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Make a Difference Giving to Michigan State University
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  • $4,725 RAISED OF $5,000 GOAL
  • 33 PARTICIPANTS

HONOR ROLL

  • Savanah Cary $25
  • Jeff Cary $100
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  • Nitish Pahwa $25
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  • Marshall Olger $250
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  • Lisa Wilcox $20
  • Edith Lange $100
  • Tamara Hazel $40
  • Patty West $100
  • Carol McDonald $20

What is Spartan Project SEARCH?

Spartan Project SEARCH focuses on providing total immersion in inclusive workplace settings, where the students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (called interns during Project SEARCH) can work alongside coworkers and supervisors without disabilities to develop marketable employment skills. The end goal for each intern is to obtain competitive paid employment in an inclusive setting after completing the program. Spartan Project SEARCH works toward this goal by providing each intern with 3 different internship experiences to develop a diverse array of skills, as well as providing classroom instruction from a special education teacher to offer further instruction in employability and independent living skills.

Spartan Project SEARCH Peer Mentoring Program

Project SEARCH students at a video game

The Spartan Project SEARCH Peer Mentoring program was created to provide the Spartan Project SEARCH interns with opportunities to interact with their same-aged peers at MSU. Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities often experience social isolation and struggle to develop friendships, and few have opportunities to participate in social events in their community (Shattuck et al. 2011). To address this isolation, the Spartan Project SEARCH Peet Mentoring program is a year-long integrated mentoring program for the Spartan Project SEARCH interns.

MSU undergraduate students are recruited from a variety of academic programs throughout the university to serve as peer mentors to the interns. Each mentor is paired with an intern who they meet with on a weekly basis, often during the intern’s lunch break or while walking to and from their internship site. These one-on-one meetings are opportunities for interns to socialize with same-age peers, practice appropriate social skills, and build genuine friendships.

The Peer Mentoring program also promotes community engagement by hosting monthly social events for all interns and peer mentors together. These events are planned by the interns and their peer mentors and take place on campus or in the Greater Lansing community. Past events have included attending Lugnuts games, going bowling, attending art classes, and more. The social outings provide interns and peers a chance to get out into the broader community, as well as providing an example of inclusivity and understanding to community members. Spartan Project SEARCH graduates are also invited to these social outings, encouraging them to stay connected with their peers and the campus community.

Not only do the Spartan Project SEARCH interns get the opportunity to develop a friendship with a peer, but the mentors also gain a better understanding of individuals with IDD. The Peer Mentoring program helps foster a more inclusive and understanding campus environment by demystifying disability, and showing members of the MSU and Greater Lansing communities that individuals with IDD have the same experiences, struggles, and dreams as everyone else.

The Spartan Project SEARCH Peer Mentoring Program was also nationally recognized in 2019 by the Jon C. Dalton Institute on College Student Values, receiving the institute’s Best Practices Award. The award recognizes an outstanding practice or program relevant to the field of college student character and values development. The Peer Mentoring Program was honored at the Dalton Institute’s annual conference for the program’s impact on campus culture at MSU.

Intern and Peer Testimonials

“Peer mentoring helped me to talk more.  Me and [my peer mentor], we like talking about how my day was.  He was teaching me to talk more and be interactive.” – Project SEARCH intern

“I got more confident.  There were good social outings, meeting new friends…I feel more independent.  I made some new intern friends and peers and we hang out with them on weekends. We have sleepovers, and go bowling, and go for ice cream.”  -- Project SEARCH intern

A mentor and a mentee in project search“I have become more open minded and better able to interact with people with developmental disabilities.  This is an experience that I really cherish because if not for that experience, I would still be in my own bubble and remain ignorant about people with developmental disabilities. I am very thankful and very happy for the opportunity to be able to interact with them.” – Peer Mentor 

"Most of all, I have a friend. And for [my mentee], I think it’s the same thing, too. She has a friend. She can call me or text me about anything.” – Peer Mentor

Your Support Can Make A Difference

The Spartan Project SEARCH team strives to make the Peer Mentoring program an engaging and worthwhile experience that will stick with the Project SEARCH interns and their undergraduate peers for years to come. Your support for the Peer Mentoring program goes towards:

  • Funding the monthly social events
  • Funding our summer Peer Mentoring experience
    • This summer program helps introduce new Project SEARCH interns to campus and to their peers before the Project SEARCH year starts in the fall, and involves community social events twice each month over the course of the summer.
  • Funding the staff coordinators who provide training for the peer mentors, check in with peers weekly to offer support and advice, and help plan and facilitate each social event

You can make a difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities, and help create a more inclusive campus! Donate today to support Spartan Project SEARCH and our mission to improve the lives of young adults with IDD.

Project SEARCH began at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 1996 as an effort to help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) gain on-the-job experience. Since its inception, Project SEARCH has expanded across the globe, with over 600 sites worldwide. The project partners with businesses that offer opportunities for individuals with IDD to learn employment skills.

Group shot of members

Project SEARCH partnered with Michigan State University to create Spartan Project SEARCH, a year-long school-to-work transition program on MSU’s campus for young adults with IDD to gain employment skills through intensive internship experiences. The program began in 2016 as an interagency, multidisciplinary collaboration between MSU and various state and community partners, including Ingham Intermediate School District, Michigan Rehabilitation Services, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Community Mental Health, Bureau of Services for Blind Persons, and Peckham, Inc.

Make a Gift by Mail:

University Advancement
Spartan Way
535 Chestnut Road, Room 300
East Lansing, MI 48824

*Make check payable to Michigan State University and write “Appeal 20OOPCF1SPSEARC” in the note section.

CARES Act

The CARES Act allows taxpayers to take a charitable deduction of up to $300 for those who take the standard deduction. As always, please consult your tax advisor/attorney for advice on your specific situation.

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