Money & Business

AARP Foundation Boosts Employment Initiative

By / Apr 5, 2016 (iStock/Thinkstock)

Many older Americans need employment assistance to become more financially stable, says AARP Foundation—which is why the foundation is expanding its partnerships with local colleges and nonprofits to provide it.

At a time when many workers start thinking seriously about retirement, others need help finding and keeping jobs to avoid slipping into poverty later in life, according to AARP Foundation. That’s the mission of its Back to Work 50+ program, and last week, the foundation announced it was expanding the initiative through five new grants.

These resources can help equip this often-ignored population with the skills they need to find a job and reach financial security and stability.

The program helps empower unemployed and low-income people who are 50 and older to increase their income through employment. While many 50-plus workers are raising children and helping aging parents, more than 3 million of them are also looking for full-time employment, according to the initiative, which provides support, training, and access to employers for program participants.

Back to Work 50+ works with 24 community colleges, workforce investment boards, and nonprofit organizations in 15 states to serve job seekers. More than 20,000 people have benefited from the program.

“For many low-income older adults who have been out of the workforce for a while, finding a job can be an uphill battle. That is why we are connecting them to community colleges and nonprofits,” AARP Foundation President Lisa Marsh Ryerson said in a statement. “These resources can help equip this often-ignored population with the skills they need to find a job and reach financial security and stability.”

The new grants are going to three nonprofit organizations and two community colleges. The nonprofits are the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, the National Able Network (in the Chicago area and Dupage County, Illinois), and Youth Co-Op, Inc. (in the greater Miami area). They will offer workshops on “7 Smart Strategies for 50+ Jobseekers,” as well as coaching sessions. The program’s work with community colleges is made possible through a collaboration with the American Association of Community Colleges.

Through the Back to Work 50+ Women’s Economic Stability Initiative, the two community college grantees—Miami Dade College, North Campus, in Miami, and Jefferson State Community College in Birmingham, Alabama—will focus on helping women 50 and older find jobs and build their financial savvy.

The Women’s Economic Stability Initiative is funded by the Social Innovation Fund. “SIF’s data reinforces that when women have access to education and thus jobs, the entire family benefits,” said SIF Director Damian Thorman in a statement. “Delivering training through community colleges is also one of the most effective ways for women 50-plus to gain the necessary skills they need to be competitive in the workforce.”

Back to Work 50+ encourages employers to hire older workers, arguing that they are more motivated and more loyal than their younger counterparts—and that 50-plus workers are the “new normal,” as more of them are participating in the workforce.

All the grantees will work with AARP Foundation to expand their programs’ reach and evaluate best practices for bringing economic opportunity to low-income older adults.

Allison Torres Burtka

Allison Torres Burtka, a longtime association journalist, is a freelance writer and editor in West Bloomfield, Michigan. More »

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