Experience After School

June 1, 2004

Experience Corps | 1
High quality after-school programs serve a critical need in today?s society. They support working
families, improve students? academic performance, boost children?s social and problemsolving
skills, increase school attendance and graduation rates, and, according to a survey of
police chiefs, are the most e ective way to reduce juvenile crime. And more kids need them
every day.
As we nd the funds and the facilities to meet the need for more high quality after-school
programs, people will turn to the human resource side of the equation. Who will we nd to
sta these programs?
In two words, older adults. Older adults are our nation?s only growing natural resource. The
need for sta ng and volunteers in after-school programs o ers a great opportunity to tap that
resource, to begin to see that the aging of America represents enormous potential for good.
I?m biased, of course. As a leader of Experience Corps, I have the chance to see older adults in
action in after-school settings. I see their commitment to children, education, and community.
I see their patience and drive, their talents and character, their desire to give back and their
need to pass on their lifetime of experience. I see the potential of older adults to make a great
contribution to the after-school world.
This publication is designed to help you see that potential, too. The tool kit is a practical,
hands-on resource for providers of after-school services who are interested in older adults as
volunteers or sta , and for senior service organizations interested in partnering with afterschool
programs. I encourage you to read it, talk about it, and copy from it (with proper attribution).
Most important, I encourage you to think about how you can develop and enhance
meaningful roles for older adults in after-school programs in your community.
There?s a wave coming. Catch it!
John S. Gomperts, CEO
Experience Corps
2 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Civic Ventures and Experience Corps are grateful to the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation for
funding the research, writing, meetings, and technical assistance that ultimately led to this tool
kit. We would like to thank our program o cer, An-Me Chung, for her support of our e orts.
More information about the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and its signi cant long-term
investment in after-school programs and networks across the country is available at
We would also like to thank Richard P. Adler, whose report is included in the tool kit, and
whose consistent interest in this project was instrumental to its success; Carol T. Everett, who
provided signi cant writing and editing assistance for the nal product; and Experience Corps
program directors Ann Birnbaum (DC), Eunice Lin Nichols (San Francisco), Mary O?Donnell
(Boston), and Judith Simmons (Kansas City) for providing sample materials and thoughtful
comments for inclusion in this publication.
Photos by Alex Harris?
Design by Cutting Edge Design
Edited by Michelle E. Hynes and Stefanie Weiss
Questions or comments? Contact Michelle Hynes, director of programs, at
? Civic Ventures 2004
Experience Corps | 3
Table of Contents
Executive Summary ............................................................................................5
Why Older Americans? The Opportunity ...............................................................8
The Demographics: A Fact Sheet on Aging in America .......................................10
Creating After-School Programs that Tap the Resource of Older Adults ................15
Designing Successful Programs the Experience Corps Way .............................16
Creating Roles for Older Adults in After-School Programs .............................18
Designing Great Recruitment Plans ...................................................................21
Finding Recruitment Partners ............................................................................23
Mastering the Message for Recruiting Older Adults .........................................26
Tackling the Tactics for Recruiting Older Adults ..............................................30
Supporting and Retaining Older Adults .............................................................33
Figuring Out the Dollars and Cents ...................................................................35
Evaluating the Experience: What Difference Does It Make? ............................37
Resources: Sample Materials from Experience Corps Projects ............................39
Position Descriptions .........................................................................................40
Recruitment Fliers .............................................................................................43
Volunteer Application ........................................................................................49
Volunteer Screening Interview Form ................................................................52
Volunteer Interview Summary Form .................................................................54
Code of Conduct ................................................................................................56
Volunteer Service Contract ................................................................................57
Mentor/Mentee Agreement Form ......................................................................59
Staff Training Agenda ........................................................................................60
Pre-Service Training Agendas ...........................................................................62
In-Service Training Agenda ...............................................................................65
Training Activity Evaluation ..............................................................................66
Newsletter ..........................................................................................................68
Evaluation: Tutoring Performance Review ........................................................70
Evaluation: AmeriCorps/Experience Corps Member Survey ............................71
Exit Interview ....................................................................................................73
4 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
A Note about Sources and Resources
This tool kit draws on promising practices gathered from four Experience Corps projects working
in after-school settings, information about Experience Corps and related after-school or senior
service e orts, and social marketing research about e ectively recruiting and engaging older adults
in service. Information was gathered over a period of two years, from 2002-2004. The four projects
described here have grown considerably since the tool kit research began.
The Seniors for Schools E ective Practices Guidebook, published by the Corporation for National &
Community Service in April 2000, served as an important source of information about recruiting,
training, and retaining older volunteers. Seniors for Schools was a national demonstration initiative
modeled on Experience Corps, and eight of the nine sites that participated are currently part
of the Experience Corps national network. Another key source was the social marketing research
that Margaret Mark and Marvin Waldman conducted on behalf of Civic Ventures, including the
report Recasting Retirement: New Perspectives on Aging and Civic Engagement.
Each section of the tool kit includes suggested links to further information. These do not constitute
an exhaustive bibliography, but rather a quick way to help you learn more about areas of
particular interest. In addition?the report authored by Richard Adler includes a reference list of
its own if you are interested in further research.
Please feel free to copy any material here, with attribution to Experience Corps. For additional
distribution, all materials included here can be found on the Experience Corps web site at
Experience Corps | 5
Executive Summary
Numerous programs exist across the country?in schools, community organizations,
recreation centers, churches, libraries, and other neighborhood sites?that provide
a safe place for children to learn and play during after-school hours. Likewise, many
national, state, and local programs exist to engage older and/or retired individuals in
service to their communities?Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), Foster
Grandparents, Senior Companions, or Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)
just to name a few. To date, however, few resources have explored how these two types
of programs might join forces or examined how to tap older adults as a resource to
meet the enormous need for more capacity in after-school programs.
It?s a perfect time to begin thinking about how to bring older adults and after-school
programs together.
America?s older population is about to expand dramatically as a result of the
aging of the Baby Boomers. The 55+ population will almost double between
now and 2030, while the number of Americans 65 and older will more than
This rapidly growing older population represents an untapped social asset
that, if properly directed, has the potential to alleviate some of society?s most
signi cant problems. Currently, nearly half of all Americans age 55 and over
volunteer at some point during each year. As a whole, 27.5 million Americans
over the age of 55 are providing a total of 7.5 billion hours in volunteer time
annually. (See The Demographics: A Fact Sheet on Aging in America, page 10.)
Participating in after-school programs is an appealing option for older adults.
?Working with children and youth? was the top choice of volunteer options in
a national survey of older adults. ?Education/tutoring? was the most popular
volunteering option in a survey of AARP members in New York. After-school
settings give older adults a unique window into community needs and o er
them exible opportunities for intergenerational interaction.
Experience Corps illustrates a variety of roles in which older adults can
work successfully with youth after school. Since 1995, Experience Corps has
been recruiting older adults to work with young students. Four of the 12 cities
in which Experience Corps operates involve older volunteers in after-school
programs (Boston, Washington, DC, Kansas City, and San Francisco). The older
volunteers serve as reading coaches, literacy tutors, mentors, homework helpers,
and leaders of enrichment activities. Some older volunteers take on part-time
sta positions or assume other leadership roles.
6 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
An Experience Corps after-school program conforms to a research-based
model and distinct approach that engages older adults in teams of their peers
to provide intensive, purposeful service to young people. The program design
is based on research and best practice drawn from the elds of national service,
e ective tutoring, adult learning and healthy aging. At various stages in its development,
the program model has been studied and commended by researchers
from Public/Private Ventures, American Institutes for Research, Temple
University?s Center for Intergenerational Learning, Johns Hopkins University?s
Center on Aging, and the University of Virginia?s Reading Center. (See recent
research by Dr. Linda Fried of Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, published in
the Journal of Urban Health, at http://jurban.oupjournals.org.)
