Robeson Community College

Southeastern Health to host Project SEARCH: Robeson Community College implements award-winning job training program


Southeastern Health (SeHealth) has partnered with Robeson Community College (RCC) to implement Project SEARCH, a nationally recognized program for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) who are interested in training and preparing for competitive employment. The N.C. Council on Developmental Disabilities selected the College and Career Readiness department at RCC and helped fund the implementation of the program. The Project SEARCH experience provides innovative employment and career development opportunities, integrating classroom training with real work experience. The goal of the program is to obtain paid employment for these interns. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Leading Practices on Disability Inclusion report, hiring people with disabilities positively impacts the workplace in many ways. As the business host site, SeHealth provides a classroom and the internship placements. Since the Project SEARCH model focuses on the needs of both the student and potential employer, SeHealth has benefited from the interns who help with their daily operations while they are learning. The hospital now has access to a trained pool of applicants to interview for future positions. Having the Project SEARCH class on campus has proven to be a mutually beneficial arrangement that impacts the hospital staff and interns alike. The interns spend the entire school day at the workplace, beginning with a classroom session that teaches employability and independent living skills such as effective communication, problem solving, and independent travel. After completing basic job skills training, the students receive internship placements in various departments at SeHealth. Department managers provide support, including mentoring and job coaching, to each intern. SeHealth values the dedication and the quality of work that the Project SEARCH interns bring to the hospital. The interns are being nurtured and challenged to learn as they gain self-confidence and employability skills throughout the program. In addition to SeHealth, RCC has partnered with many community organizations to make Project SEARCH a success. A group of service organizations collaborated to submit the funding proposal as well as meet monthly to oversee the administration of the program. Through a braided funding system, each partner organization contributes a share of the resources necessary to implement Project SEARCH. Vocational rehabilitation provides case management and supportive services and Revelation Placement Agency provides onsite job coaching services. To join in the program, students should enroll in the RCC Adult Basic Education Transition program, formerly known as Compensatory Education. Project SEARCHTM was founded in 1994 at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

This article was created by Amanda L. Crabtree of Southeastern Health. She may be reached at 910-671-5499. For more information about Project Search at Robeson Community College, contact Elizabeth Hunt by email at or by phone at 910-272-3612.