Our Goal: Employment for people with disabilities to earn competitive wages.

On-the-job training, career exploration and coaching for people with significant disabilities in Eastern CT.

Our new program provides real-life work experience, at our partner’s employment site — The Mohegan Sun — and combines training and independent-living skills to help young people with physical, developmental and intellectual disabilities make successful transitions for a productive adult life.

Kia Baird, Project SEARCH Coordinator

UCP of Eastern Connecticut is offering this national model through a partnership between Project SEARCH, The Mohegan Sun and CT’s Department of Developmental Services (DDS).

UCP has 12 internships available to train young adults in multiple employment settings at the Mohegan Sun.

Program highlights include:

  • Total immersion in the workplace for real-life work experience
  • Extensive period of functional skills training
  • Three different internships to explore various career paths
  • Innovative adaptations
  • Long-term job coaching
  • Continuous feedback from teachers, skills trainers and employers

As a result, at the completion of our training program, students with intellectual disabilities are trained for employment in new and rewarding jobs.

Nationally, statistics report that 75% of graduates are hired, often by the businesses that hosted the Project SEARCH Program.

UCP’s Project SEARCH program will take place at Mohegan Sun. Twelve interns will attend the program from September 2021 to June in 2022, at our host business. The business site is staffed by UCP skills trainers to meet the educational and training needs of the interns. This is one of only four programs in our state.

Project SEARCH serves two populations of young people with significant disabilities:

  1. High school students who are on an Individual Education Program (IEP) and entering their last year of high school eligibility.
  2. Young adults with DDS funding who are between the ages of 18 and 35.


PLEASE CALL US FOR MORE INFO AT 860.443.3800 x 125


  1. Young adults with significant disabilities, 18 – 35
  2. Strong desire to work and earn competitive wages
  3. Residents in Eastern CT with access to reliable transportation for work
  4. For students:  Entering the last year of their high school education
  5. DDS funded young adults receiving resources for employment services

Intern Selection

Interns are referred to the program through their schools, special education professionals, family members, DDS Case Manager, or vocational rehabilitation counselors. Partner representatives carry out the selection process. The process includes tours, interviews, hands-on assessments at the host business, and scoring on a rubric related to entrance considerations.

Program participants must have independent living and social skills and have the desire to seek and gain competitive employment at the conclusion of the internship.

Interns, case managers, special educators, parents & guardians can begin the application process online here. Once we receive your information, we will contact you right away.

Download our brochure for more informationUCP Project SEARCH Brochure

Everyone gains from this program

  • Young adults with disabilities find gainful employment at competitive wages. On the job training helps them succeed in the workplace. Interns discover and acquire transferrable skills through a series of 3-targeted internships, which helps each person explore various career paths. They also make vital social and business connections in this extensive program.
  • Employers diversify their workforces and fill jobs that are often high turnover positions.
  • Project SEARCH programs bring about long-term changes in business culture that have positive effects on attitudes about hiring people with disabilities — as programs demonstrate how individuals with disabilities can succeed at a wide range of jobs.
  • Social service agencies, like UCP of Eastern CT get to offer cutting edge employment solutions to their program participants.
  • The State of CT has a decrease in subsidies.
  • On a federal level, the government mandates that people with disabilities must have competitive employment (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act— WIOA). This program reduces sub-minimum wages and sheltered workshops, along with group supported employment.
  • Society benefits by having a more inclusive workforce.

Watch this video to learn how Project Search started.

“Having gone through the ringer for the past 25 years with so many bad experiences related to my son, his education, medical treatment, etc. I had zero expectations for this program, Project SEARCH. In the beginning, as I started to build trust, I realized everyone at UCP of Eastern CT’s Project SEARCH program was there because they cared, not simply because they had a job to do. They showed me how important my son was to them. They were reliable, caring, dependable and incredibly hard working. They got me to think outside of my comfort zone and challenged both me and my son to never say no. This opened our eyes to the possibilities. As a parent, they made me believe in the ‘system’ again.” – Christine M.

Two of UCP’s graduates have been hired by Mohegan Sun. Congratulations to Chris and Sam! Read about them in this news article.

Project SEARCH graduate Chris Lee Meola, shared words of wisdom in this video for future interns… “To do your best work”, during a beautiful outdoor graduation ceremony in June of 2021.

We are proud to partner with The Mohegan Sun, The CT Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and Project SEARCH to announce this vital new employment program