Creating an Inclusive Workplace for Individuals with Disabilities

Innovations & Initiatives


project search employee presents in front of a whiteboard

Understanding our workforce helps us better understand our members. Our employees' diverse ideas, experiences, and cultures help us drive our mission to deliver a full spectrum of high-quality healthcare solutions.

Centene partnered with Easterseals Midwest to bring Project SEARCH, a workforce training program founded at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, to our corporate headquarters. Project SEARCH prepares individuals for transition into integrated, competitive employment by offering young adults with disabilities the opportunity to obtain first-hand job and business experience.

"Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is a vital part of how we serve our members and communities. Being representative of the communities we serve allows us to see challenges the way our members do and innovate to offer solutions to meet those challenges," said Michael F. Neidorff, Centene Chairman and CEO.

Project SEARCH launched at Centene in October 2017, and four exceptional participants graduated the following June. Centene's Kansas subsidiary, Sunflower Health Plan, serves as the Statewide Coordinator for all Kansas Project SEARCH programs and has hired interns as a result of the initiative.

"We are proud to partner with Easterseals, a nearly century-old network of disability service providers who custom design community efforts to better support children and adults living with disabilities," said Wade Rakes, Centene Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. "Continued support of programs such as Project SEARCH are key drivers in ensuring that every member of our workforce has access to the tools and resources that enable them to be successful."

As part of the Project SEARCH curriculum, participants complete three 10-week internships and classroom instruction prior to graduation. A recent group of program participants spent time training across areas at Centene, including Enrollment, Facilities, Medicare Operations, Office Services, and our on-site café.

As the program continues, Centene plans to expand the initiative across departments and locations nationwide. To follow the story of a recent program participant, watch Derek's journey below.