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Encore: Project SEARCH helps students with intellectual and developmental disabilities transition from school to work

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Project SEARCH

This episode originally aired on January 24, 2022.

Now in its fifth year here in Lee County, the Project SEARCH program helps students with intellectual and developmental disabilities transition from school to work.

The program was first developed more than two decades ago at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and is at more than 300 sites across the U.S. and around the world.

Here in Southwest Florida, participating students work at Lee Health's HealthPark Medical Center, and Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, all with support from the School District of Lee County.

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Project SEARCH
Former Project SEARCH intern Matteo Ingegneri (left), now serves as a mentor for a new intern, Starling. Matteo is one of our Project SEARCH interns who was hired following the completion of the program.

The goal for participants is competitive employment. In order to reach that goal, they are given real-life work experience, and training in employability and independent-living skills.

Hear two women who make Project SEARCH possible here in Lee County, as well as a current Project SEARCH intern, and a former intern.


  • Meghan Daley, Lee Health Workforce Development Specialist and Project SEARCH Program Coordinator
  • Colleen Tenfelde, LCSD Project SEARCH Teacher
  • Maria Olivares DelCarmen – Current Project SEARCH Intern from Bonita Springs High School
  • Matteo Ingegneri, Former Project SEARCH intern who was hired as an Instrument Tech in the Lee Health Sterile Processing Department

Tara Calligan is an award-winning journalist and a public media producer, writer and online content creator at WGCU. Twitter @TlCalligan