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 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 are in their final year of school are eligible to participate in three different internships, each lasting nine weeks. Graduates of the Project Search program gain important job skills and often attain employment prior to or immediately following completion of the program. Students 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. During the program’s first year of operation, 83 percent of students successfully joined the workforce. Rates went up for the second year, with all students in the graduating class finding work within a year of graduation. Despite the pandemic, the class of 2020 has been successful as well: five of the eight graduates started a job since graduating, while two others are still seeking employment. One student has chosen to wait until the pandemic ends to start searching.

Interested in learning if ProjectSEARCH is right for you or someone you know? Contact us and we can help you get on the path to 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 | 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!

Contact us today to learn if ProjectSEARCH is right for you!