Transition Services

OakLeaf Partners Transition Services offers opportunities for young adults to make a smooth transition from high school to working in the community after graduation.  Programs serve young adults with a wide variety of disabilities, with mild to complex support needs at multiple business partner sites throughout Northeast Ohio. 

Project SEARCH

Project SEARCH is a one year school to work transition program for students with disabilities during their final year of high school.  Project SEARCH is based on a national model first piloted at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 1996 and has developed into a comprehensive training and job development program that has been replicated with private and public employers at over 700 sites in 48 states, as well as 10 other countries. It is based on a partnership between business, education and vocational rehabilitation and was created as a unique, business led, one year school-to-work program that takes place entirely at the workplace. Total workplace immersion during the student’s senior year facilitates a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration and on-the-job training. 

    • Multiple partners support student interns on their path to employment including a host business, school districts, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, an Ohio County Board of Developmental Disabilities and UCP of Greater Cleveland’s OakLeaf Partners Transition Services.

    • The program takes place in a business setting where student interns attend class and work in multiple unpaid internships throughout the host business.

    • Classroom work includes employment related topics such as business math, appropriate workplace behavior and job search techniques and is led by a licensed special education teacher and OakLeaf Skills Trainer.

    • An on-site OakLeaf Skills Trainer provides work-based individualized coaching, job accommodation and feed-back during three internship rotations throughout the host business.

    • An OakLeaf Job Placement Specialist works individually with each student to find and retain employment in the community within six months of graduation.

    • Job coaching is available for individuals once they have started their new job if needed.

OakLeaf Partners Transition Services has worked with our partners to develop four Northeast Ohio Project SEARCH sites at:

    • University Hospitals Parma Hospital

    • Cleveland Clinic Main Campus

    • Mercy Health-Lorain Hospital in Lorain County

    • Westfield Insurance in Medina County

For a comprehensive overview of the Project SEARCH model, visit the official Project SEARCH website.


Summer Youth Work Experience

Summer Youth Work Experience offers paid opportunities for high school students with disabilities to gain valuable work experience during the summer at business throughout Northeast Ohio. 

  • For many students, this is their first community-based work experience.

  • Students refine their hard and soft work skills, develop training goals and make progress toward employment objectives.

  • OakLeaf Skills Trainers provide on-the-job training for the student and work with the employer to identify accommodations that will assist the individual in being a successful employee.

  • Examples of host sites include Aramark at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Great Lakes Science Center and Burlington.

View the flyer for our 2024 Summer Youth Work Experience program.


For more information about Project SEARCH or Summer Youth Work Experience, please contact Kate Adkins-Dix at (216) 791-8363, ext. 1252 or