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Preparing Students for Entry-Level Employment

Since 2008, through a contract with the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, the National Center for Disability Education and Training (NCDET) has successfully implemented the Project SEARCH™ model. Originated at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Project SEARCH™ is a business-led, collaborative model that provides employment and education opportunities for high school seniors or post-secondary technology center students with disabilities through a combination of classroom employability skills instruction, career exploration, and on-the-job training and support.

Preparing Students for Entry-Level Employment

Project SEARCH™ is a nine-month, non-paid internship program designed to prepare students for entry-level employment. Through partnerships, the program takes place in a business setting, where total immersion in the workplace facilitates the teaching and learning process through acquisition of competitive work skills.


Each Project SEARCH™ site is a collaboration among a host business, a local school or technology center, the Department of Rehabilitation Services, a local community rehabilitation provider, and NCDET.

The model has been replicated at:

  • St. John Medical Center in Tulsa
  • Valley View Regional Hospital in Ada
  • INTEGRIS Bass Baptist Medical Center in Enid
  • Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City
  • Norman Regional Health System
  • Chesapeake Energy Company in Oklahoma City
  • INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City
  • INTEGRIS Canadian Valley Hospital in Yukon
  • INTEGRIS Southeast Medical Center
  • Embassy Suites by Hilton – Norman Hotel and Conference Center
  • Renaissance Oklahoma City – Convention Center Hotel

Award Recognition

The Project SEARCH™ model was honored with the President’s New Freedom Initiative Award from the Department of Labor. This award recognizes business and people that have demonstrated exemplary efforts in furthering employment and the workplace environment for people with disabilities. More information about this national model can be found at