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STLCC Chosen for National Plus 50 Initiative

May 14, 2008

As 78 million baby boomers approach retirement, their attention is turning to staying active and refocusing their careers. St. Louis Community College has been chosen to participate in a new three-year program sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) that will help them define life after 50.


The AACC Plus 50 Initiative will develop and benchmark models for innovative programs reaching out to students over age 50. STLCC was selected as one of 10 demonstration colleges that will participate in this initiative. The project is funded with a $3.2 million grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies. STLCC will receive $40,000 over three years for the initiative.


STLCC will establish and pilot workshops on four campuses that will help plus-50 students who see retirement looming ahead of them, but are unsure about how to make this next phase of their lives all they hope it can be. Travel study tours, art classes and many other topics, offered in a format for non-degree seeking students, will enable baby boomers to reconnect with interests they may have set aside decades before while raising children and working.


The 10 demonstration colleges will be aided by five mentor colleges that already have established programs for students over age 50.


According to Civic Ventures, a California-based think tank that focuses on engaging baby boomers, today’s boomers see their lives after 50 as a melding of education, employment and leisure, with four out of five people over 50 saying they plan to work at least part time in retirement. But 62 percent of the boomer generation wishes they were better prepared for retirement, according to a 2006 MetLife study.


Community colleges are ideally suited to help baby boomers determine how to make their bonus years productive and fulfilling. These institutions have long catered to the needs of nontraditional students, with 16 percent of their student population over age 40 and their average student age capping well above traditional four-year colleges at 29 years.


Approximately 5 million of the 11.5 million community college students today are not pursuing traditional degree programs. Instead, they are opting for certificates, training classes and exploratory programs because community colleges offer easy access, flexible scheduling and shorter-term learning experiences.


For 88 years, the American Association of Community Colleges has been the leading advocate for the nation’s community colleges, which currently number more than 1,125 and annually serve more than 12 million students.