Spartan Project SEARCH
Connie Sung and Marisa Fisher, College of Education, Center for Research in Autism, Intellectual, and Other Neurodevelopmental Disabilities
Michigan Rehabilitation Services
Ingham Intermediate School District
For individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), the anxiety and obstacles experienced during the transition from youth to adulthood can be overwhelming. In 2016, MSU faculty members Connie Sung and Marisa Fisher, in collaboration with intermediate school district and vocational rehabilitation agencies, initiated Spartan Project SEARCH at MSU, a program that helps transition-aged youth with IDD to overcome some of those obstacles. MSU is the first large public university to host the international Project SEARCH program.
To date, Spartan Project SEARCH has provided internship and employment opportunities to 25 transition-age individuals with IDD; involved over 40 MSU undergraduate students in a peer mentoring program; engaged over 30 internship site supervisors; provided disability awareness training to over 200 staff of departments/units across campus; and provided clinical and research training opportunities for over 10 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Academic outcomes include research publications examining the impact of this program on students with IDD and on the MSU community (4 peer-reviewed journal articles and 12 conference presentations) and 8 new funding awards.
Spartan Project SEARCH is a clear example of multiple partners and large groups of people successfully collaborating to improve the quality of life of individuals with disabilities and to embrace a more inclusive and diverse campus.