Research and Publications

Nearly three years ago, nine youth-serving nonprofits -- all members of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities -- hired a diverse group of professionals over 50. They dubbed them Second Acts Fellows and tasked them with recruiting a new and growing source of talent -- people over 50 -- to improve the lives of the children and youth they serve. Today, a new report released by’s Gen2Gen campaign concludes that the strategy of employing fellows over 50 to help nonprofits tap encore talent “holds enormous potential” to change lives, organizations, even attitudes about older workers themselves.
When Mary Gunn took over as the new executive director of Generations Incorporated -- a Boston-area nonprofit working to strengthen the literacy skills of young children by engaging people over the age of 50 as volunteer literacy tutors -- her first impression was a powerful one. “I was struck by how young the staff was,” she writes. “I was easily 25 years older than the next oldest person in the room.” Her second impression: “All my colleagues were bright, hard-working and passionate about our mission. I was lucky to be among them, even if I was old enough to be their mother.” In the years since, Generations Incorporated has: built a multigenerational team reduced turnover expanded the size of its volunteer corps by 40 percent increased the number of children it serves by 75 percent improved reading outcomes, and decreased its operating budget by 12.5 percent. All at the same time. You can read about how they did it and what they learned along the way in a new case study “Efficiencies on the Road to a Multigenerational Workforce,” written by Gunn and published by
This paper will examine the meaningful roles that adults 50+ can play to help improve the quality of childcare for young children 0-5. It will show that intergenerational approaches to child care have the potential to create brighter futures for currently underserved youth; benefit older adults seeking purpose, income and connection; and unlock doors to economic prosperity for small business owners (mostly low-income women of color) currently running home-based and family childcare centers.
Aging and racial diversity – the two great demographic dramas at the root of much of today’s political divisiveness – can also become sources of economic vitality and national renewal, according to a new essay by Senior Fellow, author and former Washington Post reporter Paul Taylor.
Topline results on interest in encore entrepreneurship from the 2011 Encore Careers Survey.
Jim Emerman reflects on the future of purposeful aging
In June 2014, the Stanford Center on Longevity, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation joined together to convene the “Pass it On” conference of national experts, to explore how experienced adults can play critical roles in the lives of our children and youth, and to elevate generativity as a norm for the second half of life. This monograph builds on the key recommendations that emerged from the “Pass it On” conference to propose practical strategies for engaging encore talent to meet the needs of youth. It explains what organizations and communities can do, and encourages leaders and individuals alike to support and join efforts to mobilize experienced adults to work with children and youth. Two demographics — children in need of support and adults with the time and inclination to step into roles that provide it — fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
Generation War? In a year awash in political, racial and economic polarization, a nationwide survey by has found that the American public values the interdependence of younger and older generations.
To better understand how Encore Fellows deliver impact in the organizations in which they serve (usually 1000 hours over a one-year period in stipended roles to improve organizational capacity, Jacquelyn James, Co-director of the Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, interviewed fellows, executive directors and other key staff at three organizations across the U.S. that worked on issues advancing the needs of children and youth. The study highlights commonalities among these three organizations in how both fellows and the nonprofit leadership approached the fellowship, with exceptional impact for the organizations and fellows alike.
National service for encore-stage adults is a robust (and replenishing) human resource that can improve lives, communities and society, according to Shirley Sagawa and John Bridgeland, Service Year Alliance President/CEO and Vice-Chairman, respectively.
In 2015 and six study partners surveyed nonprofit organizations that had used people in encore roles and asked about the kinds of impact they had observed and the personal characteristics of the individuals that might have contributed to that impact. The results - from volunteers to stipended roles, people in encores deliver unexpected types of impact across the board.
Research trendlines since 2008 show broad appeal, rising interest and diminishing worries about the coming decades among people in midlife, according to national research by and Penn Schoen Berland.’s 2014 research shows that college-educated encore-seekers are eager for higher-ed opportunities to support their transition to encore roles.
How can the skills and experience of encore talent be mobilized to support vulnerable youth? The full proceedings from Stanford’s Pass It On conference offers compelling ideas and concrete strategies for change.
This Executive Action Report from The Conference Board and shares new research on what companies are doing to support retiree transitions to next acts including encore careers. This publication is jointly sponsored by The Conference Board and Please visit The Conference Board website at for more information or to download a copy of this report. You […]