In April 2012, Shaw initiated its first Project SEARCH internship program, a work skills developmental program for young adults with disabilities. The four Shaw participants — Jordon Freeman, Eric Abernathy, Ashley Tankersley, and Angelica Summey — will complete on-the-job training to gain competitive skills needed for employment.

Created in 1996 at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Project SEARCH has partnered with businesses in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Europe, and Scotland. Project SEARCH and its business partners work to facilitate high school transition programs for individuals with various developmental disabilities, such as visual and hearing impairments, autism, and intellectual disabilities.

Over the past year, Shaw has collaborated with Cross Plains Community Partner, Project SEARCH, Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities to develop a version of this program for young adults with learning disabilities who have earned their high school diploma or GED.

This pilot program with Shaw is a Project SEARCH precedent, as Shaw will be the first business partner to implement an adult transition program. As a trailblazer for this project model, Shaw is excited to be working with the participants, who will complete three 10-week rotations on Shaw’s corporate campus in the following departments:

  • Customer Service Inventory Logistics
  • IT Document Services (Mail/Print Services)
  • Corporate Facilities Recycling
  • Carpet Values
  • Marketing Fulfillment

Participants will experience total workplace immersion, facilitating a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and relevant job-skills training. Shaw departmental leadership and Cross Plains Community Partner Job Coaches will focus on delivering key skills in the areas of: team building, technology, social skills/communication, presentation delivery, money management, interviewing and resume building, job searching and retention, self-advocacy, and determination.

Participants will complete the program with a greater ability to gain employment. Along with the support of the program staff, Project SEARCH participants are better prepared to begin their job search, and they are frequently offered positions at work location sites where they interned.

The participants benefit significantly from their partnership with Project SEARCH and Shaw, according to the company. The program facilitates opportunities for young adults to further their success, supporting the development of the growing talent pipeline of people with disabilities; and extending Shaw’s philanthropic reach by assisting with transferrable, marketable, and competitive skills to these individuals.