Peer-to-peer contacts and word-of-mouth are valuable recruiting strategies.
Established after-school programs report the best way to nd older volunteers
is through word of mouth, using current volunteers as spokespeople. Other
important channels for reaching older adults include community newspapers,
local fairs and festivals, and meetings of local civic organizations. Anywhere that
older adults gather or visit?public libraries, neighborhood association meetings,
senior centers, active retirement communities, religious organizations,
even the bulletin board at a local co ee shop or pharmacy?can be excellent
sources for older volunteers.
A good volunteer recruitment strategy must be matched with a good volunteer
retention strategy. First and foremost, this means providing e ective training
both before and during service. Program leaders recommend designing training
modules that use role-playing, draw on older adults? accumulated knowledge
and experience, set realistic expectations about impact on children, and
reassure older adults they can cope with the concerns and behavior of today?s
youth. Other important ways to support older volunteers? Provide them with
opportunities for personal growth and social connection, schedule periodic ?job
reviews,? and devise a variety of methods for letting them know they?re valued
and appreciated.
After-school programs based on the Experience Corps model range in cost
depending on the number of volunteers, service sites, children, and local
activities. A new program with 30-50 volunteers could be established within an
existing organization for about $125,000 per year, with the biggest budget items
being personnel and volunteer costs in the form of stipends and out-of-pocket
costs for transportation. (To put this number in perspective, 30 volunteers serving
150 children per week for 40 weeks each year works out to a per child cost
of about $20 per week.) Program managers should be sure to allocate adequate
resources for recruiting, training and recognizing volunteers as well as for
program evaluation.
Experience Corps | 7
Funding for after-school programs engaging older adults can come from a
variety of public and private sources, including businesses, individuals, foundations,
and federal/state/local government. Many of the current Experience
Corps projects participate in AmeriCorps, or utilize VISTAs for a portion of
their sta ng. Several also receive small grants from city or state government.
Annual fees from participating schools provide another source of funding. Local
businesses provide both cash and in-kind support. Older adults are a valuable,
cost-e ective resource for after-school programs; those who volunteer are also
engaged citizens and aware consumers. E ectively recruiting and retaining older
adults in after-school roles, therefore, can help you connect with a variety of
local funding sources.
This tool kit is designed to help existing after-school programs and senior service programs
learn more about how older adults can be a valuable resource for after-school
programs; what program features, messages, and recruitment strategies are attractive
to and e ective with older adult volunteers; and what keeps older adults engaged and
interested in after-school service opportunities.
The kit includes actual sample materials from four Experience Corps after-school
projects located in Boston, Washington DC, Kansas City, and San Francisco.
For more information about Experience Corps, please visit our web site at
www.experiencecorps.org. If you have questions or comments, please contact us at
8 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Why Older Americans? The Opportunity
?Older adults bring a wonderful calmness and wisdom to their relationships with the students.
There?s just an ease about them. Faced with situations that might frustrate younger adults, older
adults bring patience and a different perspective to the work they?re doing. I think this comes from
their life experience.?
?Ann Gardner Birnbaum, Director, Experience Corps Washington, DC
Older Americans today are healthier, better educated, more active, and more numerous
than ever before. Because there is an overwhelming need for caring adults to
work with children in the after-school hours, increasing volunteerism among older
adults represents a special opportunity to support young people?s academic and social
Older Americans are:
Available. More than any other group, people who have retired from the fulltime
workforce are the most likely to be available during the hours when afterschool
programs are generally held. In fact, a 1999 study by the Independent
Sector suggests that older Americans are already volunteering a signi cant
amount of time: the biennial survey found that 27.5 million senior volunteers
gave approximately 7.5 billion hours. Indeed, according to this study, volunteerism
is on the rise among seniors, and many more older Americans would
engage in volunteer activities if only they were asked. Clearly, targeted recruitment
strategies, attuned to the social networks and needs of older people, have
the potential to generate thousands of volunteers to sta after-school programs.
Motivated. In the past, retirement was viewed primarily as a time for recreation
and retreat. Today, with baby boomers on the cusp of retirement, this paradigm
is changing. More and more, seniors view their ?third phase? of life as a time for
continued personal growth and for renewed engagement in community service.
This commitment to community service follows from older volunteers? strong
motivation to pass on their experience to future generations. A 2002 study
commissioned by Civic Ventures found that older adults ranked ?working with
children and youth? as their top volunteer interest.
Consistent. Experience Corps program leaders, school principals, and managers
of after-school sites report that older adults are remarkably reliable. Free from
many of the stresses of full-time work and family life, older volunteers rarely fail
Experience Corps | 9
to keep their service commitments. Further, older volunteers often
stick with their programs year after year, maintaining relationships
with students as they progress through their schooling.
Versatile. Older volunteers bring a wealth of life experience
to their service work. In after-school programs, with the right
support and encouragement from program managers, older
volunteers can help launch and guide enrichment activities that
bene t the whole program. Program managers can count on older
volunteers to take leadership roles when appropriate and to pitch
in to help in various ways.
Effective. Research on Experience Corps programs shows that
older volunteers improve school culture, limit behavior problems,
and contribute to student achievement. Moreover, many experts
and school reformers believe that multi-generational environments
bene t students by providing models for healthy, lifelong
development. In after-school programs, which often hire very
young sta members, the impact of older volunteers on program
quality can be especially signi cant.
Older adults are a great resource for after-school programs, and the bene ts of their
involvement can far exceed the costs. However, programs must invest in planning,
management, and operations to create an environment where older adults will thrive.
For More Information
Civic Ventures, at www.civicventures.org: ?The New Face of Retirement: An Ongoing Survey
of American Attitudes on Aging? (2002, by Peter D. Hart Research Associates).
Independent Sector, at www.independentsector.org: ?Experience at Work: Volunteering
and Giving Among Americans 50 and Over? (2003); and the Signature Series ?Giving and
Volunteering in the United States? (1999, 2001).
Points of Light Foundation, at www.pointso ight.org: ?50+ Volunteering: Working for
Stronger Communities? (2004).
?In addition to bringing patience,
understanding and experience,
older volunteers also bring
commitment that is beyond belief.
I?m always amazed, it can be
snowing, the weather can be
absolutely awful for months on
end, and most of our volunteers
will still show up day after day,
week after week despite health
and other personal challenges.
They just have a real desire to help
these children.?
?Mary O?Donnell, Director of Training,
Generations Incorporated (Boston)
10 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
The number of Americans age 55 and older will
almost double between now and 2030?from 60
million today (21 percent of the total US population)
to 107.6 million (31 percent of the population)?as
the Baby Boomers reach retirement age.
During that same period of time, the number of
Americans over 65 will more than double, from
34.8 million in 2000 (12 percent of the population)
to 70.3 million in 2030 (20 percent of the total
The next generation of retirees will be the healthiest,
longest lived, best educated, most
af uent in history.
Americans reaching age 65 today have an average
life expectancy of an additional 17.9 years (19.2
years for females and 16.3 years for males).
The likelihood that an American who reaches the age
of 65 will survive to the age of 90 has nearly doubled over the past 40 years?from just 14 percent of 65-
year-olds in 1960 to 25 percent at present. By 2050, 40 percent of 65-year-olds are likely to reach age 90.
The older population is becoming better educated. While less than one-third of today?s
adults aged 70-74 have at least some college education, that percentage will increase
to more than 50 percent by 2015.
The Demographics: A Fact Sheet on Aging in America
Experience Corps | 11
Most older Americans today have more nancial resources than did previous generations. Households
headed by persons age 65 and older reported a median income in 2000 of $32,854 ($33,467 for whites,
$27,952 for African-Americans, and $24,330 for Hispanics). While one of every eight (12.1 percent) households
headed by someone age 65 or older had incomes less than $15,000, nearly half (49.2 percent) had
annual incomes of $35,000 or more, and nearly three in ten households (29.8 percent) had incomes greater
than $50,000 per year.
