Is it Time for Your Encore?
By Leah Lancione
Encore.org is a nonprofit organization (www.encore.org) established in 1998 by social entrepreneur and author Marc Freedman to help folks “between the end of midlife and anything resembling old-fashioned retirement” to discover a new chapter or calling—one that entails “making contributions for ourselves, our world, for the well-being of future generations.” These second “acts for the greater good” are defined by self-proclaimed encore “students, employers or entrepreneurs;” whichever label fits. Whatever the desired new career, the goal is to “combine personal fulfillment, social impact and continued income” by helping people put their passion to work.
While it does publish job listings, Encore.org is not a job placement service so much as it is “a network that provides free, comprehensive information to help baby boomers transition to jobs in the nonprofit world and public sector.” Encore.org offers individuals a program portfolio and strategic alliances to facilitate careers in fields ranging from education to the environment and health care. The advice, resources and connections enable retirees to pursue personal and professional fulfillment as well as financial security through encore monetary prizes, fellowships, college initiatives and training programs at schools across the country, as well as awards for employers that hire Encore members. A “Launch Pad” award even presents $5,000 to budding social entrepreneurs 45 and older to begin a career aimed at addressing a critical social problem in their community.
The Launch Pad contest was initiated in 2011 when more than 1,000 entered. More than 30,000 votes were cast for the 25 finalists with the top five each taking home $5,000 to help them start their dream career. The winners’ new career paths included training corporate salespeople in nonprofit fundraising, a cancer support group for Chinese speakers, developing entrepreneurial training for Native American youths, helping local farmers make sunflower oil biofuel and providing services to homeless youths. The majority of Encore jobs fall into five categories: education, health care, the environment, government and nonprofits.
A “Get Started Guide” leads interested entrepreneurs in the right direction regarding job hunting, updating job skills and resumes, transitioning from a corporate position to volunteer or nonprofit work, preparing for a potential salary change and explicit tips for breaking into specific fields. Funded by MetLife Foundation and published by Encore.org, the guide also shares success stories and expert tips.
In addition to expert advice on helping people discover their true calling and how to finance it, resources include job training, book recommendations and links to useful websites. There is also an online community (through a registered membership) with more than 200 members that features discussion groups by state and common interests and a free e-newsletter. Blogs also provide constructive information on a variety of topics and practical job solutions. An entire portal devoted to research and surveys on job statistics as well as efforts to establish policy for those who want to embark on social-issue careers in the second half of their life.
For a more exhaustive look at Encore.org join the organization’s guided tour at www.encore.org/welcome-encore.orghttp://www.encore.org/learn If you are new to the retirement scene or you’re an old pro who’s volunteered for years and now want to turn it into something more, consider exploring Encore.org as a facilitator of your “second act for the greater good.”