About Us

Project SEARCH is based at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The administrative team oversees a large international network of Project SEARCH programme sites. We maintain an active, ongoing programme of technical assistance, programme evaluation, programme development, and continuous improvement.

Who We Are

Project SEARCH was developed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, a research environment that fosters visionary thinking and innovation. It all began in 1996, when Erin Riehle was Director of Cincinnati Children’s Emergency Department. Erin felt that, because many patients had learning disabilities, it made sense that they should commit to recruiting people from this group. She wondered if it would be possible to train people with dlearning disabilities to fill some of the high- turnover, entry-level posts in her department, which involved complex and systematic tasks such as stocking supply cabinets. As a starting point, Erin presented her ideas to Susie Rutkowski, then the special education director at Great Oaks, a vocational training college. Erin and Susie formed a partnership that was instantaneous, and together they launched Project SEARCH.

Since its inception, Project SEARCH has grown from a single programme site at Cincinnati Children’s to a large and continuously expanding international network of sites. Project SEARCH’s primary objective is to secure competitive employment for people with disabilities.

The DFN Charitable Foundation, is a UK registered charity established in 2014 by David Forbes Nixon with the express aim of promoting programmes which significantly improve the employment prospects of young people with learning disabilities and autism spectrum conditions. Having been assigned the franchise rights for all DFN Project SEARCH licenses and materials here in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain and Portugal we intend to reach out and help many more young people to access this very successful programme. With goodwill and support from local partners we will more than double the current number of Project SEARCH programmes within three years. Together we will create a major talent pool for employers by ensuring that skilled and talented individuals with SEND, wherever they live, get the opportunity to aspire and train for the jobs of their dreams.

Check out these videos for a more in-depth look at the Project SEARCH model: