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Project Search In Teaneck Leads Disabled Students To Jobs

From the left, Brian Fitzgibbons, Tracy Zur, Mohammad Abulaimoun, Tammy Molinelli, Howard Lerner, and Carolyn Biedenkapp.
From the left, Brian Fitzgibbons, Tracy Zur, Mohammad Abulaimoun, Tammy Molinelli, Howard Lerner, and Carolyn Biedenkapp. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Bergen County

Bergen County students with disabilities can participate in a unique internship program during their last year of high school at Teaneck Holy Name Medical Center and Hackensack University Medical Center.

Project SEARCH is a one-year, business-led internship program that teaches students job skills that can be used in any number of careers.

An information session for school districts is being held on Nov. 18, 9-11 a.m., with check-in at 8:30 a.m., at Courtyard Montvale, 100 Chestnut Ridge Road, Montvale.

A Student and Family Information Session takes place Nov. 30, 6-8 p.m. with check-in at 5:30 p.m. at New Bridges High School Cafeteria, 296 East Ridgewood Ave., Paramus.

For more information contact Michael Pagan, 201.336.6972 or Jared Lautz, 201.336.6530.

Pre-Registration is required for both sessions. Application and event registration will be posted on .

“Every student deserves the chance to reach for their highest hopes and fulfill their greatest potential,” said Bergen County Executive James Tedesco. “Bergen County is proud to be a part of Project SEARCH."

Freeholder Vice Chairwoman Tracy Zur spearheaded the project in Bergen County. “Programs like this change the dialogue and focus on the abilities of these young people—that hiring people with differing abilities is good business sense,” said Zur said.

Participants in the program are nationally employed at nearly double New Jersey’s 37 percent employment rate for people with disabilities.

"Holy Name is proud to partner with Bergen County on this first-of-its-kind project in New Jersey," said Michael Maron, President and CEO, Holy Name Medical Center.

The program is one of the largest job training programs in the nation for students with disabilities.

“It has been exciting to see not only the departments involved directly with students, but the entire medical center rally around Project SEARCH and contribute to the program’s success,” said Ihor S. Sawczuk, M.D., president, HackensackUMC.

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development provided over $250,000 in funding statewide to support this effort.

“New Jersey’s Project SEARCH programs demonstrate just how effective high-quality, employer-driven partnerships are in providing career pathways for all New Jerseyans,” said Acting Commissioner Fichtner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

The combination of instruction and immersion in the workplace prepares young adults with disabilities to make successful transitions from school to productive adult life.

“Project SEARCH provides Bergen County's students with significant disabilities with the skills they need to succeed in today’s work environment,” said Alice Hunnicutt, Director of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services. “

Project SEARCH is a collaborative partnership between business, education, workforce and government agencies, vocational rehabilitation, community rehabilitation providers, long-term support agencies, and families that provides students who want to work a chance to explore careers and develop transferable job skills.

“Project SEARCH represents an exemplary public-private partnership by linking County Government with disability services, K-12, the public workforce system and business for the betterment of young people with disabilities. This is what the Bergen County Workforce Development board does, bring community partners together to identify workforce challenges in the community and develop strategies around those challenges to solve them,” said Tammy Molinelli, Executive Director of the Bergen County Workforce Investment Board.

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