Project SEARCH

Project SEARCH is a national one-year, high school transition program for students with disabilities between the ages of 18-21 that provides training and education with the goal of obtaining competitive employment.  The program was developed at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital in 1994. 

Project SEARCH was launched locally at the City of Rochester in September 2010 in collaboration with the Strong Center for Developmental , the Arc of Monroe County, the Rochester City School District, and the City of Rochester.   Key aspects include: 

  • Students attend class on-site at the host business to learn employability skills.
  • Students participate in three 10-week internships focusing on acquiring discreet job skills.
  • Students are supported by a classroom teacher, paraprofessional, and job coach.  This staffing is fully funded by the host school district (Rochester City School District) and partner vocational rehabilitation agency (Arc of Monroe County)
  • There is no cost to the host business to participate in Project SEARCH other than the supply of on-site resources (e.g. classroom, access to phone and copier).

Project SEARCH News

In October 2013, the Rochester City School District (RCSD) received the 2013 Works for Me award from OPWDD (Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities) in the category of youth transition.  Representatives from Arc of Monroe, and Project SEARCH graduate Ashley Pigler were on hand in Albany to receive the award.  While RCSD's Work Experience Program (WEP) program was the named award recipient, it was Project SEARCH at the City of Rochester (a parternship of the City of Rochester, RCSD WEP, Arc of Monroe, ACCES-VR and OPWDD) that was the impetus for the award as well as the highlight of the award video.

Congrats to the Project SEARCH City of Rochester team!


People with disabilities have the right to choose a path toward education and employment.  However, while freedom of choice is given, the right to work is earned.  Earning the right to work is dependent upon the student’s preparation.

Program Goals 

  • Provide employability skills training to students with significant disabilities through on-site emersion in a business.
  • Provide supports to the business to encourage the hiring of individuals with disabilities. 

City as the Project SEARCH Business Partner

The City is responsible for providing:

  • a minimum of 12 internship assignments
  • classroom and work space for students and staff
  • Orientation of Project SEARCH staff to City Hall, and City staff to the project
  • Participation in ongoing program evaluation

 Project SEARCH Working Committee 



Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities               Arc of Monroe
Susan Hetherington  Tammy Reynolds 
Kaitlyn Richardson Mike Jarquin 
Rochester City School District City of Rochester
Colleen Brind'Amour  Rose Nichols 
Vanessa Peterson  

For more information, please contact Carla Johnson, Diversity Equity & Inclusion Manager at (585) 428-6821 or

You may also contact Colleen Brind'Amour for enrollment into Project Search

Colleen Brind'Amour, Rochester City School District
Special Education, CTE & Transition Instructor
Phone: 585-301-3534




Education | Jobs