Project SEARCH

Project SEARCH is a school-to-work transition program for young adults with significant intellectual and developmental disabilities. Project SEARCH started at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 1996 and has since grown to over 500 Project SEARCH sites nationally and internationally.

The students participating in Project SEARCH are fully immersed at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital on the Anschutz Medical Campus (host business) to learn job skills with the goal of securing competitive employment.

Since starting the program in 2017, UCHealth has worked with and supported dozens of young adults who have successfully attended and graduated from the program. According the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the employment rate for those with a disability was 19.3% in 2019 which is a stark contrast to the 66.3% for those without a disability. Operating a successful Project SEARCH requires an employment rate of 75% or above. UCHealth consistently places young adults in successful long-term jobs at a rate of 90% or greater since starting in 2017.

Project SEARCH at UCHealth takes a holistic approach to the young adults in our program; highlighting strengths, identifying interests, fleshing out barriers and challenges, all while working to find competitive employment that best matches what is going to work best for the young adult and their families. UCHealth’s leadership and staff acknowledge the exceptional contribution these young adults make in over 70 units across University of Colorado Hospital and has brought a new dimension to our mission of Improving Lives.

To be eligible to apply to Project SEARCH, students must meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Completed graduation requirements but deferred diploma or are willing to defer diploma
  • Currently enrolled in a local high school special education program or transition program
  • Have a strong desire to work
  • Willing to apply for services with the Division of Vocation Rehabilitation (DVR) as well as enroll in services with the preferred Community Center Board (CCB)
  • Open to travel training to gain skills to travel to the program independently via public transportation, Access-a-Ride, carpooling, etc.

Guidelines: Project SEARCH at Anschutz Medical Campus

1. Project SEARCH applications are accepted from October to February. Please send an email to Stephanie Crookston at stephanie.crookston@uchealth.org to request that an application be sent to you.

2. All students selected to advance by the Selection Committee must participate in the Skills Assessment Day and interview phase to be ultimately considered for a spot in the Project SEARCH at Anschutz Medical Campus program. All students asked to advance to the Skills Assessment Day and interview phase will be instructed on the day a time to be present for the Skills Assessment Day and interview by the Project SEARCH Program Managers. A family member or guardian must attend this session with the student.

3. Students who are deemed most eligible to be successful in a 1-year employment program will be selected for Project SEARCH at the Anschutz Medical Campus. Applicants may be denied entrance to the program, or be asked to re-apply for the subsequent program year. Due to the number of applicants, Project SEARCH at Anschutz Medical Campus cannot honor site preference (Children’s Hospital Colorado/University of Colorado Hospital). Site placement will depend on a variety of factors, including: geographic location, employment goals and interests, transportation considerations, site department needs, and personality characteristics.

4. Project SEARCH on the Anschutz Medical Campus is made possible by a partnership between Jefferson County Public Schools (Jeffco) and Children’s Hospital Colorado/University of Colorado Hospital. This partnership allows Project SEARCH to accept all Denver Metro school district students for this program. Once accepted to Project SEARCH, all participants must be choice enrolled into Jeffco Public Schools, regardless of which district is considered their “home” district. If you have questions about this, please contact Stephanie Crookston (see contact information below).

5. Project SEARCH maintains that a student’s post-school goals as identified on the IEP are appropriately and rigorously addressed through participation in the program and eligibility for public education is no longer necessary at the end of the school year. A graduation ceremony will take place at the end of the Project SEARCH program year at your student’s assigned program site (Children’s Hospital Colorado or University of Colorado Hospital), at which they will receive their diploma from the home school district.

6. In addition to our partnership with Jefferson County Public Schools, Project SEARCH is made possible by the contributions of several other key agencies. As a participant in Project SEARCH, your student may require application to receive services and support from the following agencies to participate in Project SEARCH.

  • Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Jefferson County Business and Workforce Center
  • Via Mobility
  • ARC – Jefferson County and Denver Metro ARC locations
  • Denver Metro Community Centered Boards (CCBs)

Contact us

Questions or issues? Send email communications to Stephanie Crookston at stephanie.crookston@uchealth.org