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Project SEARCH Helps Developmentally-Disabled Youth Transition from School to Work

Aug. 30, 2017 — The Project SEARCH Transition to Work Program recently graduated its first group of participants.

The school-to-work program gives developmentally-disabled youth the opportunity to earn hands-on work experience, helping them transition from school to adult life. The graduates worked with divisions located at the Dorothea Dix Campus in Raleigh, including Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Child Support, Property and Construction, Motor Fleet, Print Shop, Child Development and the Office of the Controller. 

The program began in August 2016 and offers the graduates valuable skills and experiences that will help them excel in the future.  

“Before I joined the program, I had little success finding jobs that fit my strengths and challenged me to improve myself as a person,” said Project SEARCH intern Vicky Gan, who worked with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services. “My experience with Project SEARCH has helped me get a job that fulfills those requirements, and I gained new friendships along the way.”

The successful collaboration between the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Community Workforce Solutions, Alliance Behavioral Health and Wake Technical Community College created a new paradigm for Project SEARCH, which is typically hosted in a hospital setting. The Dix Campus Project SEARCH is the first in the nation to be hosted by a state agency. More importantly, eight interns were hired for permanent positions at DHHS by the end of the internship program. 

Claudia Horn, DHHS Senior Director of Employment Services, sees Project SEARCH as a great opportunity for young people with disabilities.

“We want North Carolina to be a leader in helping young people with disabilities transition to independence and adulthood, and jobs with competitive wages and benefits are key to achieving economic self-sufficiency,” she said.  “Project SEARCH provides interns the chance to learn and practice skills that will help them be successful in their future.” 

The Project SEARCH graduates are:

  • Omar Abdullah-Lutes
  • Victoria Gan
  • Stanley Ferrell
  • Melissa Morales
  • Samantha Munson
  • Sinterris “Terry” Smith
  • Chanel Torres
  • Brianna Wall
  • Fausto “Andy” Zurita

Project SEARCH starts another class on the Dix campus this fall.

Ryan Hill