Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Project Search: City of Miami Launches Landmark Program

As Mayor, I am committed to a holistic approach to reducing poverty, creating opportunity, and strengthening our community. The basis of my approach has always been education.

Since the creation of the County’s first Education Compact with Miami-Dade Public Schools, the City of Miami has continued to expand our ACCESS Miami, ELEVATE Miami, and Parks & Recreation after-school programs. Today, I’d like to tell you about how we have all partnered together to create Project SEARCH Miami, a program of which I am very proud.

Project SEARCH Miami is a unique business-led transition program designed to empower students with developmental disabilities to achieve employment and personal growth.
The program allows twelve students (ages 18-22) interested in the professional workforce to gain exposure and on the job training in marketable skills while working alongside a mentor from a volunteering City of Miami department. The year-long program is the first of its kind in the State of Florida and the second in the nation to offer this training opportunity through the public sector.

Each department has one student rotate approximately every ten weeks during a ten month period. Participants and City of Miami employees are given support through job coaching, specialized teaching, sensitivity trainings, and adaptations as needed.

This week I was very fortunate to participate in the Open House for Project SEARCH Miami, and was able to speak to the students and their families. I am proud to say that this has been meaningful and enriching to everyone involved and the students are exploring work in departments including Parks & Recreation, Communications, the Fire Department, Information Technology and several more. In addition to teaching students professional, marketable office skills, the program also helps these students achieve independent life skills by training them in the use of public transportation in order to get their job location, among many other life skills. The ultimate goal of Project SEARCH Miami is for these young adults to be able to achieve competitive employment.

Project SEARCH Miami is a united effort between the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Inc., the Florida Department of Education Vocational Rehabilitation Agency and the State of Florida Agencies for Persons with Disabilities along with other local agencies as well.

I’d especially like to thank the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council (FDDC) for awarding the City of Miami as one of five Pilot Site Designations in the State to develop the program and making this all possible.

For more information on Project SEARCH, please visit: