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Bryan Students with Disabilities Receive Help Securing Jobs

Bryan ISD will hold a parent meeting 6 p.m. Thursday at the Hilton College Station Brazos Room for parents of graduating seniors with intellectual and developmental disabilities interested in participating in a one-year work-preparation program starting in August called Project SEARCH

To be eligible for Project SEARCH, students must turn 18 by the time the program starts next school year. The program will be implemented with the help of several community partners, including the Hilton College Station and Conference Center, the Brazos Valley Center for Independent Living, MHMR Authority of Brazos Valley and Texas Workforce Solutions. Additionally, Bryan ISD secured a $16 thousand grant to implement the program from Texas Tech and the Texas Council for Developmental Disablities.

Project SEARCH’s goal is to secure competitive employment for every program participant, a feat the organization said it accomplishes around 75 percent of the time. Its strategy lies in “total workplace immersion,” through a combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and hands-on training.

The Project SEARCH program began in 1996 at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center by an employee who was frustrated with finding employees for entry-level jobs involving restocking supplies. It has grown to an organization with 430 programs across 45 states and eight countries.

According to Project SEARCH, people with disabilities represent one of the fastest-growing market segments in the U.S. Participants in their program participate in three internships designed to explore a variety of career paths, including business, healthcare and government settings. While interning, participants learn marketable job skills with the support of a team that includes their family, an instructor and local and state agencies.

Members of Project SEARCH met recently with Brynn Biggs, Bryan ISD transition specialist, to coordinate implementation of the program in the district. Biggs said she couldn’t have been happier with the feedback she received.

“They were extremely impressed at how well all of the cooperating partners were already familiar with each other and connected in various ways,” Biggs said.

The partnership is a joint effort from local organizations that believe in the value of the program. The bond between partners has already produced results in the feedback Biggs received from Project SEARCH.

“They feel we have the potential to be one of the strongest programs in Texas because of our partnership,” Biggs said.

For more information about Project SEARCH, contact Brynn Biggs at 979-209-3738 or brynn.biggs@bryanisd.org.