Boomers make up the largest, healthiest, best-educated population of Americans. Those on the leading edge of the generation are pioneers in a new stage spanning the decades between middle and late life.

Neither young nor old, they represent an extraordinary resource.

Millions of them are determined to apply their experience to make a difference for others. Some are able to do so as unpaid volunteers. But most are looking to combine aspects of work – income and benefits – with elements of service through encore careers.

Such careers combine social impact, personal fulfillment and continued income – purpose, passion and a paycheck – enabling people to put their experience to work for the greater good.

The Potential

The number of Americans 55 and over will grow to 112 million in 2030, according to U.S. Census figures. That’s up from 76 million today. Americans are living longer and feeling younger.

Unleashing this vast potential requires fresh attitudes, policies and practices that welcome the contributions of boomers who want work with meaning, boomers who want to create a world that’s better than the one they were given.

Encore.org has set out to define this new stage of life and work – and to change policies and create new institutions that will help millions make the transition.

Too often, boomers find themselves managing this transition on their own, with few guideposts, little support and roadblocks at every turn. So this massive group of Americans represents a largely untapped resource in a nation with many unmet needs.

The Numbers

People who plan to continue working say it is important that the work gives them a sense of purpose, keeps them involved with people and helps them improve the quality of life in their communities.

Half of Americans ages 50 to 70 want jobs that contribute to the greater good. As many as 9 million people ages 44 to 70 are in encore careers – and 31 million more are interested in their own encores.

The Future

There is great – and growing – potential for boomers seeking encore careers.

As surprising as it sounds, research from MetLife Foundation and Encore.org projects there will be more jobs than people to fill them by 2018. The research suggests those 55 and older have the skills and experience to help solve serious problems and to bridge critical labor gaps in education, health care and the green economy.

Encore.org aims to help form distinct pathways to encore careers through several programs. At a time when there are so many critical problems in our education and health care systems, in our government, in our environment and on our streets, we can’t afford to let experience go to waste.