Special Education -- Project Search

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Project Search

Project SEARCH is transition program that helps young adults with disabilities obtain gainful employment.

For more information, contact kathy.hurley@kresa.org or (269) 250-9701. 

Project SEARCH makes sure students develop skills that transfer to the workplace. They will be immersed into the workings of Bronson Methodist Hospital. Working with the one of the area’s largest employers creates new opportunity for students. The program will focus on developing the strength areas, not deficits of the student. Project SEARCH also works promotes independence. This includes areas such as transportation, daily living skills, and more.

Project SEARCH in Kalamazoo is collaboration of organizations:

  • Bronson Methodist Hospital
  • Bureau of Services for Blind Persons
  • Disability Network of Southwest Michigan
  • Greenleaf Hospitality Group
  • Integrated Services of Kalamazoo
  • Kalamazoo RESA and its local school districts
  • Michigan Rehabilitation Services

Student Requirements

Students must meet criteria of Bronson and its partners.

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Completed four years of high school
  • Agree that this will be the last year of student services, and will accept diploma/certificate of completion at the end of the school year
  • Meet eligibility requirements for Michigan Rehabilitation Services or Michigan Commission for the Blind
  • Meet eligibility requirements for Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (Medicaid Eligible)
  • Demonstrates personal hygiene and self-care skills that are fit for the workplace
  • Have behavior and social skills that meet the professional standards of the workplace
  • Take direction from supervisors and adjust performance
  • Be able to communicate effectively
  • Arrange and utilize public transportation or other modes of transportation.
  • Participate in travel training as needed to ensure success in using the public transportation alone
  • Ability to do physical work up to five hours per day Have previous experience in a work environment (including school, volunteer, and paid work)
  • Ability to pass drug screen and felony check Have up-to-date immunizations that are compliant with Bronson standards
  • Desire and plan to work in the community at the end of the Project SEARCH program

Type of Work

The work interns perform at Bronson Methodist Hospital is entry level. These tasks are part of the job description in each department. They are necessary to uphold the quality standards of Bronson. A student may be assigned to:

  • Food preparation
  • Linens Distribution
  • Equipment tech
  • Infection prevention
  • Environmental services
  • Customer services associate
  • Material tech

We are always working to expand and create new internships throughout the hospital.

Additional Questions & Answers

Will the student get paid for this experience?

A student who participates in Project SEARCH will not get paid. This is an unpaid internship experience to develop essential skills that will market the student in order to find meaningful work and be competitively employed in the community.

How are the students selected for this program?

Local school districts, the Young Adult Program at Kalamazoo RESA, and area case workers will recommend students. Staff from each partner organization will interview applicants that were recommended. To take part in the program, the candidate must have an open file with Michigan Rehabilitation Services.

Does a student need to be enrolled in the Young Adult Program to participate in Project SEARCH?

In Kalamazoo County, students who will participate in Project SEARCH must be enrolled in Young Adult Program at Kalamazoo RESA. Students in their last year of high school, may apply to Project SEARCH and take part in the interview and selection process. If selected, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) will be held to address needs that will be met during their year at Project SEARCH.

How was Project SEARCH started?

Erin Riehle was the director of the emergency department at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. In 1996, she began Project SEARCH with one student. Now, Project SEARCH has more than 620 sites across 49 states and 10 countries.

What is the Project SEARCH Business Advisory Council (BAC)?

The purpose of the Business Advisory Council (BAC) is to help move the Project SEARCH interns into competitive employment once they have completed the program. The BAC is able to provide our program with valuable input about trends within industry – what skills are in demand? What areas have high turnover? What positions are open and unfilled? This input helps us train our interns with the high demand skills needed as we strive for 100 percent of our interns to secure employment each year. The BAC can also assist with creating employment opportunities for current Project SEARCH interns and alumni. Council members act as ambassadors for the program by meeting with colleagues to educate them about Project SEARCH and find employment opportunities.

Who can I contact for more information?

Adam Danapilis
Project SEARCH Administrator
Kalamazoo RESA
(269) 250-9602

Kathy Hurley
Transition Coordinator
Kalamazoo RESA
(269) 250-9701

Joann Hurst
Project SEARCH Instructor
Bronson Healthcare
(269) 341-8596

Kelly Tucker
Project SEARCH Skills Trainer
Bronson Healthcare
(269) 341-8596