Western New York Project SEARCH Collaborative is a business-led partnership which offers a school-to-work program alternative for students with disabilities who are in their last year of high school. The program is provided by Beechwood Continuing Care in conjunction with Erie 1 BOCES, Aspire of WNY and Summit Educational Resources.
At its beautiful, Amherst location, Beechwood Continuing Care provides a classroom for the participating interns along with employees who serve as professional mentors. The team consists of a teacher, teacher aides and job coach to meet the educational and training needs of the interns. Job placement is the goal of Project SEARCH and the team assists each intern in defining career goals.
By combining real-life work experience, with training in employment and independent living skills, the goal is for each intern to obtain competitive, integrated employment. Upon successful completion of the program, interns may be offered employment at Beechwood in a job that aligns with the skills they’ve learned.
A series of job rotations lasting up to ten weeks allows students to seek positions that best suit their interests and skills. They receive support with accommodations, adaptations and on-the-job coaching.
Project SEARCH operates Monday – Friday, from 8:15 a.m. – 2:45 p.m., from September – June.
On a typical day:
- Interns attend employability skills classes at Beechwood. Lessons are based on daily living skills such as finances, nutrition, and resume writing.
- Interns participate in non-paid job rotations (10-12 weeks each) throughout Beechwood including: gift shop, working directly with Beechwood residents, clerical/office work, food preparation, laundry service, inventory support, and maintenance.
- Mobility (transportation) training may be provided as part of the program.
- Both Aspire and Summit provide job coaches with a specialization in job development and placement. These job coaches work with the interns until the assigned tasks can be performed independently. The time and instruction is individualized.
- Students ages 18-21 who are eligible for ACESS-VR and/or OPWDD services
- Completion of all academic requirements for high school graduation
- Basic communication skills
- Appropriate social, grooming, and hygiene skills
- Independent toileting and feeding skills
- Passed drug screening and background checks
Placement in Project SEARCH is determined by your local school district’s Committee on Special Education. Upon successful completion of the program, a student will earn the Skills & Achievement Commencement Credential.
For an application and enrollment information, please contact:
John Pope, Erie 1 BOCES
For general information contact:
Diane G. Avecillas, Project SEARCH Coordinator
Parents or students seeking additional information should contact their local school district.
What people say about Project SEARCH at Beechwood:
“This has been an awesome experience and I feel proud. I look forward to getting a good job in the future.” – Project SEARCH intern
“Project SEARCH has given my son the opportunity to use the skills he has and learn new ones. His self-esteem has improved and he seems more confident.” – Parent of Project SEARCH intern
“The fact that Project SEARCH students and Beechwood staff are so comfortable working together validates why we are partners. You hear that business and education don’t mix? Guess what! They mix here at Beechwood.” – Kathy Simme, HR Director, Beechwood Continuing Care
*Project SEARCH is an international program started in 1996 in Cincinnati that operates more than 150 program sites in 42 states and four countries. The program is approved by the New York State Education Department and focuses on transitional education and takes place entirely at the workplace. The person-centered philosophy of Project SEARCH helps students build skills that will lead to a career and allow them to graduate with a work certificate.