Project SEARCH


PeaceHealth has launched  ProjectSEARCH, a nationally acclaimed employment program for students with autism and related disabilities, and in this case individuals from Pearl Buck Center‘s production facility. This new initiative, which brings together the community, parents, and local business leaders, began in September 2016 and is one of the ways that Pearl Buck Center is answering the governor’s mandate to close sheltered workshops by 2019.

For those unfamiliar with Project SEARCH, it began 18 years ago at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and has grown to over 400 locations worldwide. Through the program, people with developmental and intellectual disabilities will take part in a nine-12 month unpaid internship program. Project SEARCH is based entirely at a host location, such as a hospital, government agency or corporation. With full immersion in the job preparation process, interns gain extensive exposure to and experience in a work environment to ready them for competitive employment.


The program consists of a classroom component and hands-on training. Interns meet Monday through Friday for an hour in the morning and 1/2 hour in the afternoon for classroom instruction. The instructor delivers lessons on topics ranging from Team Building, Workplace safety, Technology, Self-Advocacy, Health & Wellness, Financial Literacy, to Preparing for Employment and Maintaining Employment. The interns then go to various departments in their host business and learn real life transferable job skills. At the end of the day, the interns return to the classroom to debrief and prepare for the next day. The goals of the program are to foster independence and place the interns in paying jobs within the community.


During the program, the interns learn the importance of being responsible and independent by learning how to take public transportation to work and working in an integrated setting. The interns will work together with the instructor and skills trainers on social and communication skills that are critical for a workplace through real like examples and role play as well as preparing for interviewing and keeping a job.

The ProjectSEARCH staff will match intern interests with internship opportunities and monitor intern comfort levels in the workplace and provide supports as needed.

The PeaceHealth ProjectSEARCH program will span September to May, after which Pearl Buck Center job developers will work on placing the interns into community jobs. The admissions process for the next program will begin in April 2017.

This program is especially unique because it creates a systematic bridge between students and in this case the employees of Pearl Buck Center’s production facility, adult service agencies, and community employment. Pearl Buck Center is honored to be the second sheltered workshop in the nation to launch ProjectSEARCH last year (2016). Pearl Buck Center (PBC) and PeaceHealth SarcredHeart Medical Center (PHSHMC) will be working with the Department of Human Services (DHS), Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation Services (OVRS),  Mentors of Oregon Brokerage (MOB) and Full Access Brokerage (FAB) using the Project SEARCH model to train 10 interns in this first year . For this first program, nine of the interns are from the Pearl Buck Center facility and the tenth intern is a referral from OVRS.

The admissions process, like all aspects of Project SEARCH, follows the criteria and protocol developed by the organization. Because Project SEARCH is a “braided” service model, the admissions committee includes representatives from OVRS and DHS as well as PeaceHealth and Pearl Buck Center staff.

To qualify for participation in the program an individual will need to meet a set of guidelines. The following should be considered; Willing to work and learn on the job, willing to work towards independence including living, transportation and gaining competitive employment. Commit to a 9-month unpaid internship with the intent to participate fully in the program. A person interested will need to be in their final year of school eligibility, or transitioning out of vocational programs, have a verified disability, be 18 years of age or older and have a funding source. The person should also be current on their immunizations and able to provide proof, be able to pass a drug screening and background check, be willing to undergo a 2 tiered TB test and receive the flu shot.

Those interested in more information should talk to their teachers, case managers, vocational rehabilitation counselors, and family to make sure this is a good fit for them. Next, attend an open House and ask questions, complete the application in its entirety by the deadline, and wait to hear if you will be asked to participate in the interview process with the ProjectSEARCH Committee.

We will be holding an Information Night, Wednesday, March 8, 2017, 6:00 pm- 7:30 pm at Pearl Buck Center – 3690 W. 1st Avenue, Eugene. 

To learn more or obtain an application, please contact Holly Powell – Program Director

(541) 484.4666 ext. 5115 or

Click here to learn more about  Project SEARCH

Click here to read Pearl Buck Center’s ProjectlSEARCH brochure ps-brochure


Interested in applying? Fill out an application to begin the process. Please read the application carefully and follow the directions in order to be considered. (HINT:  Ask for assistance if you are not sure and treat the application as if you are applying for a paying job)



Fillable pdf. – ps-candidate-application

Fillable pdf.- ps-assessment-consent-forms

E-mail completed applications to or mail your paper copy to:   Pearl Buck Community Services, 115 W. 8th Avenue, Suite 280, Eugene, OR 97401


Watch where it all started at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.