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Project SEARCH Smithsonian

What is Project SEARCH Smithsonian?


In September of 2013, The Smithsonian Institution, SEEC, and Ivymount School launched a replication of Project SEARCH for young adults who have developmental disabilities. Additional partners include the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration, DC’s Rehabilitation Services Administration, and the Maryland Department of Rehabilitation Services.

Project SEARCH interns are immersed in the Smithsonian Institution workplace, receiving daily classroom instruction and rotating among three distinct internships in positions that are meaningful to the mission of the department to which they are assigned and are based on each jobseeker’s strengths and interests.

As a result of the first year of the program, 7 out of 11 graduating 2013-2014 interns are now paid Smithsonian employees, working a minimum of 20 hours per week and earning competitive wages and benefits.

Examples of internships and task performed include:

  1. Building Service Worker for the National Portrait Gallery (NPG), Ripley Center, National Museum of American History (NMAH), and the National Zoo (NZP): providing custodial maintenance in restrooms, exhibit galleries, and offices, and operating large, motorized, heavy machinery.
  2. Museum Technician Support for the National Museum of Natural History (NMHH) and Museum Support Center (MSC): identifying and numbering bone specimens, conducting pest inspections of specimens, installing specimens in collections storage, and preparing them for preservation.
  3. Classroom Assistant, Early Education Center, NMNH and NMAH: organizing photos completing classroom inventory, and assisting teachers with activities.
  4. Office of Facilities Management and Reliability, Crafts Department: organizing the shop, conducting fire door inspections and making quick fixes, and cleaning tools and equipment.
  5. Office of Protection Services (OPS): shipping/delivery, digitizing and filing documents, and inventory management.
  6. National Portrait Gallery (NPG): Exhibition maintenance and office assistance, restocking visitor take aways, and maintaining exhibit areas.
  7. NMNH Botany: digitizing pollen specimen media files, document management.

Smithsonian supervisors involved in the program are supported by SEEC’s workforce development staff and job coaches. Classroom instruction is provided by Ivymount School.

Read the Project SEARCH NIH Inter Quarterly Newsletter

Click here to download the newsletter in PDF format.


For more information contact:

Beth Ziebarth, Director of Accessibility, Smithsonian Institution at Ziebarth@si.edu

Steve Blanks, SEEC’s Director of Workforce Development at sblanks@seeconline.org

Lu Merrick, Director of Post High School, Ivymount School at lmerrick@ivymount.org

Erin Chapman, Business Liaison, Smithsonian Institution at champaneh@si.edu

Fallon Keplinger, Instructor, Ivymount School at fkeplinger@ivymount.org