Nearly half of all Americans age 55 and over volunteered at least
once in the past year. Even among those age 75 and older, 43
percent had volunteered at some point in the previous year.
Older volunteers devoted the most time to community activities?
almost double the national median for all ages. Compared with the
U.S. median commitment of 52 volunteer hours annually, those 65
and over contributed 96 hours per year. (U.S. Department of Labor?s
Bureau of Labor Statistics, ?Volunteering in the United States,?
December 2002).
The number of older volunteers could be expanded substantially if
more were asked to volunteer or were offered an incentive to serve.| Just 17 percent of adults age 55 and over who were not directly
asked to volunteer did volunteer on their own. Among those who
were asked, however, 84 percent? or more than four times as
many? volunteered.| According to the 2002 Hart survey sponsored by Civic Ventures, an additional 21 percent of older
Americans would commit at least ve hours a week to volunteering if they received a small incentive for
their service, such as discounts on prescription drugs and/or a| $200/month stipend. Offering such an incentive could double the current older adult volunteer workforce.
The Demographics: A Fact Sheet on Aging in America (continued)
12 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Older Americans no longer see retirement as an ?endless vacation,? but increasingly as an active, engaged
phase of life that includes work and public service.
According to a 2002 survey conducted for Civic Ventures, 59 percent of older Americans see retirement as ?a
time to be active and involved, to start new activities, and to set new goals.? Just 24 percent see retirement as
?a time to enjoy leisure activities and take a much deserved rest.?
Those who plan to work in their retirement cite the desire to stay active and productive, rather than economic
necessity, as the primary reason.
More than half of the respondents (56 percent) say civic engagement will be at least a fairly important part
of retirement (Peter D. Hart Research Associates, ?The New Face of Retirement: An Ongoing Survey of
American Attitudes on Aging,? San Francisco: Civic Ventures, 2002).
A 2003 survey conducted for AARP found that many Americans between the ages of 50 and 70 plan to work
far into what has traditionally been viewed as their ?retirement years?:| Nearly half of all pre-retirees (45 percent) expect to continue working into their 70s or later. Of this group,
27 percent said they would work until they were in their 70s, and 18 percent said ?80 or older,? ?never
stop working,? or ?as long as they are able to work.?
The Demographics: A Fact Sheet on Aging in America (continued)
Experience Corps | 13| The most common reasons given by pre-retirees for wanting to continue working in retirement were the
desire to stay ?mentally active? (87 percent) or ?physically active? (85 percent), and the desire ?to remain
productive or useful? (77 percent). Slightly more than half of the pre-retirees (54 percent) indicated that
their motivation was based on ?a need for money.? (S. Kathi Brown, ?Staying Ahead of the Curve 2003:
The AARP Working in Retirement Study,? Washington, DC: AARP, 2003).| The result of these demographic trends is the emergence of a new life-stage between adulthood and true
old age?which has been called the ?third age? or ?midcourse? or ?my time.?
?The third age is no longer a brief intermezzo between midlife and drastic decline... [Instead, it] has the
potential to become the best stage of all, an age of liberation when individuals combine newfound freedoms
with prolonged health and the chance to make some of their most important contributions to life.?
? Marc Freedman, founder of Civic Ventures, author of PrimeTime:
How Baby Boomers Will Revolutionize Retirement and Transform America.
?[Midcourse] connotes the period in which individuals begin to think about, plan for, and actually disengage
from their primary career occupations and the raising of children; launch second or third careers; develop
new identities and new ways to be productively engaged; establish new patterns of relating to spouses, children,
siblings, parents, friends; leave some existing relationships and begin new ones.... The fact that most
retirees say that they retired ?to do other things? suggests that midcoursers are retiring to move to something
else, not simply from boring or demanding jobs.?
? Phyllis Moen, McKnight Presidential Chair, Sociology, University of Minnesota.
From: ?Midcourse: Navigating Retirement and a New Life Stage.? In Jeylan Mortimer and
Michael J. Shanahan, eds., Handbook of the Life Course. New York: Kluwer Publishers, 2003.
?Something huge is happening here... The emergence of an older, more vigorous population is the most
signi cant story of our times.?
? Abigail Trafford, Washington Post health columnist and author,
My Time: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life.
The Demographics: A Fact Sheet on Aging in America (continued)

That Tap the Resources of Older Adults
Creating After-School Programs
16 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Experience Corps is a distinct model and approach to intergenerational learning. In
fact, Experience Corps is a registered trademark?meaning an organization can only
start an Experience Corps program with the consent and formal approval of Civic
Ventures, Experience Corps?s parent organization. The purpose of the trademark is
to assure that local programs are a uni ed network, with
the consistency, quality control, and identity that re ect the
Experience Corps movement. However, any after-school
program that wants to e ectively engage older adults can learn
from the research-based program design and the experience of
our local projects over the last eight years.
The Experience Corps model grew out of a 5-city pilot project
launched in the fall of 1995. The results of the pilot project
showed that recruiting older adults to serve as mentors and
tutors for at-risk youth can make a signi cant di erence in
the lives of students as well as enrich the lives of the volunteers
when certain conditions are met. For example, an
e ective service model must include adequate training and
support; older adults must serve consistently, multiple days
each week, in teams of their peers; there must be clear roles
for the older adults and a simple way to evaluate children?s progress; and there must
be thoughtful collaboration between a local ?host? for the program and service sites
(such as schools).
Today, Experience Corps operates in 12 di erent communities across the country
connecting children to Americans 55 and older with the goal of improving academic
and social outcomes for children, while at the same time yielding bene ts for older
adults that result from purposeful, meaningful activity. Four of these ventures?in
Boston, Washington DC, Kansas City, and San Francisco?have active after-school
programs in addition to in-school activities.
Core Program Elements
Here?s what distinguishes an Experience Corps program:
Focus on Impact. From the beginning, the Experience Corps model has focused
on a project?s e orts to achieve measurable impact on students, institutions, and
Designing Successful Programs
The Experience Corps Way
Experience Corps | 17
Critical Mass. The model calls for the placement of a su cient number of older
adults in schools or nonpro t organizations so that large numbers of youth are
reached and the entire climate of the service site is a ected.
Collaboration Through Teams. Older adults work together in teams to deliver
signi cant service. The teams are an important strategy to a ect institutions and
provide signi cant bene ts to participating seniors.
Service Options for Older Adults. Seniors participating in Experience Corps
may make a commitment of 15 hours per week or more (the centerpiece of the
program), but may also serve part-time (generally 4-8 hrs. per week) or fulltime
(frequently in leadership positions).
Connectedness. Emphasis is placed on recruiting seniors who live in local communities
adjacent to the service sites.
Lifelong Learning. Older adults receive extensive training in tutoring, mentoring,
literacy, or other topics relevant to their service assignment. In addition,
they are given personal development opportunities to support their continued
civic engagement.
Leadership. Older adults are encouraged to assume leadership roles that will
strengthen the institution and communities where projects are located.
Beyond these guidelines, the Experience Corps model is exible so that it can be
adapted to a variety of settings. The diversity in the current Experience Corps afterschool
programs illustrates the exibility inherent in the model. Some are highly
structured and academically oriented; others include multiple types of activities.
Some are focused primarily on tutoring, while others put more emphasis on mentoring.
Some programs operate entirely on school premises, while others are housed in
other types of facilities, such as YMCAs or Boys and Girls Clubs. Some operate only
during the school year, while others operate year-round.
For More Information
Heather E. Quick, Carmen Martinez-Sussmann, and Freya Makris, Experience Corps?PM:
Results from Year 2 of the Implementation Study, American Institutes for Research, 2001.
