Grant Leads to Training for Over-50 Workers

During the 2010-2011 academic year, Atlantic Cape Community College set the wheels in motion for an exciting project to help people over 50 reinvent themselves to transition to "encore" careers, thanks to the college's acquisition of the Deerbrook Charitable Trust-Civic Ventures Encore Grant.

The $25,000 grant, which was to be administered through Atlantic Cape's Continuing Education department during the fall of 2011, was earmarked for the development of a curriculum to help retrain those 50 and older with prior experience in certain fields for careers in adult basic education.

Preparing for Encore Careers

More specifically, the program would prepare participants to become instructors of health care professions, English as a second language and adult basic education.

"The participants were to be trained as instructors in subjects in which they already had a knowledge base," said project manager Sherwood Taylor, Director, Institute for Service Excellence and Continuing Education Marketing. "One participant was a photographer who had a long-time interest in teaching adults. Some others were K-12 teachers who had lost their jobs and wanted to teach adults."

At the end of the one-year grant period, the project provided Atlantic Cape with the resources to develop a 60-hour program of intensive classroom and online training to enable them to effectively teach adult learners. Training was to focus on:

  • Instructional technology
  • Adult learning theory
  • Course development
  • Classroom management.

The grant monies were not earmarked for the cost of training. Rather, this was to be applied to the development of a curriculum for a sustainable program, with fee-based classes to remain available on an ongoing basis after the grant period's end. Fifteen participants aged 50 plus took part in a demonstration class to review and refine the curriculum.

Building a Sustainable Program

Due to the long-time economic downturn, steadily escalating unemployment and the number of older displaced workers who need to continue to work, the availability and sustainability of such educational programs is crucial.

The region surrounding Atlantic Cape also presents a need and wide variety of opportunities for such workers.

For one, there are many regional institutions and businesses that require outside instructors including:

  • Community colleges
  • Vocational and technical schools
  • Libraries that host community classes and enrichment programs
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Private-sector training sites such as wellness and fitness centers

And because of its natural beauty and nearness to casinos, marine recreation and excellent health care providers, the Atlantic coastal region is one of the nation's fastest growing retirement destinations. In fact, 35 percent of the population of Atlantic and Cape May counties is aged 50 or older.

A Win-Win Outcome

The program was deemed a win-win for everyone, and student feedback was positive.

"Strategies for the Adult Learners was a fantastic experience for me," said photographer Michael Martin, one of the students who took the demo class. "Not only did it educate me in the various methods for teaching adults, it taught me to be innovative with my subject matter."

Nationwide, 15 colleges were selected to receive a Deerbrook Charitable Trust-Civic Ventures Encore grant. Atlantic Cape was the only New Jersey recipient.