Workforce Prep with Project SEARCH

Now in its third year, Project SEARCH Howard County enables students with disabilities in their last year of high school to explore professions full time through internship rotations. The participants not only develop the tools necessary for employment but also grow in self- determination, self-management and self-advocacy.

More than 67 percent of the first two cohort participants are employed by local companies, such as Colosseum Gym, Giant Food, Jiffy Lube, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, MOM’s Organic Market, Shady Spring Pet Retreat, Turf Valley Resort and ZIPS Dry Cleaners.

This year’s Project SEARCH students are preparing to join the workforce by taking on a wide range of internship opportunities. Placement highlights include the Office of Clerk of the Circuit Court for Howard County, North Laurel Community Center, the Savage branch of the Howard County Library System, and the county’s Department of Public Works Bureau of Utilities.

Project SEARCH is a nationally recognized model that involves an extensive training period, innovative adaptations, long-term job coaching, and continuous feedback from teachers, job coaches and employers.

Project SEARCH is just one way HCPSS provides college and career readiness for students with special needs. The school system also offers employment transition training through the programs Start on Success, Community Connection, Work Enclave and Work Study.

The Project Search program is possible thanks to partnerships with Howard County Government as the host business, Howard County Autism Society, The Arc of Howard County and the Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS). The program is funded mainly through grants from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation and the Lisa Higgins-Hussman Foundation, and state-funded DORS initiatives.