Project SEARCH

The Durham Project SEARCH program is a partnership between business, education, vocational rehabilitation, and service providers.

The goal is to provide onsite internship experiences for young adults with developmental disabilities that lead to competitive employment.

How it Works

Student internships are planned to meet the needs of the business and students. The purpose is to provide an opportunity for students to develop marketable and transferable skills.
In addition to work skills, students learn life skills- such as resume building, daily living, and social skills.

Student Benefits

• Provides post-secondary training and internship experience at no cost to students.
• Creates opportunities for students to work in organizations and learn employable skills.
• Concentrates on developing a student’s strengths.
• Works towards independence in areas such as employability, transportation, and daily living skills.

Typical School Day

  • 8 to 9 am
    Employability Skills Class

  • 9 to 11:30 am
    Report to internship, rotating between three a year

  • 11:30 am to Noon
    Lunch with coworkers

  • Noon to 2 pm
    Resume internship

  • 2 to 2:30 pm
    Class debriefing and dismissal


    Students must be between the ages of 18 and 22 and in their senior year of high school. This program accepts students who attend Durham Public Schools only.


    Alliance Behavioral Health
    Ensures a vocational service provider is available to provide long-term follow-along job services as needed, and within available funding, for students obtaining employment after graduating from Project SEARCH.

    Duke Regional Hospital
    Provides internship sites to teach core skills of the business and a liaison to coordinate the program.

    Durham Public Schools
    Provides an instructor, class curriculum, and recruitment of appropriate student participants.

    North Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation
    Provides individualized career counseling and guidance for eligible participants. Vocational planning and support may include job coaching and placement.

    OE Enterprises, Inc.
    Provides job coaching, competitive placement in the community, and support for eligible individuals who secure a job.

    Project SEARCH National
    Provides guidance to ensure the local program meets fidelity


    Project SEARCH is a licensed program that began at Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center in 1996.
    It is a secondary transition training program for students with significant cognitive disabilities who have completed their academic requirements but would benefit from a workforce development program that includes employability skills and internships in local businesses.
    Students rotate through three to four non-paid internships at the host business. The Durham program started in 2011 as a community partnership at Duke Regional Hospital and continues today.

    In the News



    -Project SEARCH Brochure

    SEARCH Borchure