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Project SEARCH Puts Youth with Disabilities to Work

Oct 18, 2019

NEWS RELEASE                                                                                                               

Diana Jackin
Communications Manager
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Project SEARCH Puts Youth with Disabilities to Work

Only program of its kind in Northern Nevada gives students job training at the Atlantis

Reno, NV – Local students with disabilities now have a chance to get work-based learning experience thanks to a partnership between Atlantis Casino Resort Spa and Project SEARCH.  As the only program of its kind in Northern Nevada, Project SEARCH offers hands-on job training to prepare young people with significant disabilities for employment and success in the workplace. 

Students in the program are between 18-22 years old, have applied through the Washoe County School District, and have a variety of disabilities including Intellectual Disability, Autism, Multiple Impairments,  Down Syndrome, and ADHD.  The nine month program is an unpaid internship where students work Monday through Friday in Atlantis’s kitchen, laundry, and housekeeping departments.  They rotate through each department every three months, gaining valuable work experience in the hospitality industry.  At the conclusion of the internship, many of the students are hired on as regular paid employees or use their skills to gain other employment elsewhere. 

Special Needs students are a valuable resource to employers as well as they tend to be loyal, enthusiastic, hardworking team members.  In addition, many of them bring unique skills to the workplace such as autistic students who may be extraordinarily proficient at memorizing and learning information quickly and being precise and detail oriented. 

Project SEARCH is a worldwide program with 400 sites across 43 states and four countries.  The Reno location is the only site in Northern Nevada, and all interns currently work at Atlantis.   Approximately 75 percent of the Project SEARCH interns are hired, often by the businesses that hosted the program.   

“This is the first time that Atlantis has participated in Project SEARCH, and we’re delighted to be working with these students,” said Lisa Trujillo, Talent & Recruitment Manager at Atlantis Casino Resort Spa.  “These kids are so enthusiastic and happy to be working here, and we hope to continue this program for years to come.”

The work site is staffed by local skills trainers from United Cerebral Palsy of Nevada to meet the educational and coaching needs of the interns. At the completion of the program, students are trained and prepared for competitive employment.

“It’s really an honor to offer this job-training program to the area’s young people with disabilities,“

said Monica Elsbrock, CEO of United Cerebral Palsy of Nevada. “They gain valuable

experiences so that they can make an informed choice about what kind of job they want.”

About Project SEARCH: 

Project SEARCH was developed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, a research environment that fosters visionary thinking and innovation. It all began in 1996, when Erin Riehle was Director of Cincinnati Children’s Emergency Department. Erin felt that, because the hospital served individuals with developmental disabilities, it made sense that they should commit to hiring people in this group. She wondered if it would be possible to train people with developmental disabilities to fill some of the high- turnover, entry-level positions in her department, which involved complex and systematic tasks such as stocking supply cabinets. As a starting point, Erin presented her ideas to Susie Rutkowski, then the special education director at Great Oaks Career Campuses. Erin and Susie formed a partnership that was instantaneous, and together they launched Project SEARCH. Since 1996, the Project SEARCH model has grown to approximately 400 sites across 43 states and four countries.


About Atlantis Casino Resort Spa:

Atlantis Casino Resort Spa is consistently ranked the #1 Reno resort on TripAdvisor, has the prestigious AAA Four Diamond designation, and is recommended by the Forbes Travel Guide. Atlantis is recognized for its luxurious accommodations, eight award-winning restaurants including four of the top 10 on TripAdvisor, 10 captivating bars and lounges, a world-class spa with the highly coveted Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Designation, and casino-wide action.  Nestled at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Atlantis is ideally located in the heart of Reno and is the only resort connected by a Sky Bridge to the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.  Just minutes away from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, the Atlantis is near pristine area golf courses and is just a half-hour away from Lake Tahoe. Guests enjoy complimentary airport shuttle service, free valet parking, and acres of convenient self-parking.  For more information, visit or call 800.723.6500. Follow us on Facebook at, Instagram at, or Twitter at @atlantiscasino.