GCDD HONORED WITH GRANT FROM CONGRESS TO EXPAND PROJECT SEARCH INITIATIVE
March 22, 2023 (Atlanta, Georgia) – The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) has been awarded a $1.2 million grant from Congress to expand Project SEARCH in Georgia. This funding will increase employment opportunities for Georgians with disabilities by allowing Project SEARCH to open additional sites across the state and expand existing sites to serve even more individuals with disabilities. The work of Project SEARCH is greatly needed, as nationwide, only about 15% of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are employed.
Project SEARCH is a business-led, one-year work-preparation program for young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Most participants are enrolled while transitioning from high school to the workforce. Traditional Project SEARCH sites enroll participants who are eligible to receive services and funding from their local school systems. Adult sites enroll young adults (typically ages 21-35) who have completed high school but need additional job training. Without school resources, it can be difficult to fund Project SEARCH sites, and these adults are often unable to participate. This new grant will be instrumental in expanding access to Project SEARCH for these adult participants.
For all participants, “the goal of Project SEARCH is competitive employment in an integrated setting,” says Bonnie Seery, Georgia’s Statewide Project Search Coordinator. Competitive, integrated employment is rare for individuals with developmental disabilities without proper support. Project SEARCH’s innovative education and training model provides them with the tools and skills necessary for long-term success in the workplace.
Project SEARCH was developed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, which is still the administrative headquarters for the organization. The hallmark of Project SEARCH is total workplace immersion, which facilitates a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and hands-on training. Partnerships with host business sites make this immersion possible.
Total Systems (TSYS), a credit card company headquartered in Columbus, GA, has hosted a highly successful Project SEARCH site since 2016. They find that Project SEARCH has positive impacts reaching far beyond the lives of the interns. Pino Wells Davis, Total System’s host business site liaison, says, “Since 2016, I’ve witnessed tremendous growth in our interns over each nine-month program year. During the program they establish a solid foundation to build upon by learning competitive and marketable job skills as well as life skills. Although TSYS is the host site, Project SEARCH belongs to and benefits our community. Not every business can be a host site, but every business can hire a graduate. If you’re looking for a great candidate, find a Project SEARCH graduate…because Everyone Can Work!” Total Systems can consistently say that 100% of their graduates are employed.
Nationwide, 63% of Project Search graduates are employed in competitive, integrated settings where they work in non-seasonal positions for 16 hours per week or more. This is nearly equal to the employment rate for people without disabilities, and proof of Project SEARCH’s tremendous impact. Bonnie Seery says, “Project SEARCH changes lives, changes families, changes communities and changes businesses through employment!"
GCDD’s grant will fund sites during the 2023-2024 school year. School systems, community rehabilitation providers, service providers, relevant non-profits, and existing Project SEARCH sites in Georgia are encouraged to contact Bonnie Seery at for more information on expanding or starting a Project SEARCH site and participating in this exciting project. For more information about Project SEARCH, visit www.projectsearch.us.
About the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities: The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) is the State's leader in advancing public policy for persons with developmental disabilities. Its mission is to bring about social and policy changes that promote opportunities for the wide spectrum of diverse people/persons with developmental disabilities and their families to live, learn, work, play, and worship in their communities. www.gcdd.org
MEDIA CONTACT: Tianna Faulkner
GCDD Media Relations Director