Plus-50 Encore Completion Program Expanding, Thanks to Grants

Plus-50 Encore Completion Program Expanding, Thanks to Grants
Learn about the recent decision to provide additional grants to the Plus 50 Encore Completion program that trains baby boomers at community colleges for new careers.

Grants are now available for community colleges that would like to expand their offerings to include the Plus-50 Encore Completion program started by the American Association of Community Colleges. This program helps adults over the age of 50 find a new start in the workplace by training them up for in-demand industries today. The program is part of a larger initiative to increase the number of college graduates in the United States through 2020.

About the Plus-50 Encore Completion Program

The Plus-50 Encore Completion program was launched in 2008 to address the needs of baby boomers nearing retirement age. Many in that category were hit with the realization they would need to continue working into their retirement years, either for personal fulfillment or practical reasons. The program provides training for working adults to update their skills or learn completely new trades they can easily move into during their later years of employment.

The program is sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), through a $3.2 million grant provided by the Deerbrook Charitable Trust. In addition to implementing training programs for students in this age bracket, the initiative provides a way for community colleges to share ideas and plans for supporting adult students at community college campuses across the country. AACC has also engaged with an outside group to evaluate the success of the Plus-50 program, in order to assess its success and areas for improvement.

An independent evaluation of the Plus-50 program found that the majority of students who participated saw success in their efforts, according to the Plus-50 website for AACC. Around 89 percent said the work training they received through the Plus-50 program helped them acquire new skills. In addition, 72 percent said the skills they learned helped them land jobs in their new industries.

This video from Manatee Educational TV reports on the Plus-50 Program.

Grant Applications Now Accepted

According to the AACC website, applications have recently been accepted from additional community colleges that would like to begin a Plus-50 program on their campuses. The association currently has additional grant funding to distribute to expand the program into more schools. Currently, schools are being chosen from those applications to receive funding for the implementation of a new Plus-50 program. Selected schools will also have the opportunity to learn from other community colleges that have established successful Plus-50 programs to ensure the success of the program at new schools as well.

The Philanthropy News Digest reports that AACC currently has enough grant money to award $15,000 to 100 community colleges across the country. To be eligible for a grant, schools must demonstrate that they have an effective support system in place for students in this age category, which includes career development services and interventions that encourage degree completion. Schools must also be prepared to foster partnerships with area businesses, ensure training programs are relevant and promote employment opportunities immediately after graduation.

Colleges eligible to receive Plus-50 grants must not have received grant funding for this program in the past. The schools must be members in good standing of AACC and have ideas already in place for beginning a successful Plus-50 program.

In this video, Mary Sue Vickers of the American Association of Community Colleges discusses AACC's new Plus 50 Completion Strategy.

Salt Lake Community College Grant Recipient

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Salt Lake Community College has been named one of the Plus-50 grant recipients for 2013. The school will train up plus-50 students for in-demand jobs in healthcare and education. Specifically, the college plans to offer programs that prepare students to work as ultrasound technicians, pharmacy technicians, and medical information specialists. The school will also provide preparation for students in this category to become teachers at both the primary and secondary levels. The latter program will be accomplished in partnership with the Utah State Office of Education.

“People returning for education and training at this stage of their lives are building on rich employment histories, valuable interpersonal skills, and knowledge achieved through experiential learning,” Jennifer Saunders, Associate Dean of Continuing Education at Salt Lake Community College, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “These resources are then being coupled with the most current workforce education.”

The focus of the program will be geared to students who are in this age bracket with many years of work experience and additional responsibilities from career and family demands. Flexible scheduling and accelerated classes will be a must for these students. The school will also draw on the experience of other successful Plus-50 models as they design their program to meet the needs of this select group of students.

Montgomery County Community College to Launch Plus-50 Program

Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania is another school chosen to receive Plus-50 grant funding this year. According to The Mercury, Montgomery is only one of 28 schools chosen to receive a Plus-50 grant so far this year. The school plans to address the needs of this population in specific ways. Although the higher unemployment rate was less likely to impact workers in this age bracket during the recent recession, those that did lose their jobs often faced more challenges in finding new employment elsewhere. This training program will offer those adults the training they need in high-demand professions to land jobs after graduation.

The Plus-50 Encore Completion program is still going strong after five successful years at community colleges nationwide. With a plan to add many more schools to the roster in 2013, the Plus-50 program will continue to help baby boomers find meaningful employment opportunities at all stages of their working careers.

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