Project SEARCH graduate Collin Biddle was awarded the prestigious Horizon Award by his employer, Fifth Third Bank, in October.
A full-time Fifth Third employee since his graduation in 2005, Biddle has exceeded the job standards in each position he has served in at the Bank. For example, wrote Assistant Vice President Jennifer Bishop, “Collin’s first assignment here at Fifth Third was in the COO Communications Department. He helped us overhaul the Bancorp’s Marketing customer communication files. He was responsible for sorting and reviewing over 3,000 letters in our system.
Currently a File Room Processor, Biddle regularly completes what had been a full-time workload in less than half a day, and has been assigned special projects to assist others in his department.
At one point, wrote a co-worker, "His work was done so quickly and efficiently that the vault staff could not keep up with him, and his work was put on hold to allow the other staff members to catch up."
The Horizon Award is a rare honor; less than 5 percent of Fifth Third employees ever earn the award. What makes this award even more meaningful is that Biddle, a Princeton High School graduate, deals with a speech and communication disability.
"He is an inspiration to his teammates and everyone in the group," wrote Fifth Third Vice President of Consumer Operations Chuck Maness. "I'm really impressed with Collin's ability to overcome obstacles and perform his tasks at a very high level. Collin is a very engaging employee and always has a smile on his face. In some way he makes us all better employees and creates a desire for us all to achieve our daily goals."
Biddle originally began work at Provident Bank (now National City Bank) as part of the Great Oaks Project SEARCH program, and later began work at Fifth Third Bank. Project SEARCH provides education and job opportunities to individuals with significant disabilities. Students develop various skills as they rotate through several different positions in a work setting.
Project SEARCH puts individuals with special needs into jobs that will provide them with autonomy, the chance to have an impact on their community, and long-term employment.
The program was started as a partnership between Great Oaks Institute of Technology and Career Development and Cincinnati Children's Hospital in the mid-1990s.
From these beginnings, similar programs have been started in Ohio, Florida, California, Washington, Pennsylvania, and other locations across the United States and internationally.