ProjectSEARCH student Ruth S., class of 2020, manages inventory during her internship at Winchester Medical Center.

Building Brighter Futures

NW Works is proud to participate in ProjectSEARCH, a collaborative program run in partnership with Valley Health, Winchester Public Schools, Frederick County Public Schools, the Northwestern Community Services Board, and the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services. This globally recognized program, which originated in Cincinnati, OH, at a local Children’s Hospital, was initially designed to provide a solution to turn-over issues in the emergency room department. As the program began to develop, the focus shifted to creating training opportunities for high school students with disabilities as they prepare to graduate. This highly successful program expanded from Ohio across the country and to other countries as well. The Winchester, VA site is one of nearly 20 in the Commonwealth.

Through this collaboration, students who have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and have received their applied studies diploma are eligible to apply for the competitive program. Selected students participate in three different internships, each lasting nine weeks. Graduates of the ProjectSEARCH program gain important job skills and often attain employment prior to or immediately following completion of the program. Individuals are tracked for the year after graduation to ensure they have the support and skills in place to land and maintain their job placements.

We are proud to report that the Winchester-Frederick County program has had a high success rate for job placements post-graduation. The class of 2021 had a very successful year, with 100 percent of students having a job offer by graduation. Over the past five years, 52 students have completed the program, with a success rate of 86.5 percent.

Interested in learning if ProjectSEARCH is right for you or someone you know? Contact your school transition specialist to learn more about ProjectSEARCH.

Our short video filmed in early 2020 (pre-masks!) highlights ProjectSEARCH.

What we’ve seen through ProjectSEARCH is that when people give these young people a chance, the rewards are many times over.”

Skip Philips | Former Senior Vice President, Valley Health System Acute Care Hospitals

Where ProjectSEARCH Students Work

  • Nutrition Department
  • Gift Shop
  • Emergency Department
  • Catheterization Laboratory
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
  • Pharmacy
  • Kids Zone
  • and more!