Contact Experience Corps for a copy.
Visit the Corporation for National and Community Service web site, www.cns.gov, for links
to a vast array of program tools, research, and publications related to designing e ective service
Read recent research published by the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in the Journal of
Urban Health to learn more about how and why the Experience Corps model works for older
adults and for children. Abstracts and articles are available at jurban.oupjournals.org, or see the
links at http://www.experiencecorps.org/research/.
18 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Creating Roles for Older Adults
In After-School Programs
?Children bene t from having the older adults in the program because they can provide that patience
and understanding and love and support to our children who don?t receive it on a daily basis. They?re
the ones that give that smile and that hug, and say ?I believe in you.? They?re the ones that can take
the time to really listen when a child makes a joke or wants to talk about a problem at school.?
?Judith Simmons, Experience Corps Project Director, YMCA-Kansas City
There are many roles older adults can play in after-school programs, everything from
homework helper to sta member. Here are the most common roles:
Reading or Math Tutor. Many after-school programs now use proven math
and literacy programs aligned with state standards. With appropriate training,
older volunteers are perfect providers of extra help in reading, writing, literacy
development and math. They can also design educational games that combine
fun and learning. One source for ideas is the national organization Reading Is
Fundamental, www.rif.org.
Homework Helper. Older volunteers can provide individual attention for
students in completing and reviewing homework in all subjects, and can help
students develop stronger study skills. Many large, traditional service organizations
such as YMCAs o er after-school homework assistance, as do smaller
community-based youth organizations and recreation centers.
Mentor. Mentors commit to building a relationship with individual students over
time. Programs with a mentoring component must develop procedures to screen,
match, and support mentors, especially if mentoring activities take place o site.
The National Mentoring Partnership (www.mentoring.org) provides a wealth of
resources, along with zip-code search for local mentoring opportunities.
Activity Leader. Trusted volunteers can either run existing activities within an
after-school program or develop new activities that are related to their careers,
hobbies, or interests. Whether it?s chess, baking or poetry, older volunteers often
have the time and motivation to add variety and enrichment opportunities to
after-school programs.
Committee Member. Often, older volunteers who become involved as tutors or
mentors are also willing to contribute their skills and experiences in other ways
such as serving on fundraising or special events committees.
Experience Corps | 19
Volunteer Coordinator. After they?ve gotten their feet wet, some older volunteers
may want to take on more responsibility?especially if they have strong organizational
skills. The duties of a volunteer coordinator include acting as a liaison
between volunteers and sta , facilitating training, team building, volunteer
appreciation, and recruitment of new volunteers.
Staff Member. ?Retirement? no longer means the end of gainful employment.
Many individuals who have retired from public service or corporate careers
take part-time jobs, either because they the need extra income or because they
want the satisfaction that comes from meaningful work. Because after-school
positions are part-time and involve children, they have appeal for older workers
seeking to transition from their full-time careers.
Older adults play many
roles in Experience Corps
after-school programs.
For example:
In Boston, a group of older volunteers meet
with second and third graders two afternoons a
week to help them improve their reading skills.
These one-on-one ?Reading Coaches? are part
of an Experience Corps after-school program
operated by Generations, Incorporated, a nonpro
t organization that provides programs that
bring youth and seniors together at community-
based facilities like Boys & Girls Clubs. At
each after-school site, a staff person maintains
a library of approximately 100 to 150 books,
each accompanied by a folder that provides
suggested activities. Prior to meeting with a
student, tutors pick a book to read, review the
text, and create a written session plan. In the
session with the student, the tutor introduces
the book, goes through vocabulary that may be
dif cult for the student, and then listens as the
student reads the book out loud. After nishing
the book, the student is asked to complete an
activity based on what he or she has read. To
ensure that the program is fun for the students
as well as academically useful, the Boston
program includes eld trips, ?game days,? parties,
and other social activities to supplement
the reading activities.
In Washington DC, a group of retired men
serve as mentors at Birney Elementary School.
The participants in the after-school program
are boys in the fth and sixth grades at the
school, many of whom come from low-income,
single-parent homes, and therefore have few
strong male role models. In order to address
these challenges, the program pairs each
boy with a male mentor who meets with him
throughout the school year. The goal of the
mentors is to become ?big buddies? with the
students, meeting with them several times a
week, offering friendship and support, but not
interfering directly with the students? home
lives. The mentors are an impressive group?
about half are former mid-level managers in
the federal or district government. In contrast
to other Experience Corps after-school programs,
the Birney School program is relatively
unstructured. The mentors talk with their
students and will help them with homework
if asked, but there is no xed schedule of
activities. Sometimes the mentors organize
eld trips to professional sports events or
In San Francisco, program organizers make
a special effort to use older adults? previous
experience to shape their service to children.
The coordinator at one middle school program
describes an Experience Corps volunteer this
way: ?Of all the Experience Corps volunteers,
?Diamond Dave? Whitaker is probably the
best suited to the uidity and diversity of the
Mission Beacon. He is a poet from the beat
generation, the original mentor of Bob Dylan, a
down-in-the-dirt full-time community activist,
and a long-time Experience Corps volunteer.
Many of the people at Everett Middle School
and Community Bridges Beacon have known
him for a good portion of their lives. Talk to him
about his past sometime and you will know
that he has already had a signi cant impact
on the community here. Whether conducting
read alouds in classrooms, hanging out
with kids in the Drop-Zone (a drop-in center),
inviting Experience Corps volunteers and staff
to speak on his radio show, or pounding the
pavement to spread the word about the need
for more older adult volunteers in our public
schools, Diamond Dave is a unique resource to
students and staff alike.?
20 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
The challenge for program managers is not just getting the initial
placement right; it?s also keeping older adults engaged over the long
haul. This can be accomplished by letting older adults transition naturally
from lower intensity roles, such as tutor, to more demanding roles
such as activity leader or volunteer coordinator.
For More Information
The Afterschool Alliance (www.afterschoolalliance.org) is a nonpro t
organization dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of after-school
programs and advocating for quality, a ordable programs for all children.
Their web site is a great source of information about after-school programs
generally, and it includes a variety of practical program tools.
The National Network of Statewide Afterschool Networks
(www.publicengagement.com/afterschoolnetworks/) brings together established
statewide after-school networks in their collective mission to build
partnerships and policies that are committed to the development and sustainability of quality
after-school programs. These partnerships?funded through the support of the Charles Stewart
Mott Foundation and other funders?are focused on actively engaging key decisionmakers
in support of school-based/school-linked after-school programs, particularly in underserved
communities. Currently 18 statewide after-school networks are funded to coordinate and in uence
the systems that support the success of children and young people. Nationally available
resources exist on the web site, where you can also nd out if your state is among the lucky 18.
If yes, contact the statewide network for more information and assistance.
The Experience Corps web site (www.experiencecorps.org) includes rst-person stories from
older adult volunteers and descriptions of the roles they play in each of the twelve cities where
the program operates.
The Senior Corps web site (www.seniorcorps.org) includes research and program tools
relevant to designing roles for older volunteers.
The Harvard Family Research Project?s evaluation periodical, The Evaluation Exchange,
addresses current issues facing program evaluators of all levels. The spring and summer 2004
issues will address the challenges and possibilities for evaluating after school programs in the
new era of accountability. You can nd it at http://www.gse.harvard.edu/hfrp/eval/issue25/
?After-school is a great place
for caring adults from all walks
of life to contribute something
meaningful and creative. Even if
a volunteer doesn?t speak English
as a rst language, they can still
make a signi cant impact in an
art class or in a culture class or
in a talking circle [a peer support
group for kids].?
?Eunice Nichols, Director,
Experience Corps-San Francisco
Experience Corps | 21
Designing Great Recruitment Plans
E ective recruitment starts with a thoughtful plan. When you sit down to develop
your recruitment plan, take note of these ten tips.
