Project Search

Research, Program Developments, and Public Recognition

Project SEARCH is a dynamic, evidence-based  program. Visit this page frequently to learn about new research on the program model and related topics, thought-provoking presentations and discussions, and innovations that facilitate achieving our goal of 100% employment.


Project SEARCH Founder, Erin Riehle, Presents AAIDD Webinar

Erin Riehle RN, MSN, NEA-BC is the Senior Director of Disability Services and Project SEARCH at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. In this webinar, presented in partnership with the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, she describes the Project SEARCH model of employment preparation and transition, which  has received national recognition for practices started under Erin’s leadership. .

Wisconsin Governor Proclaims June 6, 2017 "Project SEARCH Day."

Wisconsin is becoming a national leader in employment for people with disabilities. The University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability reports that between 2010 and 2015, the state moved from 16th in the nation to 10th in the share of working-aged people with jobs. In Wisconsin, 41% of people with disabilities are employed, compared to 35% nationally. One facet of this achievement is a ramping up of Project SEARCH in the state. In fact, this year Governor Scott Walker celebrated this program expansion with a designated Project SEARCH Day.

President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities Cites Project SEARCH in Final Report

The Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities released their final report to the U.S. Department of Labor on September 16, 2016. The report mentions Project SEACH, which is noted as an effective work-preparation program and a successful example of systems integration and seamless transition.  

Project SEARCH Founder Addresses 2015 Alaska SHRM Conference.

Project SEARCH Co-founder and Director, Erin Riehle, RN, MSN, gave a keynote address at the Society for Human Resource Management Conference on September 25, 2015 in Anchorage, AK. The talk was titled, “Achieving Meaningful Employment for Young Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Transition and Training the Project SEARCH Way.”  

Webcasts on Project SEARCH High School Transition.

Susie Rutkowski, MEd, Project SEARCH Co-Founder and Educational Specialist, recorded three webcasts offered through WorkSupport at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

  • Teamwork and Collaboration  (45-minute presentation followed by chat room with Susie Rutkowski)
  • Choosing your Interns (45-minute presentation followed by chat room with Susie Rutkowski)
  • Internships: The Rubber Meets the Road in the Internship Process (45-minute presentation followed by chat room with Susie Rutkowski)

Susie Rutkowski, MEd is a nationally recognized transition expert with specific experience in program development in career technical education and job development for young adults with disabilities.  Through a grant from the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, Project SEARCH researched over 40 of their program sites that reached 90%–100% employment outcomes.  Project SEARCH gathered a vast amount of information, which could be summarized under five categories:   Teamwork and Collaboration, Intern Selection and Quality Internship Development, Staff Structure and Professional Development, Curriculum and Instruction, and the Job Search Process.  Watch the 3 webcasts to learn more about what Project SEARCH programs do to achieve 100% employment for their interns!    

Project SEARCH Included in Newsletter.

The January edition of the Disability Connection newsletter, “10 Things You Want to Know about Federal Government Employment” recommends Project SEARCHThe newsletter is sent to more 75,000 subscribers each month and promoted on the site’s social media platform to more than 109,000 followers. is a resource for people with disabilities, their families, friends and organizations that serve them. The site connects users to important information about disability benefits, health care, employment and more.  

AIDD Support for Project SEARCH in New York Statewide Initiative.

The Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD), a division of the ACL, funds eight Partnerships in Employment Systems Change Projects of National Significance. Project SEARCH is one of many programs supported in part by this funding. 

Project SEARCH Co-founder, Erin Riehle, Appeared on the PBS Live National Broadcast, American Graduate Day 2014.

American Graduate Day returned for its third year on September 27, 2014. This live national, multi-platform broadcast event focused on the individuals and organizations working in communities across the country to keep students on the path to graduation. Erin Riehle discussed employment preparation for young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Journal Article Reflects on European Expansion of Project SEARCH.

This manuscript describes the challenges, successes, and lessons learned in the process of adapting the Project SEARCH program model, which was developed in the U.S., to the European disability resource system..

Project SEARCH Founder Offers Tips on Preparing Kids with Disabilities for Employment.

Project SEARCH Founder and Director, Erin Riehle, contributed an article to Expert Beacon describing some key things that parents of children with disabilities should do to increase the likelihood of employment success in adulthood. This article should be of interest to parents, relatives, caregivers, teachers, and anyone who interacts with young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

VCU Study Shows that Project SEARCH Results in Competitive Employment for Youth with Autism.

A Virginia Commonwealth University study of Project SEARCH sites shows that intensive job training benefits youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders, one of the most challenging disabilities in the world where only 20 percent find employment. Published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, the study demonstrates that the nine months of intensive internship training, in conjunction with an engaged hospital, can lead to high levels of competitive employment in areas such as cardiac care, wellness, ambulatory surgery and pediatric intensive care units.


"This is the first study of its kind to demonstrate the skills and abilities youth with ASD have and the success they can experience at work," said Paul H. Wehman, Ph.D., principal investigator of the study and Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Director of the VCU Autism Center at the VCU School of Education. Previous research in this area showed that youth with ASD were employed at lower rates than even their peers with other disabilities.Traditionally, youth with autism between the ages of 18 and 22 remain unemployed after leaving school at rates of over 80 percent. But VCU researchers reported that those who completed a program called “Project SEARCH with Autism Supports” achieved employment at 87 percent. This study also showed that youth with ASD required less intense support as they became more competent at their work task.

VR Selects Project SEARCH as an Effective Program for People with ASD.


The VR Autism National Advisory Panel identifies effective employment programs for people with autism spectrum disorders throughout the United States. Project SEARCH was selected as an Effective Program in 2011.

NDSS Sponsors Webinar on Project SEARCH


Each month, the National Down Syndrome Society provides a free educational web-based seminar, or webinar, to anyone who is interested in learning more about Down syndrome and related topics, such as health, education, research and family life.

On November 29, 2012, Maryellen Daston, Ph.D. and Susie Rukowski, MEd. presented, "Achieving Meaningul Employment for Youth with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: High School Transition the Project SEARCH Way."


NIDRR Funds Research on Project SEARCH at VCU


The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research has awarded a five-year, two and a half million dollar grant to Virginia Commonwealth University and its partners to help expand research on the Project SEARCH model as it pertains to achieving meaningful employment for young people with autism.

To learn more, listen to this interview with lead investigator, Dr. Paul Wehman, VCU Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabiliation.