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 National Association Expands Effort to Re-educate, Retrain Older Learners 

Baby boomers go back to community college to earn degrees and certificates
5/16/2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Norma Kent
202/728-0200, x209
nkent@aacc.nche.edu


WASHINGTON – For baby boomers who started college and began working toward a degree or certificate but didn’t finish, community colleges are revving up a new grant-funded initiative that will help them reach their dreams. The Plus 50 Completion Strategy, a project of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), has announced selection of11 new colleges to participate in a four-year program aimed to help plus 50 adults finish degrees or certificates.

The 11 new grantee colleges are: Atlantic Cape Community College (Mays Landing, N.J.), Century College (White Bear Lake, Minn.), Hazard Community and Technical College (Hazard, Ky.),  Monroe Community College (Rochester, N.Y.), Northeastern Junior College (Sterling, Colo.), St. Louis Community College (St. Louis, Mo.), Southern Arkansas University Tech (Camden, Ark.), Southwestern Illinois College (Belleville, Ill.), Spoon River College (Canton, Ill.), University of Alaska - Anchorage Community and Technical College (Anchorage, Alaska) and Wiregrass Georgia Technical College (Valdosta, Ga.).

The new grantees join nine community colleges previously announced as participating in the project. Previous selectees include: Cape Cod Community College (West Barnstable, Mass.), Clover Park Technical College (Lakewood, Wash.), College of Central Florida (Ocala, Fla.), Joliet Junior College (Joliet, Ill.), Metropolitan Community College (Kansas City, Mo.), Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (Green Bay, Wis.), Pasco-Hernando Community College (New Port Richey, Fla.), Santa Fe College (Gainesville, Fla.) and Wake Technical Community College (Raleigh, N.C.).

“When minds expand, options do, too. Learning is one of the best ways to stay and feel young, and community colleges are increasingly providing more support and services tailored to meet the needs of older students who want to come back to school,” said Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of AACC.

“If you started a degree or certificate and then stopped, or you are thinking about starting a new course of study, now is a great time to come back to community college,” said Bumphus. “Coming back to college can help you upgrade your skills and make you more competitive in the job market.”

The 20 colleges involved with the initiative will strive to increase the number of students age 50 and up, especially those with some prior college credits, to complete credentials and degrees that will help them get hired. The new completion effort builds on  AACC’s Plus 50 Initiative, which has devoted the last three years to helping colleges improve services and support for baby boomers.

The credentials and degrees baby boomers will earn at the 20 colleges participating in the initiative are needed for the jobs of the future. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that 30 percent of the nation’s fastest-growing occupations will be filled by people who have a postsecondary education credential.

The Plus 50 Completion Strategy is part of a growing completion thrust  among community colleges 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. President Obama and leading foundations have identified community colleges as a key driver in achieving a higher percentage of college-prepared citizens for the nation.

The Plus 50 Completion Strategy is funded with a four-year grant from Lumina Foundation. The grant to AACC is part of a commitment by Lumina Foundation involving 19 organizations working strategically to help adult learners complete college. The Lumina Foundation grant builds on the successful Plus 50 Initiative launched by AACC in 2008 and funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies. Support from The Atlantic Philanthropies augments the new Plus 50 Completion Initiative.

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About AACC Plus 50 Initiative
Launched in 2008, the AACC Plus 50 Initiative was a three-year pilot funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies. Thirteen pilot community colleges, eight affiliate colleges, and peer-to-peer outreach between 20 colleges have developed or expanded plus 50 programs over the last three years. Colleges have focused on providing plus 50 students with workforce training and development, learning and enrichment programs and volunteering opportunities. To learn more about AACC Plus 50 Initiative, visit http://plus50.aacc.nche.edu.

About AACC
The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) is a national association representing close to 1,200 community, junior and technical colleges nationwide. Community colleges are the largest and fastest-growing sector of higher education, serving close to 12 million students each year. AACC is headquartered in Washington, D.C. To learn more about AACC, visit www.aacc.nche.edu.

About Lumina Foundation
Lumina Foundation, an Indianapolis-based private foundation, is committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college—especially 21st century students: low-income students, students of color, first-generation students and adult learners.  Lumina’s goal is to increase the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025.  Lumina pursues this goal in three ways: by identifying and supporting effective practice, through public policy advocacy, and by using our communications and convening power to build public will for change. For more information, log on to www.luminafoundation.org.

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