Project SEARCH

Ensuring The Success of Youth

Tamara benefits from Project SEARCH

“I will be independent.” – Tamara Thomas, who participated in Project SEARCH 2010/2011.

Project SEARCH is a one year program that provides education and on-site training to prepare youth with disabilities to be work ready upon graduation from high school. The program, which serves as a workforce alternative for students in their last year of high school, is located at a community health-care facility.

Students are chosen for the program by a selection committee made up of individuals from the organizations involved in the Project SEARCH collaboration, including the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), the Down Syndrome Association, Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare, and local school systems.

Students participating in Project SEARCH report each day to the host business, learn employability skills in the classroom, and job skills while participating in three to four unpaid internships/experiences during the year. Students actively participate in defining their career goal and planning the necessary steps to achieve that goal. Students also have the added benefit of learning life skills, such as utilizing public transportation, to report to work sites. The ultimate goal, upon program completion, is competitive employment utilizing the skills learned on the internships and throughout the program.

Project SEARCH Eligibility

All students interested in participating in Project SEARCH must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have completed high school credits necessary for graduation
  • Agree that this is intended to be the last year of student services followed by employment
  • Meet eligibility requirements for Commonwealth of Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services
  • Meet eligibility requirements for follow along funding (this is preferred but not necessary)
  • Have independent personal hygiene and grooming skills
  • Have independent daily living skills
  • Maintain appropriate behavior and social skills in the workplace
  • Take direction from supervisors and show capacity to change behavior
  • Be able to communicate effectively
  • Utilize public transportation when available and participate in travel training when appropriate to ensure success in using the bus independently
  • Have previous experience in a work environment (including home, school, volunteer, or paid work)
  • Pass drug screen, felony check and have all immunizations up to date
  • Desire and plan to work competitively in the community at the conclusion of the Project SEARCH program

Project SEARCH is offered to individuals living in the Cities of Roanoke and Salem, and Counties of Roanoke, Botetourt, and Tazwell.

For more information on the Project SEARCH, e-mail or call (540) 581.0620 option 5.