Project SEARCH Program Graduates 8th Class of Job-Ready Students With Disabilities


Lakeland, FL – This year’s Project SEARCH class will be graduating at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, April 26, 2024, at the Mulaney Family Auditorium, part of Lakeland Regional Health located at 1324 Lakeland Hills Blvd Lakeland, FL 33805. 

Over the past year, the class of students from Polk County Public Schools has intensively worked with their teachers, job coaches, and mentors on developing marketable and transferable job skills.

The Project SEARCH program at Lakeland Regional Health works with students with disabilities, ages 18 to 22, to help prepare them for highly skilled, complex jobs in a variety of industries. 100% of this year’s Project SEARCH participants have already secured employment and are looking forward to starting their jobs after graduation.

Project SEARCH provides support and training that continues after graduation. Students continue to receive job coaching and support from the Center for Independent Living and Vocational Rehabilitation trainers while working and earning income. Additionally, any students not hired by graduation continue to receive job placement assistance and other support services leading to paid employment.

According to a 2024 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2023 the unemployment rate for persons with a disability was about twice as high at 7.2% as the rate for persons without a disability, at 3.5%. Project SEARCH offers students with disabilities a way to close the gap through on-the-job skills training in complex, in-demand jobs; increasing their ability to find and maintain successful competitive employment. This collaboration between Lakeland Regional Health, Polk County Public Schools, the Center for Independent Living in Central Florida, Inc., Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council provides an evidence-based program for transitioning students with disabilities from school to work.

Project SEARCH at Lakeland Regional Health shapes a brighter future for participants with disabilities while inspiring other businesses to get involved in this successful model, boasting a higher placement rate than the national average for Project SEARCH programs.

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