Yesterday, I introduced you to the Plus 50 Initiative, a project to benchmark and showcase the most current and innovative programs at community colleges that engage learners age 50 and over.
Organized by the American Association of Community Colleges, the Plus 50 Initiative invests in community colleges to create or expand campus programs that engage the plus 50 student population, with a focus on workforce training and preparing for new careers.
Baby boomers have increasingly turned to community colleges to train for new careers.
Since 2007, adults age 50 and over have struggled in a job market plagued by record unemployment.
Many find they must re-invent their careers and update their skills if they are going to get hired.
An independent evaluation of AACC’s Plus 50 Initiative found that 89 percent of baby boomer students agreed that college work force training helped them acquire new job skills, and 72 percent attributed landing a job to such training.
Careers in health care, education and social services appeal to baby boomers, who often have an interest in civic engagement.
The most recent initiative expansion, the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program, is reaching out to 100 community colleges across the country and is helping baby boomers earn high-value degrees or certificates in these fields that have strong hiring activity and allows the boomers to give back to their communities.
The economic future of the U.S. is inextricably linked to the capabilities of its work
By 2018, 63% of all jobs will require some post-secondary education.
Currently less than half the workforce holds an associate degree or higher level of education, creating a gap that calls for an additional 3 million credentialed workers (Carnevale, Smith, and Strohl, 2010).
This gap cannot be closed by increasing the stream of high school graduates.
Programs intended to expand the pool of college-ready youth will have some effect but will not come close
to achieving workforce needs.
The largest available population able to benefit from post-secondary education to meet these needs is the existing baby boomer workforce with adults seeking to enter or re-enter the workplace (Hoffman and Reind, 2011).
Achieving the projected target of 3 million additional credentialed workers requires broadened access for working adults through flexible, accelerated delivery models and new services tailored to adult learners that support their persistence to goal attainment.
Post-secondary education leaders that will be most successful, and have been most successful in meeting this
need, have redefined institutional relationships with adult learners, focusing on program delivery
and support services to meet the needs of working adults with multiple and competing responsibilities.
With the success of the the original Plus 50 Initiative well documented the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program was initiated in 2012.
This program aims to help 10,000 additional baby boomers earn high-value college degrees and/or certificates
The participating colleges offer workforce training programs that prepare older adults for careers as pharmacy technicians, clinical dental assistants, early childhood educators, medical billing and coding specialists, certified nursing assistants, substance abuse counselors, adult basic education instructors, human resources specialists, and positions in other in-demand fields.
This project is tripling in size the Plus 50 Initiative to 100 community colleges from 2012 to 2015.
New funding from the Deerbrook Charitable Trust supports this expansion.
The grant funding will provide these new plus 50 colleges with tools and resources, funds and expertise needed to build successful plus 50 programs.
Has the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program met it's goals of increasing the number of degrees and certificates that plus 50 students complete, as well as supporting plus 50 students to become employed.
During the most recent evaluation in November of 2013 for the period of 2012-2013:
- 1,074 students participated in 615 workforce programs at 50 colleges.
- 765 students completed degrees (138), credit certificates (157), or non-credit certificates (470).
- 175 plus 50 students from Encore Completion colleges secured employment this past year
Although the overall breathe of the student numbers who have successfully used the resources of the AACC program is not staggering they are very positive.
What is important to note is the growth of community colleges involved in the project (62 locations as of August, 2013 up from the original 18) and the individual success of the baby boomers that completed the programs.
- 80% of the eligible community colleges worked very quickly to initiate, develop and drive their participation in the program
- 71% of the boomer students enrolled in the Plus 50 curriculum received certificates and/or degrees.
- 16% found employment because of their efforts.
Because it is still so early in the program, most colleges were participating for less than the full year but if you look at the chart below you can see that these member colleges are progressing very quickly in getting the required phases of readiness completed to reach approval as an accredited Plus 50 Encore program participant.
Shortly after this report another 38 additional community colleges were chosen to join the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program offered by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).
Their selection brought the number of colleges working with the program to 100.
As of last count there are 124 community colleges across the nation involved in the Plus 50 program located in 36 different states.
This growth is extremely positive especially when compared to similar government sponsored educational programs.
Many states are reconsidering the enrollment-based funding model and instead are aligning funding models with state goals and priorities.
Twenty-five states—Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Washington—have a funding formula in place that allocates some amount of funding based on performance indicators such as course completion, time to degree, transfer rates, the number of degrees awarded, or the number of low-income and minority graduates.
She was kind enough to supply me with links and articles updating the progress of her program.
It looks like this program will continue to grow and expand at least though 2015.
It appears that the media coverage surrounding the expansion of the program has been increasing this year.
Mary states in our email:
"During our last reporting period June 1, 2013, and November 26, 2013 our press coverage for the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program included 94 articles and 51.4 million impressions.
This included 47 newspaper articles, 15 press releases, 10 stories by television outlets, 9 stories by online publications, 7 e-newsletter/newsletter articles, 3 magazine articles, 2 radio stories, and 1 news wire service story.
An article that was picked up by the Associated Press wire service, resulted in 176 additional reprints, coverage in the local DC fox news channel, and on 5 website.
The reprints were carried across the country, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Houston Chronicle, Dayton Daily News, and the San Francisco Chronicle."
This is a wonderful thing.
Based on the program's progress so far and the great work that Mary Sue Vickers and her team have done so far, the future looks bright for even more expansion of the Plus 50 initiative.
Even though funding models are evolving. charitable backing from organizations like the Lumina Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies and the Deerbrook Charitable Trust will be critical to all future success.
Even more importantly, I believe it's success will be based upon how important you baby boomers feel this type of program is to your goals in life and how aggressive you are in pushing this initiative forward with the community colleges, media and philanthropic associations in your area.
Hopefully, we can start a groundswell of support that will build this program into a world class example of what baby boomers do when they work together to better not only their own generation but the country as a whole.
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The more Baby Boomers we can help the better place we make this world !!!
Thanks for joining me..........................................................