RISD Students Graduate with Job Skills and Independence

“I want him to be as independent as he possibly can be, without my help.” — Ericka Hale, mother of DJ Hale, trainee

“He’s my younger brother and I’m not going to be able to be there to watch out for him.”- Dallas Crotty, sister of Gaelin Crotty, trainee

“My wish for him is to be independent.” — Martha Perez, mother of Jesse Perez, trainee

RISD has partnered with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, Texas Workforce Solutions, Quest Employment and Metrocare Services to provide this life-changing opportunity. The program launched at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 1996 and is completing its first year in RISD.

Project SEARCH prepares young adults with special needs for success in integrated and competitive employment. This unique high school transition program provides job training and education, as well as the tools necessary for independent living.

In a 2018 study conducted by the United States Department of Labor, only 20% of people with disabilities are employed. Project Search is working to change these employment outcomes. “The end goal of Project SEARCH is to have 100% of our trainees employed, taking a giant step toward their independence,” said Stephanie Tallent, RISD Project SEARCH Instructor.

This hands-on training program is for students during their senior year of high school. Once a student is selected to participate in the program, they are interviewed and placed in a position that best suits their strengths and skills at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

For the largest portion of their day, trainees are immersed in departments throughout the hospital. Trainees complete three different job rotations, including labor and delivery, mission control, sterile processing and food services. The variety of exposure expands the trainees’ skill set.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas has been a tremendous support. The hospital “is a magical place where amazing staff are making a difference every day in other people’s lives,” believes James A. Berg, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas president. “It was a logical extension of our culture, which is our greatest strength.”

Project SEARCH gives Richardson ISD parents and students the peace of mind that comes through independence. “He sees the potential that he has,” believes Hale. “He is ready to go out there and tackle the world on his own.”