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HHS and National Service Team Up to Increase Volunteering Among Baby Boomers and Older Americans

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Atlanta – Recognizing the extraordinary potential for social good among baby boomers and older Americans, the Corporation for National and Community Service and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Administration on Aging (AoA) yesterday unveiled a multi-year partnership to engage baby boomers and older adults in addressing the needs of vulnerable populations through volunteer service

HHS Assistant Secretary for Aging Josefina G. Carbonell joined Corporation for National and Community Service CEO David Eisner in announcing the landmark partnership before an audience of 1,500 Senior Corps project directors and sponsors attending the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in Atlanta.

“Volunteers, many from AoA’s national aging services network of state, tribal and community organizations, play a critical role in helping older Americans remain at home and in the community, which is what they prefer,”  Carbonell said. “This partnership supports the Bush Administration’s efforts to modernize long-term care in our country, and it will set the stage for a major expansion of public and private initiatives that engage older volunteers and baby boomers in strengthening local community programs, particularly those serving older persons.”

“Americans over 55 are an untapped resource of extraordinary proportions, and they can leave an incredible legacy through service to others," said Eisner.  “They bring a lifetime of skills and experience that can be channeled into tackling some of America’s toughest problems of poverty, illiteracy, health care, and independent living.  We’re thrilled with this new partnership that will fuel innovative and scaleable models for unleashing the civic power of older Americans to serve our most vulnerable populations."

The partnership is a result of the 2006 reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, which called for the Administration on Aging and the Corporation to collaborate on strategies to increase volunteering and civic engagement among older adults.  The new initiative builds on previous efforts between the two federal agencies, including the 2005 White House Conference on Aging, when delegates adopted a resolution in support of a national strategy for promoting civic engagement and volunteering for current and future seniors.

The core of the partnership is a grant from the Administration on Aging to the National Council on Aging (NCOA) of $1 million per year for up to three years. NCOA will provide subgrants and technical assistance to 24 model programs for engaging adults over the age of 55 in increasing the capacity of nonprofits to serve vulnerable populations.  Grantees will engage older adults in service and civic engagement projects aimed at increasing the number and types of services to frail elders, families of children with special needs, grandparents raising grandchildren and other vulnerable populations. 

To help these 24 organizations manage volunteers and develop sustainable projects, the Corporation for National and Community Service will make available up to 48 AmeriCorps VISTA members, two per organization.  VISTA’s are full-time year-long AmeriCorps members with a special focus on capacity building for organizations that serve low-income people and communities.  The Corporation will also provide research and evaluation resources and services, as well as help in identifying key partners.

The initiative will include training and evaluation to help the grantees demonstrate results and be ready for replication upon completion of the grant funding period. The funding of promising programs is part of a larger effort to help the nonprofit sector better recognize the value of older volunteers and develop strategies to engage the coming wave of baby boomers, who are beginning to approach retirement age and have different expectations for their volunteer experience.    

A Corporation study released last March, Keeping Baby Boomers Volunteering, found that baby boomers want higher-skill assignments to keep them engaged, and it advised nonprofit organizations to re-imagine roles for that emerging crop of volunteers.  Boomers also want more flexibility in their assignments, and want to know their service is having a demonstrable impact. 

As part of its five-year Strategic Plan, the Corporation has set a national goal of engaging an additional 3 million baby boomers in volunteering, up from 25.8 million in 2005.  The Corporation has advanced this goal on a number of fronts including its grantmaking; training and technical assistance; technology systems including last year’s launch of a cutting-edge Web-based volunteer recruitment service designed by VolunteerMatch;  campaigns to engage more Boomers in service, including the “Get Involved” campaign launched at the 2005 White House Conference on Aging and new marketing materials for Senior Corps including new logos and taglines for RSVP, Foster Grandparents, and Senior Companions shared with Senior Corps leaders at their plenary session yesterday.

Background:

Volunteers are the backbone of programs administered under the Older Americans Act and play a critical role in efforts to modernize long-term care services in communities across the United States. The Older Americans Act Amendments of 2006 call for greater coordination and increased focus on volunteerism and civic engagement. For more information about the U.S. Administration on Aging and the Older Americans Act, visit http://www.aoa.gov

The Corporation for National and Community Service engages more than four million Americans of all ages and backgrounds in service to meet local needs through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs. For more information, visit www.NationalService.gov.

The National Conference on Volunteering and Service, co-convened by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Points of Light & Hands On Network is the world's largest annual gathering of volunteer and service leaders. For more information, visit www.volunteeringandservice.org.

Memorandum of Understanding


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Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.