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Project SEARCH

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About Project SEARCH

The state of Michigan (SOM) Project SEARCH is a program that is providing local high school students with disabilities the opportunity to train, gain and maintain employment through businesses and organization opportunities across the nation. The state continues to create opportunities for people with disabilities and we look forward to the future growth of Project SEARCH within state government.

Project SEARCH Overview 
Project SEARCH in Michigan State Government 
Project SEARCH Program Toolkit for Schools (Sample) 
Project SEARCH Program Toolkit for State of Michigan Departments
Project SEARCH Testimonials
Michigan Project SEARCH Sites


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 450 sites across the United States and Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and the Netherlands. Project SEARCH's primary objective is to secure competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities. Project SEARCH has a successful employment rate of 75.5 percent over 358 sites worldwide for the 2015-16 school year.

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Music from "Imagefilm 008" by Sascha Ende ( Licence: CC BY (


Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Michigan Rehabilitative Services (MRS)
Jonathan Bischoff

State of Michigan Project SEARCH Instructor
Alana Anderson

Ingham Intermediate School District
Sarah Winslow