Develop a marketing plan. Identify your ?audience,? your recruitment messages,
the major strategies you plan to use to recruit older volunteers, and your target
goals (i.e., how many volunteers do you want to recruit over the next year).
As you develop your marketing plan, think about ways your overall program
budget can be structured to help you recruit volunteers. For example, can you
allocate some of your budget to hire a volunteer
coordinator? Can you set aside funds for
stipends for volunteers who work 10 or more
hours per week?
Write volunteer position descriptions.
Volunteer job descriptions should outline
the responsibilities and expectations for
participation in your program. What types of
activities will they be engaged in? What skills
and attributes will a volunteer need to be
Use social networks to nd your rst
volunteers. When recruiting in retirement
communities, don?t just put out yers and
talk to sta . Attend community events and seek out one resident who might be
willing to serve as a recruitment liaison for the whole community. Advertising
for recruiting events often works better than advertising that merely announces
a volunteer opportunity.
Find recruiting partners. Programs seeking to build an older volunteer service
component from scratch should reach out to institutions and individuals trusted
by volunteers over 55. You can jump start your recruitment e ort by forging a
special relationship with a local church or service organization, so that your program
becomes a primary service opportunity for members. It?s also important to
reach out to all the local and national organizations that connect volunteers with
service opportunities in your community. (See the section of this tool kit called
?Where to Find Older Volunteers? for more ideas.)
Make regular presentations to partner organizations. While a good rst step
is to get mentioned in a partner?s newsletter or listed in a directory of volunteer
22 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
opportunities, generally this will not be su cient to produce referrals. Make
sure you spend time with sta members at your partner organizations, so they
understand your program and feel comfortable referring people to you.
Create an intake system so that prospective volunteers feel welcomed and
valued when they contact your program. This should include guidelines for how
prospective volunteers are greeted, what information they receive about how
they can be involved, a clear application process, and timelines for follow-up at
each stage of the process.
Support word-of-mouth recruitment with multi-faceted community outreach.
In after-school programming, as in so many other arenas, word-of-mouth is by
far the most e ective recruitment strategy. A good recruitment plan will focus
on creating opportunities, tools, and incentives for current volunteers to act as
ambassadors for your program.
Empower everyone connected to your program to recruit friends, family,
and acquaintances. Find stakeholders who are members of communities of
potential volunteers (service organizations, church congregations, retirement
communities). Deputize those people to be recruiters for your program. Create
recruiting events. Use an annual or seasonal celebration as a forum to attract
new volunteers. Give current volunteers/stakeholders the support and funds to
plan a fun event. Print inexpensive ?business cards? for current volunteers at a
local copy shop with the name of your program, a contact phone number, and
web address.
Produce recruitment iers and other materials such as t-shirts, buttons, and
giveaway items. Highlight the idea of teamwork in your recruitment yers and
materials; use words that convey belonging (?join,? ?team,? ?family,? ?community?)
and photos that show older volunteers working or celebrating as a group.
Be sure the photos include both men and women, and represent the diversity of
your community.
Develop a process for screening recruits. A good screening process can
determine whether volunteers have a positive attitude and a serious level of
commitment. This process is often a two-way street that involves providing potential
volunteers with information about what is involved in a program as well
as seeking information about the volunteers. Make sure your screening process
also satis es state and local laws that may require a criminal background check
and a TB test for your volunteers.
Experience Corps | 23
Finding Recruitment Partners
You don?t have to recruit older adults one by one, on your own. It can help to turn to
other groups in your community, including the following:
Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Other Religious Organizations. A
survey conducted by Independent Sector in 2000 found that religious institutions
are, by far, the organizations that seniors turn to most when seeking to
volunteer. According to the survey, 52% of older volunteers found their service
opportunity through a church or synagogue. (The next most popular conduit
was membership organizations, which helped recruit 13% of senior volunteers.)
Developing strong relationships with local clergy is often the key to successfully
launching a new volunteer program, especially one focused on seniors.
Senior Corps Programs. Senior Corps is a network of programs administered
by the federal Corporation for National and Community Service. Three Senior
Corps programs o er partnership opportunities for after-school programs:
Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). RSVP a liates in all 50
states help recruit older volunteers and place them in service that meets their
skills and interests. RSVP a liates typically work with three to ve programs
each to provide a range of opportunities for volunteers. For a list of RSVP
a liates, see www.seniorcorps.org/joining/rsvp .
The Foster Grandparent Program (FGP) is open to people age 60 and over
with limited incomes. All applicants undergo a background check and a
telephone interview, as well as pre-service and in-service training. Foster
Grandparents serve as mentors, tutors, and caregivers for at-risk children and
youth with special needs through a variety of community organizations, including
schools, hospitals, drug treatment facilities, correctional institutions,
and Head Start and day-care centers. Foster Grandparents serve 20 hours
a week. In exchange for their service, they receive a small tax-free stipend,
reimbursement for transportation, meals during service, annual physical
examinations, and accident and liability insurance while on duty. For more
information, see www.seniorcorps.org/joining/fgp.
Senior Corps Network. The national Senior Corps program operates an online
volunteer matching system and can help connect your program to local
Senior Corps grantees. To get your program included in the Senior Corps
directory, or to learn more, visit www.seniorcorps.org/partners.
24 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Organizations that Serve Seniors. Senior Centers are community organizations
that o er a mix of services and activities for older Americans. Depending on the
focus and level of programming, Senior Centers can make excellent recruiting
partners for after-school programs. You can nd a local senior center through
state-funded entities known as Area Agencies on Aging, which also can sometimes
help with volunteer recruitment. An online directory of these agencies
is available at www.n4a.org, or you can call the U.S. Administration on Aging?s
hotline at 1-800-677-1116. (This hotline is intended primarily to help family
members seeking care for elderly relatives, but Area Agencies on Aging and
Senior Centers also work with active and healthy people who could bene t from
volunteer opportunities.)
Like Senior Centers, retirement communities can be great volunteer recruitment
partners. Some retirement communities are single apartment buildings while
others resemble small cities with thousands of housing units for older residents.
You can generally nd nearby retirement communities in the
Yellow Pages, or you can search on-line at www.eldernet.com.
Corporate retiree programs also provide information to large
numbers of older people and can be e ective recruitment
partners. Retiree programs may be found through Corporate
Volunteer Councils. See www.pointso ight.org/organizations/
corp_vol_council.cfm for a national directory.
State and local o ces of AARP can also be excellent recruiting
partners. Experience Corps, Big Brothers Big Sisters,
and Everybody Wins are among the organizations with
whom AARP state o ces have developed youth mentoring
partnerships. AARP also has a Senior Community Service
Employment Program, whose services include paid temporary work assignments
with non-pro t organizations. See http://www.aarp.org/volunteer/.
Volunteer Centers. There are 360 Volunteer Centers around the country that
refer potential volunteers to service opportunities. The purpose of these centers
is to ?bring people and community needs together through a range of programs
and services based upon community needs, demographic area, population size,
and other factors.? For a directory, visit the Volunteer Center National Network
at www.pointso ight.org/centers/centers.cfm.
CityCares Af liates. CityCares a liates, known as ?Cares? or ?Hands On? organizations,
engage over 250,000 volunteers in direct service to their communities
each year. In cities large and small, 30 Cares a liates have been established in
the U.S., one a liate in the Philippines, and an additional 13 partner organizations
in the U.K. CityCares was formed in 1992 to serve as the umbrella organization
for these local CityCares organizations. Visit www.citycares.org.
Experience Corps | 25
Service Organizations. Many service organizations have a long tradition of
involving members in community work. Often, a partnership with one of these
groups can yield both volunteers and funding. Here are a few of the largest
national and international networks:
Junior Leagues are organizations of women committed to promoting voluntarism,
developing the potential of women, and improving communities
through the e ective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Interests
include family literacy, school readiness, and youth leadership development.
