Natasha Herum described Project SEARCH, a nationwide program conducted here by the River Falls School District and River Falls Area Hospital. It is a business-led transition to work program covering a full school year and leading to employment.
In the state of Wisconsin, there are 29 programs, 643 nationwide. The team supporting program participants includes family, skills trainers, job developers, Wisconsin  DVR (Division of Vocational Rehabilitation), and long-term support agencies.
There are many positions, mainly entry level, that people with disabilities could potentially occupy if they are given the proper training and job exposure. The goal is competitive employment, which has four components: integrated work setting (not a sheltered workshop), year-round (not seasonal), at least 16 hours/week, and payment of a prevailing wage (at or above minimum wage). For many participants there is a necessary balance between the amount of work, and therefore wages, and the important Social Security benefits related to their disabilities.
The local effort is small by Project SEARCH standards, currently serving eight individuals aged 18-30 from River Falls and surrounding communities. The focus is transferable job skills, meaning that long-term employment extends beyond RFAH. With transportation from home to work as a very common issue, the River Falls subsidized taxi service is a major assistance to the individuals who live within River Falls.
Skills taught include communication, responsibility, time management, and specific job skills. Businesses benefit from performance and retention in high-turnover, entry-level jobs. Interns and graduate employees with disabilities can serve as role models for customers and others. Tools employed include frequent business tours, mock interviews, reverse job fairs, and life skills training.