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AACC Named Plus 50 Champion College

May 16, 2012

Gearing up to triple the size of a program assisting community colleges and adult learners across the nation is no small task – but the American Association of Community Colleges is getting some extra help from Anne Arundel Community College (AACC).

The national group recently announced the selection of 11 community colleges that will assist in scaling up the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program as it reaches out to 100 colleges and 10,000 additional plus 50 students by 2015. The students will get job training and earn a certificate or degree related to healthcare, education or social services.

Anne Arundel Community College will be a Plus 50 Champion College and deliver a presentation for one conference as part of a planned speaker’s bureau.

These newly designated “Plus 50 Champion Colleges” will help evaluate and support the 100 new Plus 50 Encore Completion colleges as they put in place programs to help baby boomers heading back to school re-train for careers that give back. Several colleges will also participate in a speaker’s bureau designed to distribute broad information to community colleges about how to work with baby boomer students, who bring unique needs and strengths to college campuses.

“Anne Arundel Community College has several large and varied programs for adults over 50,” said Terry D. Portis, Ed.D., director of the AACC Center on Aging. “We are excited about helping other colleges start similar programs on their campuses.”

The other colleges involved in the project are: Cape Cod Community College (Massachusetts), Clark College and Clover Park Technical College (both of Washington), College of Central Florida, LaGuardia Community College (New York), Portland Community College (Oregon), Prince George’s Community College (Maryland), Spoon River College (Illinois), St. Louis Community College (Missouri) and Westchester Community College (New York).

The Plus 50 Champion colleges and speaker’s bureau participants will build on their own experiences from working since 2007 with the tidal wave of baby boomers who turned to community colleges to re-train for new jobs when the economic recession left many unemployed. Each Plus 50 Champion College will work with the new colleges implementing programs. The Plus 50 Champion Colleges and the colleges participating in the speaker’s bureau will receive grants to support their participation.

In May 2012, the national organization will issue a request for proposals asking community colleges to apply to join the Plus 50 Encore College initiative and receive grant funding. AACC received a $3.2 million grant from the Deerbrook Charitable Trust to fund the Plus 50 Encore Completion program on the Arnold campus.

The Plus 50 Encore Completion program supports AACC’s work to increase the number of students who finish degrees, certificates, and other credentials with value in the workplace.  In April 2010, AACC committed – with other higher education organizations -- to promote the development and implementation of policies, practices and institutional cultures that will produce 50 percent more students with high quality degrees and certificates by 2020.

Since 2008, the Plus 50 Initiative at AACC has focused much of its effort on training programs for unemployed older adults. Lumina Foundation currently funds the participation of 18 community colleges in the Plus 50 Completion Strategy, which is helping baby boomers complete degrees or credentials. The national organization’s Plus 50 Initiative began with support from The Atlantic Philanthropies and originally involved 15 colleges, and then expanded to 32 more colleges.