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About Spartan Project SEARCH

Spartan Project SEARCH’s inaugural year has started this Fall semester at Michigan State University! Spartan Project SEARCH is a partnership between MSU, Ingham Intermediate School District, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan Rehabilitation Services, Community Mental Health, Peckham Inc., and the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons.

Spartan Project SEARCH brings a successful national program for young adults with developmental disabilities to the campus of Michigan State University, one of 12 program sites starting in Michigan. Participants will experience classroom and on-the-job learning in a variety of settings, with leadership and expertise from researchers in the MSU College of Education.

The Secondary Transition program is a one-year educational program for students with disabilities. Participants have met local district requirements and spend a school year reporting to the Project SEARCH host business where they learn skills needed to obtain employment.

Spartan Project SEARCH combines classroom time provided by Ingham Intermediate School District with a year-long unpaid internship at Michigan State University. This combination of instruction and immersion in the workplace prepares interns to meet employer expectations. Participants gain experience in a variety of settings that will align to their interests, abilities and availability.

About Project SEARCH

Project SEARCH was developed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, a research environment that fosters visionary thinking and innovation. It all began in 1996, when Erin Riehle was Director of Cincinnati Children’s Emergency Department. Erin felt that, because the hospital served individuals with developmental disabilities, it made sense that they should commit to hiring people in this group. She wondered if it would be possible to train people with developmental disabilities to fill some of the high-turnover, entry level positions in her department, which involved complex and systematic tasks such as stocking supply cabinets. As a starting point, Erin presented her ideas to Susie Rutkowski, then the special education director at Great Oaks Career Campuses. Erin and Susie formed a partnership that was instantaneous, and together they launched Project SEARCH.

Since its inception, Project SEARCH has grown from a single program site at Cincinnati Children’s to over 300 sites across the United States and Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, and Australia. Project SEARCH’s primary objective is to secure competitive employment for people with disabilities.