Description of Service

Project SEARCH is a school-to-work transition program that allows young adults to gain valuable experience in the workplace while developing their skills.

Founded in 1996 at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, OH, the now International Project SEARCH program is “a school-to-work transition program that provides real-life work experience combined with training in employability and independent-living skills to help young people with significant disabilities make successful transitions to productive adult life.” Project SEARCH “involves an extensive period of skills training and career exploration, innovative adaptations, long-term job coaching, and continuous feedback from teachers, skills trainers, and employers…as a result, at the completion of the training program, students with significant intellectual disabilities are employed in nontraditional, complex and rewarding jobs.” Participants are “typically high school students who are on an Individual Education Program (IEP) and in their last year of high school eligibility…the most important criterion for acceptance into Project SEARCH is a desire to achieve competitive employment.” The program is successful through a collaboration between a host business, public school district, funding source (typically Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD)), a provider agency (Capabilities), and oftentimes a local county board of developmental disabilities (DoDD). Participants complete three different internships throughout the school year based on availability and interests.

Capabilities currently provides Project SEARCH services in the following areas:

Athens: OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital since 2018

Circleville: OhioHealth Berger Hospital since 2018

Dayton: Kettering Health Network Grandview Medical Center since 2012

St. Marys: Since 2018

Toledo: University of Toledo (main campus) and The University of Toledo Early Learning Center since 2010

What does the Service Look Like?

Intern working at Grandview Medical Center in Dayton, OHThis program will typically last for a full school year and you will defer your diploma until the program is completed. You will spend approximately five hours on Mondays through Fridays at the internship, which includes a 30-minute lunch. The first few weeks are dedicated to helping you familiarize yourself with the host business and develop a career plan by deciding on the different areas or job fields you are interested in. Each of the three internships you complete will provide new, transferable skills that will be beneficial when entering the workforce. The internships allow you to be fully immersed in areas/departments of the host business to offer you real-world experience. Each day, a Capabilities Career Consultant (skills trainer) will collaborate with the Project SEARCH instructor and department staff to provide you with the support you need to be successful. Throughout the school year, you will learn employability and functional skills in a classroom setting that focus on “team building, workplace safety, technology, maintaining employment, self-advocacy, financial literacy, health and wellness, and preparing for employment.” Toward the end of the program, the focus shifts to the job search process. Capabilities can provide Job Development services to assist you with finding a job and can also offer On-the-Job Supports (job coaching) to assist you with learning and maintaining your new position and adapting to the workplace.


For the Job Seeker: The Project SEARCH program provides an individual with real-world work experience and the support needed to secure and maintain a new position upon completion of the program.

For the Employer: As we assist more individuals with preparing to enter into the workforce, employers will see an increase in quality candidates who are eager to seek employment and who will be dedicated to the role they are applying for.

For the Funding Source: The collaboration with OOD demonstrates the value Capabilities brings to providing support for people with disabilities. Experienced and seasoned Capabilities staff are carefully selected to work closely with the Project SEARCH interns; as we also provide job placement and retention services, this demonstrates our seamless and comprehensive approach to guiding people on their journey to competitive employment.