BSC logo

News from the Hilltop

August 19, 2013

BSC partnering with Project SEARCH to improve employment outcomes for the disabled

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Beginning Aug. 19, Birmingham-Southern will help provide on-the-job training and work experience to young adults with intellectual and physical disabilities through Project SEARCH, a collaborative effort between the college, United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Birmingham, Birmingham City Schools, and Alabama Vocational Rehab.

The one-year transition program teaches participants (called interns) marketable, transferrable, and competitive workplace skills that can potentially lead to employment within the community. The interns will work Monday through Friday in multiple departments across campus practicing repetitive and systematic job skills, while learning to communicate effectively with members of the BSC community.

"Each intern has unique strengths and abilities, and we will work diligently to provide opportunities in various areas across campus to allow for continued growth and development," said Angela Harrill, associate director of human resources at Birmingham-Southern. "If they can do more than sweep the floor or wipe tables, the college will ensure they get that experience."

There will be 10 interns assigned to BSC's Project SEARCH class of 2013. The program, driven by collaboration with community partners, targets students in their last year of high school eligibility up to age 21, based on their abilities.

The interns will have a Project SEARCH teacher and job coach to support their training. They will also get continual feedback and end their day by reflection, problem-solving, and journaling what they’ve learned. A formal graduation ceremony will be held for the interns in May.

"The ultimate goal is to prepare the interns for competitive employment upon completion of the program," said Harrell. "Many new graduates often say 'I want to get a job, but I don’t have the required experience,' and it is difficult to find an employer willing to provide on-the-job training. We're thrilled to offer this service."

Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, Project SEARCH was formed in 1996 by Nurse J. Erin Riehle, then the director of the Emergency Department at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. This is their first step in the development of a pilot program to provide "on-campus classrooms." Birmingham-Southern is the first college/university in Alabama to partner with them in this effort.


About Birmingham-Southern College:

Birmingham-Southern College is a four-year, private liberal arts institution in Birmingham, Ala., founded in 1856 and affiliated with the United Methodist Church. It enrolls about 1,200 students from more than 30 states and 16 foreign countries. Learn more online at www.bsc.edu.