A Junior League organization exists in 294 communities throughout the
United States, Canada, Mexico, and Great Britain. See www.ajli.org.
Kiwanis International is a social and service organization for businesspeople
and professionals. The average age of members is 55 and most Kiwanis service
projects focus on children. There are over 6,000 U.S. Kiwanis clubs. You
can nd your local club by using the club locator tool at www.kiwanis.org.
Elks of the USA has more than 1 million members belonging to 2,100 local
lodges nationwide. Their mission includes serving ?people and communities
through benevolent programs.? Their programs for youth include sports
activities, essay contests, scholarships, partnerships with Boy Scout and Girl
Scout troops, and service to veterans. See www.elks.org.
Lions International, a service organization with 13,000 clubs in the U.S.,
is best known for service to the blind and disaster relief. They also provide
prevention programs that educate youth about the dangers of drug use, and
sponsor youth activities. See www.lionsclubs.org for more information.
Rotary is ?dedicated to fostering the ideal of service.? With 400,000 U.S.
members, there are Rotary clubs in most cities and many towns. Their website,
www.rotary.org, includes a club locator.
Alumni Organizations, Sororities, and Fraternities. Many alumni organizations
sponsor service opportunities for their members. If your program operates in a
community with a strong college, university, or alumni network presence, you
may want to develop a partnership through a chapter of the alumni organization,
an inter-fraternity council, or a speci c sorority/fraternity. For example,
Alpha Phi Omega (www.apo.org) is a national, co-ed service fraternity. One
umbrella organization you can contact is the National Panhellenic Conference,
founded in 1902. Their web site (www.npcwomen.org) has links to the web
sites of 26 inter/national women?s fraternities and sororities. The National Pan-
Hellenic Council (www.nphchq.org) is the international governing council made
up of the nine largest African-American sororities and fraternities.
26 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Mastering the Message
For Recruiting More Older Adults
If you?d like more older adults to help sta after-school programs, researchers say you
have to ask them. According to recent research by Independent Sector, less than half
of those over 50 are being asked to volunteer despite the nding that ?the volunteering
rate is about three times higher for those [over 50] who were asked than for those
who were not.?
But how do you make the ask? How do you craft recruitment messages that hit home
with this growing population of people with more time to give?
A number of researchers and organizations, including Experience Corps, have been
exploring this question in focus groups, in surveys, and in real-life trials. There is
much more to discover, but this list represents what has been learned so far.
To craft a message that succeeds with older adults, consider the following:
Retirement is a time of con icting emotions for almost everyone, regardless
of background or where they live. According to focus group research sponsored
by Experience Corps and conducted by Margaret Mark, retirees universally
love their exhilarating, new-found freedom and the feeling of control they
have over their lives. On the other hand, many retirees seemed to fear too much
freedom and too little structure. They miss the purposeful relationships and
friendships they found at work. They miss the validation. And they miss feeling
useful. When creating messages, it?s important to take the negative feelings into
Retirees care about legacy. One of the things retirees miss most about work,
according to Mark?s focus group research, is the ability to share or pass on their
experience. This desire to pass on experience?and perhaps, in the process, to
validate the value of one?s own life and work experiences?seems to carry special
meaning for men (and possibly women who have been in the workforce their
entire lives), whose identities and often strongest social ties outside the family
were integrally connected to their jobs.
Helping helps. Retirees who are involved in volunteer activities say they regain
a sense of purpose and an a rmation of their value that tends to mitigate some
of the loss they experienced after leaving the workplace.
Experience Corps | 27
The most satis ed volunteers seem to be those who nd an outlet for their
own unique talents and abilities. The singer who discovers he can use his
music to brighten the lives of older people, and the retiree who reads her
favorite books out loud while making recordings for the blind, have found their
niche. Validating life experience and acknowledging speci c skills and talents
is crucial in recruiting volunteers. O ering to match those abilities to relevant
local needs is a very promising message.
Optimism is the ultimate sell. Researchers have found that older adults don?t
process or retain negative images as well as younger people do. When shown
positive, negative, and neutral photo images, older adults remembered nearly
as many positive images as younger people, but their memory for negative
and neutral images was signi cantly less. Recent brain research reinforces this
Meaningful goals may become more important with age, while expanding
horizons may become less important. According to research done by Stanford
professor Laura Carstensen, goals change across the lifespan. When people
think their time is unlimited, they tend to focus on expanding horizons, acquiring
knowledge, meeting new people, and taking chances. When people sense
that their time is nite, they tend to focus more
on what?s important in the present. They choose
to live in the moment, invest in sure things,
deepen existing relationships, and savor life.
Given their focus on emotionally meaningful
goals, older adults prefer emotional messages
to informational ones. Professors Laura
Carstensen and Helene Hoi-Lam Fung showed
older and younger people two di erent ads
for the same products. Older people preferred
the emotional messages, while younger people
preferred the informational ones. In addition,
older people remembered slogans better when
they were emotionally meaningful.
Successful messages stress that service offers bene ts to those who serve.
According to an AARP survey, ?One of the top motivations among 45 and
older volunteers is a sense of responsibility to help others.? But appealing to
that responsibility may not be persuasive?and may not be enough. It helps to
include in your pitch the bene ts volunteering can o er to the volunteers?in
this case, older Americans. These can include, according to Mark, the sense of
new possibilities; a feeling that one?s life is expanding, not constricting; renewed
energy and vitality; camaraderie and shared goals; a sense of community; a feel-
28 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
ing of accomplishment; recognition that one?s life experience counts for something;
and a renewed sense of purpose. In addition, new research by the Johns
Hopkins Medical Institutions shows that giving back can help keep older people
healthier and more vital than those who don?t volunteer.
Words matter; labels offend. Mark?s focus group research shows that people do
not like to be labeled by their age. In other words, they don?t like being called
?older,? ?senior,? or ?elderly.? They don?t like phrases that imply ?lines of demarcation,?
including ?older boomers,? and ?older retirees.? And they don?t like the
idea of life being carved up into sections and described with phrases like ?the
third age.? More appealing descriptors have nothing to do with growing older,
but include the acknowledgement of accumulated wisdom and life experience.
Words like ?coaches? and ?the experienced? work well. (Apologies for our own
terminology in this report; the words we need clearly haven?t been invented yet.)
Americans over 55 are not one, big homogenous group. Research shows that
people of di erent ages, genders, and races react di erently to di erent messages.
It?s also quite likely that people of di erent faiths and varying degrees
of religious commitment will have di erent reactions to di erent messages, as
will people of di erent economic classes and geographic locations. Try to be as
speci c as possible when determining your target recruits.
Appeals that include the promise of camaraderie and teamwork will probably
be met with skepticism by men. It?s seems logical that retirees who miss the relationships
they formed at work would respond to volunteer opportunities that
promise teamwork. But be careful of the gender divide. Women seem to like
the idea of working as part of a group or team, sight-unseen. Despite missing
work-related relationships and on-the-job camaraderie, men are more skeptical
and adopt a wait-and-see attitude. It may be more e ective to convey the idea
of teamwork implicitly, through pictures, for instance, and as a word-of-mouth
message delivered by current volunteers.
Motivations for volunteering may differ by race. According to Mark?s research,
urban African Americans tend to respond more to the urgency of the need to
help solve pressing urban problems. Most likely, they witness and internalize
the need more acutely and are more likely to feel an obligation to do something
about it. Those who are more removed geographically and in other ways may be
less empathetic toward our neediest citizens.
Clever appeals may not work with all age groups. Those under 60 seem to appreciate
and get word plays and innuendo, according to Mark?s research. Those
over 60 may favor more concrete communication.
