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Youth-serving organizations can leverage a growing resource: volunteers age 50+

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Youth-serving organizations can leverage a growing resource: volunteers age 50+

By Sarah McKinney, Content Marketing Producer at Encore.org’s Gen2Gen campaign.

 

Diana Amatucci volunteers after school and during the summers at her local Boys and Girls Club in Charlottesville Virginia. A retired teacher, Amatucci knows that kids need more champions in their lives.

“For students who may not get support at home or who may struggle in the larger school setting, getting this one-to-one attention is invaluable,” she says. 

Millions of other adults over 50 have the skills, experience, and desire to influence young lives, transform communities, and strengthen the social fabric of America. 

How are you engaging people 50+ in your afterschool program? 

Encore.org — an innovation tank tapping the talent of the 50+ population as a force for good — launched the Generation to Generation (Gen2Gen) campaign to help. Gen2Gen’s goal: to mobilize one million people over 50 to help kids thrive.

So far, 110 organizations have joined with Gen2Gen — including the Afterschool Alliance, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the National 4-H Council, VolunteerMatch and more.

Gen2Gen welcomes new partners and promotes their work, provides tools and resources to help them recruit older volunteers (including an Opportunity Finder where organizations can list their volunteer opportunities), and provides monthly partner updates to facilitate learning and keep folks in the loop about upcoming activities. 

Older adults are a proven commodity when it comes to helping equip young people for success. One example: AARP Foundation Experience Corps, a tutoring program that helps children who aren’t reading at grade level catch up by the end of third grade. All 2,300 Experience Corps tutors are over 50. They work in 22 cities, serving more than 30,000 students every year. Washington University researchers found that students with Experience Corps tutors achieved 60 percent more progress in reading comprehension than comparable students not in the program. 

Many other youth-serving organizations are now in the process of developing or expanding an intentional strategy to recruit older volunteers. Strive for College, an online mentoring platform aimed at helping high-school students navigate college applications and financial aid, is one.

When Strive first launched in 2010, the organization looked primarily for college-age mentors. But working with Gen2Gen, they’ve recruited hundreds of older adult mentors with the experience and time to make an enormous impact. 

Laura Gilbert, who has now helped eight students apply to college, is eager to pass her experience down, from generation to generation, as others did for her. 

“There were several teachers growing up that were very influential to me because they took time to listen, understand who I was and what my interests were – and then offer a word or suggestion that could help me along the way,” she says. “That’s what I try to do with these students.”

Find out more about Gen2Gen -- including its current effort, Gen2Gen Reads, to engage older adults in helping children struggling to learn to read. Go to iamgen2gen.org

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