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Our Story

Our story began in 2006, when Butler Tech undertook the mission to ensure that quality outcome-focused career tech education was available to ALL students within our SW Ohio region. When asked if there was something that we could be doing better for students, our community stakeholders reported that Butler Tech needed to do a better job of educating students with intellectual/developmental disabilities. Students for whom a typical workforce development program was not specialized enough to meet their unique learning needs. They needed their own quality programming that would develop the employability and independent living skills needed to secure competitive employment in their community. 

After a review of available transition to work programs, Butler Tech made the decision to replicate Project SEARCH. This was the start of a remarkable collaboration with the Project SEARCH team. The fact that we are located a 30-minute drive from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, made our Butler Tech Project SEARCH location available to easily pilot new initiatives and share ideas with Project SEARCH team members as their program continued to evolve into the award winning internationally replicated program it is today.

At the end of our first year of Project SEARCH, we found that a few of the interns were not as successful as we had hoped they would be. Low maturity, complex learning needs and a lack of overall independence let us know that some students were going to need additional time and education to reach success in Project SEARCH and later to achieve their goal of inclusive employment.

This discovery catalyzed the Butler Tech team to identify what additional time and skill development supports would be needed. Never one to shy away from a challenge, the passionate team of educators began the development of their own program.

Project LIFE opened to students in 2007 to support the multi-year programming needs of students with significant disabilities. The influx of students with I/DD seeking quality programming designed to help them meet their future goals for greater independence and integrated employment continued to grow. In the span of 5 years, Butler Tech had added two more Project SEARCH programs and 2 more Project LIFE programs. Today, our highly successful transition program continuum consists of 4 Project LIFE and 3 Project SEARCH programs supporting 120 students per year on their journey to a more independent and fulfilling adult life. 

Newly revised in 2023, the Project LIFE curriculum aligns to a variety of transition focused state and national learning standards, including 21st Century Workplace Readiness Skills.

"The biggest difference that we saw when Cameron started with Project LIFE, and then ultimately through Project SEARCH with Butler Tech, was his confidence. He started speaking and looking people in the eyes and having that confidence in himself that wasn't included in a classroom. He's actually out in the world."

— Vannessa Ives, Project LIFE Parent

Project LIFE Replication

A program worth repeating in your community

Project LIFE is impacting lives coast-to-coast. Designed by a collaborative team of passionate educators, parents and rehabilitation professionals, this proven program is available for national replication. Bring Project LIFE to your community today!

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