Experience Corps | 29
Be careful with humorous appeals. Humor is likely to be an attention-getter,
but will likely alienate some people. Along age lines, the same joke will probably
not be funny to those who grew up with Bob Hope and to those who grew up
with Saturday Night Live.
Best of both worlds: Older adults tend to like volunteer opportunities that involve
simultaneously helping younger generations while working with peers.
The opportunity to work with younger people provides an outlet for older adults
to pass their experience on to the next generation. Working with peers creates
the kind of team and purposeful activity that people seem to miss most when
they retire.
30 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Tackling the Tactics for Recruiting Older Adults
?Our Experience Corps volunteers have the highest retention rate of all our site-based volunteers.
Publicizing the Experience Corps program has assisted with recruitment and volunteer recognition.
But most importantly, having pictures of local volunteers has made the biggest impact.?
?Judith Simmons, Project Director, Experience Corps Kansas City
Many after-school programs nd it challenging to reach out to older adults for the
rst time. And of course, the challenge is not merely to recruit enough volunteers, but
to recruit the right volunteers whose interests and abilities are compatible with your
program?s needs.
Established after-school programs o er the following lessons:
The most successful recruitment campaigns use multiple channels to reach
potential volunteers. Reaching out to older volunteers can be done through
community events, public service announcements on radio and television, iers,
transit ads, announcements in community and city newspapers, tables at community
health fairs, personal letters, and more. Remember that ?older adults?
are not a single group; many people 55 and older are still working full-time, and
those in the 55-65 age range have di erent life experiences than those in their
70s and 80s. (Think about the di erences between your peers, your parents, and
your grandparents.) Some older adults are more likely to read classi ed ads in
the newspaper; others are more likely to nd you on a web site or listserv.
The most effective single strategy is word of mouth. Current volunteers tend to
be the most articulate, most convincing spokespeople for the bene ts of participating
in an after-school program. Some programs take advantage of this fact by
basing their recruitment e orts around encouraging current volunteers to recruit
others?sometimes with nancial incentives. For example, the Kansas City
Experience Corps director runs a contest each year among current volunteers
to see who can recruit the most new people and o ers cash prizes to those who
bring in ve new people. Other programs create recruitment committees, made
up of current volunteers. Sta members make sure to take at least one member of
the committee with them when they make recruitment presentations at churches
and organizational meetings. Current volunteers can also help organize bringa-
friend recruitment events; send postcards, note cards, and other personalized
letters to people they know; and help sponsor and invite friends to open houses.
Experience Corps | 31
Volunteers for after-school programs tend to come from the neighborhoods
in which the programs operate. Understanding this dictates where you spend
your time recruiting new volunteers. The Experience Corps program coordinators
in San Francisco, for example, place ads in community newspapers, attend
local fairs and festivals, and speak at meetings of local organizations.
Working with other organizations that have access to potential volunteers
is a valuable recruitment strategy. Because many older adults are
active in religious organizations, churches, synagogues and mosques
can be particularly valuable potential partners for recruiting older
volunteers. The next best source for older volunteers is membership
organizations. Several Experience Corps projects have developed
e ective partnerships with the state AARP o ce or the Area Agency
on Aging. Local civic organizations make good partners, too. For
example, the Experience Corps in Washington, DC, has developed a
relationship with a local group of African-American Masons (Prince
Hall Grand Lodge), which has been the source of approximately half
of the male mentors in the program at Birney Elementary School.
Advertising or the use of PSAs or publicity through local media
outlets can be useful strategies for attracting new volunteers, but
their effectiveness varies widely. Studies show that seniors are active readers
of newspapers and also spend considerable time listening to radio and watching
television. The most economical use: classi ed ads and public service announcements.
If you have funding to buy print advertising space or radio and cable TV
commercial time, consider the buys to be long-term investments. Experience
Corps has found that these venues generally do not yield the same numbers of
new recruits compared to other recruitment strategies such as word of mouth
and partnering with other organizations. However, they do spread the word
about the program and, over time, the more people who have heard of your efforts,
the easier it will be to recruit. And there are other bene ts, too. As Eunice
Nichols, director of Experience Corps San Francisco notes, ?The media attention
and high-pro le ads generated strong excitement in volunteers and program
partners, resulting in a new sense of pride in the program and a stronger
sense of team citywide.?
Try to anticipate and respond to the needs and interests of older volunteers
before they ask. Some new retirees may be very protective of their new-found
freedom. Some potential older volunteers may be concerned about such issues
as personal safety and their ability to connect with young people. Others may
be concerned about their quali cations to do the work that needs to get done
or their ability to cover the costs of transportation and lunch. In materials
that promote your program or speci c opportunities, be as speci c as you can
about hours, stipends, locations, transportation, quali cations, and training. In
?The images, ads, and logo
have helped us to gain
credibility as an established,
reputable organization in San
Francisco, opening up new
doors for us in the arena of
partnership and funding.?
?Eunice Nichols, Director,
Experience Corps San Francisco
32 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
addition, testimony from happy older volunteers in your program can provide
reassurance to potential recruits.
Create a professional, inviting image for your program by producing quality
materials. Your materials create a rst impression of your program; you
want it to be a good one. As much as nances allow, use good design, clear
text that large and easy to read, and quality color photographs of current older
adults in after-school programs. The photos can be critical in forming that rst
impression and conveying the message to a potential volunteer that the
task is approachable, fun, and rewarding. As Ann Birnbaum, director of
Experience Corps Washington DC says, ?The photos capture the essence
of Experience Corps in a way that text on paper does not.?
Screening potential volunteers is an important part of the recruitment
process. In many cases, programs that involve direct contact of
volunteers with children are required to include criminal history record
checks as part of their screening process. Screening can also help ensure
that volunteers who are selected are likely to be successful. People interested
in joining Experience Corps in Kansas City are invited to spend a
day observing the program. They are then invited to a ?mini-orientation?
that provides more information about the program and what volunteers
do. They are then invited to ll out an application, and about half of those
who attend the orientation do so. Those who submit applications are
interviewed to explore why they are interested in the program and what
role they would like to play.
Matching volunteers to the right assignment helps determine
whether they will be effective in and satis ed with their roles. In Boston,
newly recruited after-school literacy tutors, called Reading Coaches, are given
an opportunity to observe what goes on at the site where they will work to make
sure they are comfortable with those activities. In San Francisco, program sta
discovered that some participants were uncomfortable helping middle school
students with math assignments but were attracted by the prospect of working
with elementary school students on arts and crafts projects. In other cases,
the key to success has been to enable volunteers to make use of their personal
interests or special skills. One volunteer in San Francisco turned out to be a
Parcheesi champion and has been teaching students how to play the game,
which provides them with an enjoyable intellectual challenge.
?Having increased visibility
is important but not effective
enough unless we also engage
individuals personally. On
the other hand, peer-to-peer
recruitment is very dif cult
unless the potential volunteer
has heard of our organizations
and is able to associate them
with positive images and
?Mary Gunn, Executive Director,
Generations Incorporated (host of
Experience Corps Boston)
Experience Corps | 33
Supporting and Retaining Older Adults
Recruitment and retention go hand-in-hand. Without a strong strategy for retaining
volunteers, you may nd the investment you?ve made in recruiting volunteers is
wasted. Here are the major components of an e ective volunteer retention strategy.
Training. Providing volunteers with high quality orientation and training is
probably the most important element for making volunteers feel valued and
prepared. No one likes to be ill-prepared to take on the challenges they will face
once they are ?on the job.?
This can be especially true for older adults who may
not be familiar with the issues that often arise in
working with young students. In Experience Corps
after-school programs, new recruits go through training
programs that last from a half-day to a full day or
more. A pre-service training session might include:
information about tutoring and mentoring; ideas and
suggestions for working with ?challenging students
or behavior?; exercises to help older volunteers to be
aware of the ways in which the world they grew up in
di ers from what youth experience today; and discussions
about what kinds of improvements or achievements
are reasonable to expect from the students with
whom they will be working.
