Spoon River College Staff Join National Effort to Help Train Older Learners

AACC’s Plus 50 Completion Strategy Aims to Help Baby Boomers Finish Degrees & Certificates
WASHINGTON – Degrees and credentials are needed for the jobs of the future, and today’s baby boomers can
turn to community colleges for help.
Local Spoon River College (SRC) staff members, working to help unemployed baby boomers finish degrees and
education credentials so they can get hired, recently attended the fourth annual conference for the Plus 50
Initiative in Washington, D.C. The conference was organized by the American Association of Community
Colleges (AACC). Fortyfive representatives from 28 colleges nationwide attended.
Community college staff, including Carol Davis, Vice President of Community Outreach, and Julie Seeley,
Community Outreach Coordinator of SRC attended the twoday meeting, where they discussed the standards
of excellence found in exemplary plus 50 programs at community colleges, identified strategies that have
worked at other colleges, and learned about resources to improve college programs for baby boomers.
The Plus 50 Completion Strategy aims to help plus 50 workers who are still struggling to recover from the
economic recession that sparked record unemployment. According to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of
Labor Statistics (BLS), 30 percent of the nation’s fastestgrowing occupations will be filled by people who have
a postsecondary education credential.
But getting those credentials can be challenging, especially if an individual is returning to the classroom after
spending decades in the workforce. Plus 50 adults must recultivate study habits left behind years ago and
navigate an admissions system designed for high school seniors. And most importantly, they must decide on a
path of study that will lead to a completed degree or credential and a new career.
Thankfully, they’re not facing those challenges alone. Spoon River College will be reaching out to
baby boomers to assist them in earning noncredit credentials in high demand fields, obtaining Certificates
and Degrees, and upgrading computer skills so that they may get back into the workforce as soon as possible.
“One issue we discussed at the conference was the need for classes/courses to be scheduled at times and
places convenient for those 50 and over,” said Carol Davis. “We have given this project high priority for the
next three years so that we can better the lives of our Plus 50 residents and assist our communities’ economic
development growth. The project is a positive addition to our other successful Retirees programming.”
The Plus 50 Completion Strategy is funded with a fouryear grant from Lumina Foundation. The grant builds on
the successful Plus 50 Initiative launched by AACC in 2008 and funded at that time by The Atlantic
Philanthropies. Support from The Atlantic Philanthropies augments the current Plus 50 Completion Strategy.
The Plus 50 Initiative at AACC has focused much of its efforts for the last three years on training and retraining
programs to get unemployed older adults back on the job.
Research data support the value of college programs assisting baby boomers. An independent evaluation of
AACC’s Plus 50 Initiative found that 89 percent of students agreed that plus 50 work force training helped
them acquire new job skills and 72 percent attributed landing a job to such training.
Plus 50 Completion Strategy programs at Spoon River College are part of a national effort. Earlier this year,
AACC joined five other national organizations to sign a public commitment to promote the development and
implementation of policies, practices, and institutional cultures that will produce 50 percent more students
with high quality degrees and certificates by 2020.
More information will be shared in the next few months regarding the Completion Strategy project at Spoon
River College.
About AACC
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Association of Community Colleges is the leading advocacy
organization representing close to 1,200 community, junior and technical colleges nationwide. Community
colleges are the largest sector of higher education, enrolling 11.8 million credit and noncredit students each
year. To learn more about the AACC, visit www.aacc.nche.edu.
To learn more about the Plus 50, visit plus50.aacc.nche.edu. To learn more about the AACC and The Lumina
Foundation, visit www.aacc.nche.edu and www.luminafoundation.org