARCH


What is Project SEARCH?

Modeled on a nationally recognized program developed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Project SEARCH provides students aged 18-24 with quality, paid and unpaid internship experiences in the “real world.” Through Project SEARCH Indiana, participants can experience innovative employment and career development opportunities.

Working with teams of employment service providers and local businesses, Project SEARCH participants develop a variety of skills including:

• specific job skills
• ability to respond to employer expectations
• workplace social skills
• interviewing skills

Project SEARCH began in Indiana in 2008 and currently there are eight Project SEARCH programs in the state. This is the only model to focus on young adults.

Community Collaboration

Project SEARCH is based on a partnership that includes Cook, Inc.; Ivy Tech; Stone Belt; Indiana Family & Social Services Administration Office of Vocational Rehabilitation; and Indiana University Institute on Disability and Community. The program occurs on-site at Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington and Cook, Inc.  

The cornerstone of Project SEARCH is total immersion in a large business. The Project’s two host businesses, Cook, Inc. and Ivy Tech, offer students a unique hands on learning experience.


Who Should Apply?

Candidates for Project SEARCH should:

• be between the ages of 18 and 24
• be willing to work at least 20 hours a week
• have applied and be found eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation Services in Indiana
• be able to meet the specific hiring requirements of their employer (drug screen, immunizations, etc)
• have already met all high school certificate/diploma requirements.

Candidates are selected based on the above criteria. There are a limited number of opportunities available. Currently, our next slate of participants are scheduled to start January 11, 2016. The class will run until September, 2016. Deadline for applying for the next class is November 20.

If you or anyone you know may be interested in Project SEARCH, please contact Bitta DeWees at 812-335-3507 ext. 173 for an application or to answer any questions you may have.


A Typical Day

Participants spend two hours a day learning in a classroom setting at the Ivy Tech Bloomington Life Sciences building. An instructor will work on resume development, mock interviews and portfolio development. There will occasionally be guest speakers and trainers. Participants will also learn how to use a variety of public transportation options available to travel between the classroom and work site.

A typical day includes:

• Classroom instruction in employment and independent living skills (1 hour)
• Job Rotations (2 hours)
• Lunch (30 minutes)
• Job Rotations (2 hours)
• Classroom instruction (1 hour)

Participants will have monthly progress meetings to define their career goal and plan necessary steps to achieve that goal.


Participant Benefits

Participants leave their Project SEARCH internships with a detailed portfolio of their work experiences including photos, recognitions and letters of recommendation that can be used to show potential employers. All leave with either a job at their Project SEARCH host business, a job with a related business, or with a team to assist them in obtaining employment.

Employers value the dedication and the quality of work that individuals with disabilities often bring to their workplaces. As a result, interns are accepted, nurtured and challenged to learn and to do more in their jobs. Most participants find their Project SEARCH experience both fulfilling and rewarding as they gain self-confidence, ability and self-esteem throughout the program.


Employer Benefits

Businesses have wonderful interns who help with their daily operations while they are learning and then are left with a trained pool of applicants to interview for positions as they become available. This in turn may reduce recruitment costs. The businesses will also be viewed as companies that value the contributions of all individuals in the community.

To learn more, contact Bitta DeWees, director of community employment, at 812-335-3507 ext. 173 or bdewees@stonebelt.org.