This month I’m spotlighting two leading higher education encore programs: the University of Connecticut’s nonprofit workforce development program, Encore!Connecticut, and the University of Washington Retiree Association’s Encore program. Each empowers experienced adults to contribute to their community in new ways and helps to age-integrate local social sector organizations.

Encore!Connecticut leverages its nonprofit network to develop and deploy encore talent. The UW program leverages connections within the university to keep retired staff and faculty engaged with UW and its community volunteer activities.

Encore!Connecticut, founded in 2010 by Dr. David Garvey and Linda Friedman, is part of UConn’s Department of Public Policy. Building on the Department’s deep nonprofit connections, Encore!Connecticut prepares participants from the private sector to transition to paying nonprofit jobs.

Encore!Hartford 2016 graduates

Its three-month program offers a mix of practitioner-led classroom learning, a two month internship and networking with nonprofit executives. Students connect with more than 100 nonprofit executives, giving them an up-close view of the work, the jobs and the workplaces where the organizations pursue their missions. Workforce development funds and grants cover tuition for some students; others pay for the transition support.

The program’s 190 graduates have an excellent track record. More than 90 work in nonprofits and others use their skills as consultants.  Success stories include:

  • A lawyer and amateur musician who now leads fundraising for the Hartford Symphony
  • Roy Mainelli, an aerospace executive who created a training/job placement program moving formerly homeless people into living wage aerospace jobs. Meet Ray here.
  • A food industry sales executive who joined the development staff of a food justice nonprofit.

After six cohorts in its Hartford hometown, the program added a second site in downstate Fairfield County. Partners include AARP, Greater Hartford Leadership, United Way, CT Department of Labor, CT Community Nonprofit Alliance, Jewish Family Services, Hartford’s workforce development board, the Fairfield Community Foundation, Social Venture Partners, Regional Youth Adult Social Action Partnership and the Workplace Place.

Dave and Linda are tireless advocates of encore talent who played key roles in developing the Encore Talent Works toolkit.  That content is informing the creation of encore training modules for the state’s umbrella nonprofit organization, the Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance.

Contact Linda Friedman here.

At the University of Washington, Retiree Association Executive Director Pat Dougherty recognized the value of longterm staff and faculty to the University and the community service programs it supports. In 2013 she began developing the UW Encore program to offer transition support and opportunities for retirees to use their talents to benefit the UW community and others in Seattle. Encore Career Specialist Kevin Cavanagh has been part of the team since 2015.

Retiree support includes popular semi-annual transition workshops and an online self-inventory, community inventory (what are the needs and how you can help) and resource links. Many turn to volunteering as a path to meaning. A 2017 UWRA survey revealed that more than half of the respondents had volunteered in their communities and 26% had volunteered at a UW campus.

The website’s Opportunities to Make a Difference listing offers an enticing list of UW projects, from Seattle-area tutoring and pre-college admissions workshops to the on-campus food pantry, botanical garden and English conversation practice. It also links to other local volunteer programs that welcome experienced adults.

UW retirees have embraced the encore program. They’re expanding the capacity of mentoring programs, making a one-year commitment rather than students’ one semester commitment.  They enrich the Husky Leadership Program (student service work) by helping students reflect on their experience and the skills they’re learning. UW’s Undergraduate Research Program has engaged retirees as well, inviting them to share career experiences and advice with student groups.

Learn more about the program here and contact Pat or Kevin here.

The University of Washington Retirement Association is a member of the Association of Retiree Organizations in Higher Education (AROHE, also a Network member). The 100 organization members of this national nonprofit champion transformative practices to support all stages of faculty and staff retirement, their mutually beneficial engagement and continuing contributions to their academic institutions.

Check out AROHE’s membership list here. We hope the UW example will inspire other retiree associations to connect their members with on- and off-campus volunteer opportunities, and additional organizations to join.

Encore transition programs are another valuable higher ed offering, with ongoing programs at the University of Minnesota, Hamline University (St. Paul MN) and Union Theological Seminary, and new programs launching this fall at Notre Dame University and the University of Texas.

Published: May 31, 2018