Project SEARCH

The Project SEARCH Story

In 1996, while working as the Director of the Emergency Department at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Erin Riehle was frustrated with the high turnover rate in entry-level jobs that involved restocking supplies.

Simultaneously, Cincinnati Children's had adopted a major diversity initiative, taking a policy statement from the American College of Healthcare Executives, which read, "Healthcare organizations must lead their communities in increasing employment opportunities for qualified persons with disabilities and advocate on behalf of their employment to other organizations." Erin wondered if people with disabilities could fill the entry level jobs she had. Not knowing anyone with a disability she turned to Great Oaks Career Campuses and the Hamilton County Board of Developmental Disability Services and asked if her idea was possible. Together with these organizations the idea of filling a handful of jobs in Cincinnati Children's Emergency Department evolved into a comprehensive program model — Project SEARCH.

Program Growth

Project SEARCH has grown from one original program site at Cincinnati Children's to 286 sites across 42 states and four countries. National and international business partners include: Cleveland Clinic, Health First in Melbourne, Rosen Shingle Creek (Orlando), Zoo Miami, Fifth Third Bank, Wal-Mart Distribution Centers, National Institute of Health — Clinical Center, Smithsonian, Xavier University, Medtronic, the Federal Department of the Interior, McConnell Air Force Base, Indiana State Government, Emory Midtown Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, Embassy Suites, BWI Hilton, The University of Rochester Medical Center and more than 30 sites in the United Kingdom.

Our mission is to transform lives through lifelong learning and the power of work.

Project SEARCH Collaborators

Goodwill Industries-Suncoast, Inc. (GIS) has been helping people with barriers to employment find meaningful work since 1954. GIS’s mission of transforming lives through lifelong learning and the power of work is evident in their training programs and placement assistance for people with disabilities. Program participants earn credentials in customer service, food handing and service, hospitality and retail skills. In 2023, GIS was asked to be the preferred provider by the National Project SEARCH Office for Johns Hopkins ALL Children’s Hospital. Goodwill Industries-Suncoast, Inc. Is a 501 © (3) nonprofit organization that serves people in counties throughout West Central Florida.

Florida Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is a federal-state program that helps people who have physical or mental disabilities get or keep a job. VR is committed to helping people with disabilities find meaningful careers.

Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital is the most advanced children's hospital on Florida's west coast and is ranked in multiple specialties by U.S. News & World Report. With over 50 pediatric specialties and subspecialties and 259 beds, Johns Hopkins All Children's is dedicated to advancing children's health through treatment, research, education and advocacy. A network of 11 outpatient care centers in six counties along with affiliate programs at regional hospitals makes Johns Hopkins All Children's a leading provider of care for Florida's children.

Pinellas County Schools serves about 13,600 students with disabilities and 6,200 students who are gifted. The mission of Exceptional Student Education (ESE) is to provide quality services that support effective learning opportunities for all exceptional children. Pinellas County Schools provides a full continuum of services, which include but are not limited to educational, vocational and behavioral support, to meet the needs of eligible students while allowing access to general education instruction with non-disabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate for each student.