Concordia University Chicago receives an AARP Foundation grant

AARP Foundation has awarded a grant to Concordia University Chicago’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Center for Gerontology to conduct Work for Yourself@50+℠ workshops in Oak Park/River Forest and the Chicagoland area. This national grant initiative is designed to help vulnerable older adults assess opportunities for self-employment, build skills, and connect with resources that will enable them to generate income by working for themselves. Concordia University Chicago is among 32 community-based organizations selected to receive funds to assist older adults.

CUC is one of the few educational institutions in the country to have dedicated community outreach centers in the fields of both gerontology and entrepreneurship. The Work for Yourself@50+ program will allow CUC to address the pressing need for entrepreneurship education for older adults in the region.

“For many older adults, self-employment and business ownership is an opportunity to change their future,” said Emily Allen, senior vice president for AARP Foundation Programs. “AARP Foundation is proud to work with organizations like Concordia University Chicago that are committed to helping older adults successfully run their own business. Our Work for Yourself@50+ program is designed to enable older adults to pursue self-employment by connecting them with trustworthy resources in their own communities.”

“Concordia University Chicago’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is pleased to have this opportunity to partner with the Center for Gerontology and the AARP Foundation to provide these free, highly beneficial entrepreneurship workshops to the Oak Park/River Forest and surrounding communities, where 28 to 40 percent of our residents are aged 50 and older. People 55 to 65 are the only age group with rising rates of entrepreneurship, and twice as many successful entrepreneurs are over 50 than under 25,” stated Dr. Claudia Santin, dean of CUC’s College of Business.

Through a nationwide open request for proposals, AARP Foundation, with support from The Hartford, identified and selected promising organizations in high-need communities to receive grant awards and implement the Work for Yourself@50+ workshop model. The workshops help adults 50 and older understand the pros and cons of self-employment and support them through the early steps that can lead to success.

Concordia University Chicago’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Center for Gerontology are jointly hosting their first free Work for Yourself@50+ workshop on the Concordia-Chicago campus (7400 Augusta Street, River Forest, IL, Christopher Center, Room 200) on Monday, July 31, from 6 to 8 p.m. Call 888-339-5617 to register. For additional information, visit aarpfoundation.org/workforyourself.

“The Hartford is excited to work together with AARP Foundation on the Work for Yourself@50+ program, empowering mature adults to build on their potential and to prevail as independent entrepreneurs,” said Diane Cantello, head of Corporate Sustainability for The Hartford. “Self-employment creates small businesses that contribute to the stability and vitality of their local communities.”

Working with AARP Foundation, each grantee will put together a plan in its community to:

  • Publicize Work for Yourself@50+ resources and workshops to potential entrepreneurs;
  • Host and facilitate a 90-minute introductory workshop, designed by AARP Foundation, to walk participants through the Work for Yourself@50+materials; and
  • Connect program participants with local, accessible resources to help them take action on their income-generation plans.

In addition to receiving grant funds, grantees will also participate in a community of practice and regular assessment to help build a body of knowledge about effective older-adult services and programs.

Creating and owning a business has long been heralded as a path to financial success and economic mobility; low-income older adults, however, face unique hurdles when re-entering the workforce in a nontraditional capacity. AARP Foundation’s and The Hartford’s investment in these grantees seeks to improve the lives of vulnerable populations by supporting and advancing effective solutions.

To learn more about the Work for Yourself@50+ initiative, please visit aarpfoundation.org/workforyourself or call 888-339-5617 to receive a free toolkit and sign up for a local workshop.

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