In March 2022, the City of River Falls became the first local government in Wisconsin to host a Project SEARCH intern when it welcomed Ben Warren to its staff. Project SEARCH, developed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 1996, is a program that provides young adults with disabilities training and career exploration to help them gain competitive employment. Participating students have the opportunity to complete a workforce alternative for their last year of high school, completing rotations at three local workplaces.
The School District of River Falls is an education partner with Project SEARCH, facilitating work placements and instruction for qualifying students in the River Falls area. Before partnering with the City, the School District worked with River Falls Area Hospital as its only placement site. However, when Natasha Herum, Project SEARCH Instructor for the School District of River Falls, reached out to Mayor Dan Toland in spring 2021 to ask if he would serve as a commencement speaker at the program's graduation ceremony, Mayor Toland saw an opportunity.
To learn more about how the City and School District partnered in Project SEARCH, read the article here.