Eight adults with developmental disabilities are participating in an internship at Cintas Wichita to learn job skills and gain valuable work experience. Goodwill Industries of Kansas entered into the licensing agreement with Project SEARCH, an internationally trademarked and copyrighted program model, in December 2016 to further extend its mission to provide opportunities to individuals with disabilities and other employment barriers.
Project SEARCH is a business/organization-led collaboration that enables adults with disabilities to gain and maintain employment through training and career exploration during a six-month rotational internship. The goal for each participant is competitive community employment at the end of their internship. Nationally, Project SEARCH has proved successful, with more than 70% of graduates attaining employment.
Cintas Facility Services of Wichita offers products and services for businesses including uniforms and floor mats, among many other things. Cintas Wichita is serving as the host business and Goodwill Industries of Kansas is the major financial sponsor and organizer for the program. Additional partners include Wichita Area Technical College, Kansas Workforce Centers, Life Share, Sedgwick Country Developmental Disabilities Organization and KCDDO.
“Since our Goodwill facility is nearing capacity for employees with disabilities, we began to look for other opportunities to provide adults the training they need to enter employment in the community,” said Goodwill Industries’ VP of Workforce Development Curtis Tatum. “While there are already some Project SEARCH programs in our area, this program is different as it is the first to focus efforts on adults, rather than students transitioning from high school.”
The Cintas internship began on June 5 and will last about six months. Participants will participate in a variety of tasks which will focus on their abilities while learning soft-skills in a classroom setting for part of the day. Participants will graduate the program in December with the goal of finding community-based employment following the program.
“Project SEARCH is a fantastic organization that helps to develop essential work skills that lead to successful careers for the graduates. Cintas WICHITA is extremely proud and excited to partner with Goodwill Industries, the other partners and a number of volunteers to launch the first Project SEARCH adult learning program in Wichita,” said Cintas location 451 General Manager Greg Shartzer.
As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Goodwill Industries of Kansas provides opportunities for people with disabilities and barriers to employment seeking independent and productive lives. Hundreds of people with disabilities receive case management services and develop life and job skills through employment at Goodwill’s home office and in the community. Whether it be recycling donated items or preparing insulation for local aviation manufacturers, Goodwill clients and employees have found success and become more independent through work in our contracts division. More than 1,200 adults work toward their GED and other certificate programs through the NexStep Alliance, a partnership between Goodwill and Wichita Area Technical College. These programs are supported by 19 retail stores in Kansas along with an online division at shopgoodwill.com/ks. For more information about Goodwill, visit goodwillks.org.