Program Spotlight – Project SEARCH – UAB Recognizes that Inclusion Works

High school students with developmental disabilities are now receiving a unique opportunity to gain valuable experience and employment thanks to Project SEARCH, a collaborative effort between UCP of Greater Birmingham, UAB and other state agencies. This school-to-work transition program immerses high school seniors in competitive employment through hands on training for ten-week internship rotations. The goal is for each student to earn a paid job by the end of the program year. Founded 3 years ago at Birmingham Southern, the program now resides with the University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System.

Here is one student’s touching SUCCESS story.

Yabathe Phillips, a student at Huffman High school, entered the Project SEARCH program at Birmingham-Southern College in January 2015. As a program intern, she worked in the cafeteria for ten weeks, gaining valuable experience while mastering skills to aid in future employment. She began her internship in a customer service role helping keep the cafeteria clean and greeting BSC students as they arrived for a meal. After handling these tasks with ease, Yabathe wanted more of a challenge during her work day. She showed initiative as well as interest in baking and requested to start training in the kitchen as her work in the cafeteria slowed down in the afternoons. Yabathe’s bold, can-do attitude won over the baker. Soon she began training to make desserts every afternoon. As the program transitioned to UAB, Yabathe began working in the Food and Nutrition Services department. Her job duties included retrieving food trays from patient units and individual patient rooms along with documenting how many trays she was returning. After only two months, Yabathe received permission to cross-train in a more customer service-oriented position enabling her to add more skills to her already impressive repertoire. In September 2015, Yabathe was offered a full-time position in her department only six months after the internship began. She continues to work even harder since accepting her full-time position receiving praise daily from nurses and patients alike who consistently compliment both her attitude and strong work ethic.

When asked about her experience in the Project SEARCH program, Yabathe enthusiastically says, “Project SEARCH helped me learn how to get a job. I like working because I have my own money, and everyone at UAB Hospital is nice.”

The determination and dedication she gives to her job continues to this day. Yabathe is one shining example proving that INCLUSION WORKS.

Project SEARCH is one of many important initiatives of UCP of Greater Birmingham’s Supported Employment Program. Our Supported Employment team works with close to 300 adults with disabilities, helping them find and maintain MEANINGFUL employment. If you or someone you know would like more information about this important program that proves inclusion works, please contact Stacey Miller at 205-943-5236 or

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