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WINCHESTER, Va. — NW Works is thrilled to announce the ProjectSEARCH team was awarded for excellence during the 2018-2019 academic year. 

The Employment Outcome Award recognized the ProjectSEARCH team’s 100 placement rate during the 2018-2019 school year, with eight students employed within a year after the program’s completion. In that same year, only two other programs in the Commonwealth of Virginia had 100 percent placement rates. The team would have received their award at ProjectSEARCH’s national conference in Baltimore this summer, but the conference was unfortunately cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ProjectSEARCH is an international program which helps young adults with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 22 who have graduated from high school transition from the school system into the workforce. ProjectSEARCH is a joint partnership between NW Works, the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services, the Northwestern Community Service Board, Valley Health, Winchester City Public Schools, and Frederick County Public Schools, where students participate in three rotating internships throughout Winchester Medical Center. 

NW Works Skills trainer and Employment Services Coordinator Joseph Dunlap says earning the recognition of the national ProjectSEARCH program means a great deal to him. 

“It shows the hard work that everyone has done with ProjectSEARCH,” he said, referring to both the staff and students themselves. “When they get placements and get a job and it’s something they like, there’s nothing better for me.”

Despite the pandemic, the program is continuing. The 12 students in this year’s class of ProjectSEARCH begin their program on Tuesday, September 8. The 2020-2021 school year marks the fourth year of the ProjectSEARCH program.

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