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New community partnership helping young adults with disabilities get real work experience

Jackson, Mich. – Young adults with significant disabilities are on a path to a successful career thanks to a new partnership in Jackson County.

The Jackson County Intermediate School District has teamed up with Michigan-based utility Consumers Energy for an employment preparation program known as Project SEARCH | Consumers Energy. The program brings young adults from the Kit Young Center into the workplace for hands-on training to help prepare them for a real job.

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Project SEARCH | Consumers Energy is a complete immersion experience. We have relocated our classroom right within Consumers Energy. This program involves a 30-week extensive internship training, exploration and on-going job coaching skills by Skills Trainers and mentors who are Consumers Energy employees,” says Project SEARCH Instructor David McKnight.

Nine interns began working at Consumers Energy’s Parnall Road facility in the fall of 2018. They are spread out through eight different departments – including Facilities & Maintenance, Financial Planning & Operations, Metering & Regulation and Customer Energy Management. On a daily basis, they are working side by side with other Consumers Energy employees, assisting in tasks like mail processing and converting documents from hard copies to digital.

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Project SEARCH | Consumers Energy also includes classroom instruction, individual feedback addressing strengths and weaknesses, help with resumes and portfolios – even making accommodations that will allow the intern to be more successful in their current internship.

“The end goal for all interns is for them to gain marketable and transferable skills that will help them obtain competitive employment,” says McKnight. “Our team works to improve the interns’ skills, while always having a focus on employment.”

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Interns will begin their job search in the spring and graduate from the program in June. From there, they may begin work at Consumers Energy or somewhere else in the community.

Kaci Babineau
kaci.babineau@jcisd.org
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