AACC Awarded $3.2 Million Grant to Boost Programs for Older Learners

Many businesses anticipate mass worker shortages as baby boomers retire and are looking to two-year colleges to fill the coming skills gap. However, many of these older workers can’t afford to retire and are needing new skills to keep up with new jobs created in this age of ever-changing technology.

In that vein, the American Association of Community Colleges has received a $3.2 million grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies to create or expand programs for 50-plus learners. Community colleges will be selected to receive these funds through a competitive process designed to highlight best practices across the nation.

“Our foundation focuses on bringing lasting improvements to people’s lives, so we’re proud to support community colleges, which already have a strong track record in responding to the educational needs of Americans over 50,” says Laura Robbins, programme executive for Atlantic’s U.S. Ageing Programme. “Whether they’re embarking on new careers, discovering new talents and interests or finding new ways to support their communities, these individuals are turning to community colleges as the first step.”

With the support of grant funds from the Atlantic Philanthropies, AACC member colleges will work to expand enrollment among Americans 50 and older and create programs to boost access and support for these older learners. AACC will target 15 colleges for specific support in creating and growing programs to serve these 50-plus students. Five of these institutions will serve as mentor institutions to 10 demonstration colleges. In the future, AACC will seek out other partners to expand these efforts to other institutions.

“The research shows there are many people who will choose not to retire, so that means that they’re going to need to be viable in terms of getting a job, keeping a job, keeping the kinds of jobs that are out there now and they’ll need to be re-skilled. Community colleges — that’s what we do,” says AACC Spokeswoman Norma Kent.

“We hear from industry that this tremendous skills gap is going to undermine us both socially and economically as a nation and in the communities where our colleges are serving. So we feel that it’s an appropriate part of our mission, and community colleges are the right institutions to be doing that kind of work,” she adds.

AACC is a national advocacy association representing over 95 percent of the nation’s two-year colleges. The Atlantic Philanthropies is a charity that focuses on issues relating to aging, disadvantaged youth, public health and human rights worldwide. Atlantic maintains offices in Australia, Bermuda, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the U. S. and Viet Nam. For more information, visit Atlantic on the Web at www.atlanticphilanthropies.org and AACC at www.aacc.nche.edu.

–David Pluviose

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