Encore Opportunity Awards: Tackling Challenges with Encore Talent

Lillian Rice, 77, at teaches Native American preschoolers in Minneapolis in the Ojibwe language as part of an immersion program offered through the Alliance of Early Childhood Professionals.

Handypeople and others over age 50 help older adults and disabled persons in Schenectady, New York, stay in their homes by doing chores and driving them to appointments. In the sheriff's departmment in Lawrenceville, Georgia, people in their encore careers make up one-quarter of the sworn and civilian staff, helping to mentor younger employees in addition to their regular work.

These organizations, along with other winners of the 2009 Encore Opportunity Awards announced today, are tackling social challenges with the help of workers over age 50. The awards, sponsored by Civic Ventures and MetLife Foundation, honor employers who make it easier for experienced workers to transition to encore careers.

The eight winners are using encore talent to advance public safety, build low-income housing, teach job skills, protect the environment and more. Six of them are employers who are hiring and retaining people in encore careers as part of their workforce. Two operate programs that help employers find encore career seekers by connecting the supply of encore talent with social purpose work that needs to be done. They are:

  • Alliance of Early Childhood Professionals, Minneapolis - This nonprofit pays Native American "elders" to work with young children to pass along native languages and a sense of culture.
  • Civitan Foundation Inc., Phoenix – Civitan's Caring Connections program engages encore workers as direct caregivers serving people with disabilities.
  • Executive Service Corps of Chicago, Chicago – This organization recruits, trains and places retired nonprofit executives in interim director positions in Chicago-area nonprofits.
  • Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department, Lawrenceville, Georgia – This public safety agency recruits and employs encore workers to fill jobs at all levels.
  • Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter Florida Inc., Eustis, Florida – Half of this organization's staff is over age 50. Habitat provides homes for people living in substandard and overcrowded conditions.
  • National Center for Appropriate Technology, Butte, Montana – Experienced workers help people in six states use environmentally sound, energy-efficient methods in farming.
  • Orleans Technical Institute, a division of JEVS Human Services, Philadelphia – This technical training school employs retirees from the building trades to provide training and individualized support to at-risk students.
  • Umbrella of the Capital District, Schenectady, New York – To help older adults and persons with disabilities live independently in their own homes, this nonprofit recruits 50-plus workers with the appropriate technical skills as "handypeople" for light carpentry, lawn and garden maintenance, house cleaning and transportation to appointments.

In 2007 MetLife Foundation and Civic Ventures first honored nonprofit and public sector employers with what was then called the BreakThrough Awards. The inaugural winners similarly exhibited successful strategies for finding, hiring and maximizing workers over 50.

Read more about the 2009 Encore Opportunity Award winners.

Learn 10 practical strategies to help your organization make the most of encore talent.

Download (PDF) the stories of all eight winners.

Read the press release about the Encore Opportunity Awards that are given by Civic Ventures, with support from the MetLife Foundation.

Access Resources and a List of FAQs about the Encore Opportunity Awards.

Read about the 2007 winners of the BreakThrough Awards.