Program for Students with Disabilities Honors Third Graduating Class

Deputy Secretary for Human Services Mark Benton speaks to the Project SEARCH graduates.

Deputy Secretary for Human Services Mark Benton speaks to the Project SEARCH graduates.

June 5, 2019 – The Project SEARCH Transition to Work Program celebrated nine graduates during a ceremony held last month at Raleigh’s Dorothea Dix Campus. 

The program combines classroom instruction, career exploration and relevant job-skills training with internships for students with intellectual and other disabilities. This year’s graduates worked with several NC Department of Health and Human Services divisions and offices on the Dix campus. Those included the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, the Division of Social Services’ Child Support Services, the Division of Child Development and Early Education and the Office of the Controller.

“I would like to thank not only the students and families represented here today, but also the many DHHS and community partners that all came together to make sure that this was a truly meaningful experience that was preparing our students for the world of work,” said Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services Director Kathie Trotter. 

Project SEARCH began in 1996 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has since spread to 400 sites worldwide. There are 14 programs in North Carolina alone. Project SEARCH serves three purposes: to provide work experience and opportunities to learn job skills through internships, help those interns find and secure a job, and support those graduates while on the job and help them advance whenever possible.

Since the Dix campus program was established in 2017, 95 percent of graduates have gone on to competitive, integrated employment in their communities at places such as NC State University, Wake Technical Community College, Belk, Food Lion and Home Depot. 

“The value of the program and for our graduates is really evident in the outcomes,” said Deputy Secretary for Health Services Mark Benton.

Project SEARCH is made possible through a collaboration between DHHS, the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Community Workforce Solutions, Alliance Behavioral Health and Wake Technical Community College. 

This year’s DHHS Project SEARCH graduates are:

•    Christopher Costello
•    Avanna Davenport
•    Donteria Doughty
•    Tasha Duell
•    Declan Newkirk
•    Gregory Sacks
•    Matthew Schwab
•    Antonio Taylor
•    Vanessa Web

The next Project SEARCH class is scheduled to begin in October.

Ryan Hill