Innovative Ways to Put Encore Talent to Work

As you begin to explore how encore talent can be part of your organization’s human capital strategy, start by considering both well-tested human resource and volunteer management practices, as well as new models that have emerged to take advantage of the growing resource of time, talent and experience of people 50+. 

NEW ROLES, CLEAR IDENTITY: Whether you’re engaging volunteers or paid staff, well-defined roles with clear titles reinforce value for the individual, the organization and the external world. Experienced adults want identity and affiliation to reinforce the value of their work.  

  • Community Health Navigator, Worker and Advocate: Boomers Leading Change in Health engages volunteers to improve health and healthcare access in the Denver region through well-defined volunteer and stipended service roles including healthcare navigators, community health workers and advocates.
  • Success Mentors: One of ReServe’s programs is a collaboration with the New York Mayor’s Interagency Task Force on Truancy and Chronic Absenteeism. It trained and placed teams of ReServists – adult professionals over age 55 — as Success Mentors in middle schools with high dropout risks.

INTERNSHIPS FOR GROWN-UPS: Many experienced adults seek opportunities to put their talent to work while making the transition from midlife career to encore career. Fellowships and internships can fill this role and deliver impact.

  • Encore!Hartford: Encore!Hartford prepares former corporate professionals to transition to nonprofit jobs via two-month, 30-hour-a-week internships that provide hands-on experience in areas of interest.
  • Encore Fellowships Network: Encore Fellowships programs match skilled, experienced professionals with social-purpose organizations in stipended, high-impact assignments that typically last six to 12 months, half- to full-time.

MATCHING SKILLS WITH NEEDS: Making the most of unique encore skills involves assessing and aligning organization needs with individual competencies and interests. Several organizations have invented new ways to do this.

  • Offering Options, Getting Prepared: In Phoenix, Experience Matters works with 50+ adults and nonprofits to leverage encore talent for community needs. Assessment and training are provided for both individuals and nonprofits. Encore opportunities include long- and short-term roles, such as “Service by Design associates,” fellowships and AmeriCorps.
  • Capacity Building: ESC of New England matches highly skilled, pro bono consultants with nonprofit capacity building needs. Program elements include professional development and support for the consultants, and close collaboration with the nonprofits to ensure quality services, accountability, measurable outcomes and low cost.
  • Tapping Unique Experience: As part of the Encore Cleveland initiative, Teach For America is piloting the use of retired teachers as mentors for beginning teachers.

TRAINING AND PREPARATION: Experienced adults bring deep reservoirs of life and work skills to your organization. Augment or reinforce these skills by providing the tools and knowledge to take on new roles and work in new environments.  

  • AARP Foundation Experience Corps: Tutors receive training in literacy tutoring, early childhood education and cultural competency, with additional preparation and support provided by classroom teachers.

  • Encore Leadership Corps (ENCorps): Each year, 250 people participate in training to strengthen their roles as volunteer leaders in Maine. Training focuses on environmental stewardship, grassroots leadership, food security, community development and improving the quality of life for state residents.

BENEFITS OF COMPENSATION: For encore-seekers, compensation reinforces the value of the work, helps to fill income gaps and usually results in a larger time commitment and delivery of more significant impact. For organizations, thinking creatively about compensation can deliver high-value services at attractive, below-market rates.

  • Encore Fellowships Network: Fellows are paid a stipend for the fellowship period, which typically lasts six to 12 months, half to full-time.
  • ReServe: ReServists, professionals age 55+, work on part-time service projects in exchange for a modest hourly stipend that is paid by the employers and managed by the national ReServe program.
  • Vantage Aging: Individuals 50+ provide short-term (3-month minimum) or ongoing part-time work at moderate cost for nonprofits and government agencies in Cuyahoga County, OH.

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Encore Fellowship Innovation: Matt Young and Renee Rhiner, Friends of the Children, Portland, OR

When Friends of the Children needed a new building to serve its mission of mentoring at-risk youth, it found the right talent through an Encore Fellow, Renee Rhiner, who brought 24 years of experience managing building projects for Intel to her new leadership role. 

Mark Young, Executive Director:

“Renee’s work on [our construction project] will last for 75 years.  How’s that for impact?”