Team Building. Ongoing support for volunteers is also important. Most
Experience Corps programs hold monthly team meetings that provide additional
training and o er volunteers a chance to talk about their successes as well
as the challenges they are facing. This kind of support gives volunteers a chance
to re ect on and learn from their experiences and get help from peers and
program sta when they need it.
Feedback?Giving it. ?Job reviews? can be useful for volunteers. They can help
volunteers appreciate what they are contributing as well as recognize areas
where they can improve their performance. Consider providing your volunteers
regular feedback, both orally and in written form, plus a formal review at the
end of the school year.
Feedback?Getting It. Volunteers are more likely to stick around if they feel
they have a real voice in improving the program. For some program sta ,
34 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
accepting ideas from volunteers can seem like an annoyance. However, to the
extent that volunteers feel like they are colleagues working toward a common
cause, they will feel appreciated and stay engaged for the long haul. When they
feel like their thoughts are not valued, that?s when things start to break down,
they start to drift, and then they leave.
Personal Development/Leadership Opportunities. Everyone likes to grow as a
person. The exible nature of after-school programs allows you to be creative
about how you use your volunteers. Empower your volunteers to take the reins
or try new activities. Let veteran volunteers play a role in trainings.
Recognition. Recognition takes two forms. One involves treating volunteers
with respect on a day-to-day basis. This means taking the time to give volunteers
an update on what you?re planning for the day, and occasionally asking
their opinions on how to carry out a task. The second type encompasses things
that are special, like annual award dinners, invitations to attend concert performances
or other cultural events, and articles that feature individual volunteers
in local publications. All of these can provide ?psychic rewards? that let your
volunteers know their contributions are noticed and appreciated.
A successful retention strategy can do more than just keep volunteers motivated and
engaged. If you empower your volunteers, they can become the best advocates for
your program.
Special strategies for
supporting and retaining
older volunteers
The San Francisco Experience Corps
after-school program has recently piloted a
new training module for after-school program
staff on how to effectively utilize older adult
volunteers. Designed to last 75 minutes, the
training uses brainstorming, case studies, and
discussion to explore what motivates volunteers
to stay or leave. Special handouts list tips for
success and suggest ways to recognize volunteers.
San Francisco program director Eunice
Nichols says, ?this is a work in progress, but it
gives a sense of the type of things to cover in
this sort of training.? (The training agenda is
included in the sample materials at the end of
this tool kit.)
In Boston, Experience Corps host agency
Generations, Incorporated has created an
Experience Corps Council. This is a group of
volunteers who represent the various program
sites and meet approximately once every other
month to give input into upcoming projects.
Boston?s training director Mary O?Donnell
says,? the Council is a way for us to express
how much we value the strengths this diverse
population brings to our efforts.?
The Washington, DC, Experience Corps
program makes an effort to test its volunteers?
innovative ideas. In 2003 one of its mentors
suggested bringing all of its mentors and
mentees together for ?rap sessions? where
they would watch a video relevant to an issue
the kids and their mentors were struggling
to address and then talk about it as a group.
DC Experience Corps program director Ann
Birnbaum says the rap sessions have been a
big success and something they will incorporate
into the program. ?Allowing the volunteers to
come up with solutions and incorporating them
into the program gives them a higher sense of
ownership in the program.?
In Kansas City, Experience Corps helps older
volunteers to understand their importance in
the program through a special training event
called ?around the world.? It focuses on the era
in which the older volunteers grew up?what
the political scene was like at the time, what the
neighborhoods were like, what families were
doing, what the fad of the day was, what music
was like. The training then travels forward in
time to discuss how many aspects of our society
have broken down over the years. Kansas City
Experience Corps program manager Judith
Simmons says she uses the African proverb that
it takes a village to raise a child to make the point
that ?it?s up to the older generation to restore
societal cohesiveness and community again.?
Experience Corps | 35
Figuring Out the Dollars and Cents
While volunteers provide valuable services at a low cost, every good volunteer manager
knows that they are not free. Well-run programs budget for expenses such as sta
time, recruitment and screening, training, volunteer recognition, and evaluation.
Experience Corps programs, and similar ?national service? models, also budget for
stipends that encourage intensive service?12 to 15 hours a week or more?and that
o set the costs associated with volunteering several days per week. These costs may
include transportation, purchasing lunch near the service site, and incidental out-ofpocket
expenses. O ering a monthly stipend of $200-$300/month can help attract an
economically and racially diverse mix of older adults. It also enhances retention and
consistent service, particularly in lower-income communities.
How Much Will A Program Cost?
There is a great range in individual program costs; they depend primarily on the size
of the local program?the number of older adult volunteers, service sites, children,
and the types of local activities. In a 2001 report prepared on four Experience Corps
after-school pilot programs, researchers found the average budget was $124,000
per year. (See Heather E. Quick, Carmen Martinez-Sussmann, and Freya Makris,
?Experience Corps PM: Results from Year 2 of the Implementation Study,? American
Institutes for Research, 2001).
The biggest cost elements to budget for are:
Personnel. At least one staff person is required to manage the program, oversee
the work of the volunteers, provide training and periodic feedback, and conduct
evaluation activities. For smaller programs, staff may be part-time.
Stipends and Reimbursements to Volunteers. These costs include stipends for
those individuals who make a substantial time commitment to the program each
week and reimbursement of transportation expenses for volunteers who do not
receive a stipend.
Recruitment, Training, and Recognition. Include such expenses as design and
reproduction of yers and brochures; travel to community meetings; meeting
space and materials for training; identity items such as badges for volunteers to
wear during service; small rewards such as mugs, pins, T-shirts, award certi -
cates, or gift certi cates; and an annual celebration of accomplishments.
36 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Operating Costs. Think of these costs as being comparable to those typically
required for running a social service program, including space, supplies, insurance,
materials, transportation, and communications.
Evaluation. Plan for data collection, analysis, and communication related to the
impact of the program on children, older adults, and service sites.
Where Might You Find Funding?
Funding for Experience Corps after-school programs typically comes from a variety
of public and private sources, including businesses, individuals, foundations, and
government. The key, as with any social service program, is to try to diversify funding
sources to maximize the chances a program can be sustained over time.
If you are interested in developing a new program, or expanding an existing one, here
are some resources to consider:
AmeriCorps/Senior Corps/VISTA. Contact your state service commission and
state of ce of the Corporation for National and Community Service (www.
nationalservice.org/statepro les) to learn about opportunities to participate in
federally-funded service programs. This can be a way to design a program that
includes stipends for full- or part- time positions.
Regional and Community Foundations. Identify a list of potential foundations
and isolate a handful of most likely candidates to whom to submit individual
proposals. Look for foundations interested in healthy aging, volunteerism, civic
engagement, children, and after-school learning/enrichment. The Foundation
Center (http://fdncenter.org/funders/) is a good starting point for research on
this type of funding.
State and Local Funding. Don?t forget about state and local public funding
sources. Your local Community Development Block Grant Program is a good
place to start. (See http://www.hud.gov/o ces/cpd/). You can also contact the
o ce of the mayor, the school board, and/or county legislators.
School, Organization, and Individual Donations: Consider asking partners
who will bene t from your program?s services to make a small contribution to
offset a portion of the costs of running your program. Some Experience Corps
programs receive $5,000-$15,000 each year from sites where older adults serve
Host Agency Funds. The organization sponsoring the program can provide
in-kind support such as space, equipment use, workers? compensation insurance
for staff, and accounting services.
Experience Corps | 37
Evaluating the Experience:
What Difference Does It Make?
Every good program needs to build in evaluation as part of its design. Even if you
don?t have a research director or sophisticated evaluation tools at your disposal, you
can do some simple things to gather information about your program?s impact on the
people who deliver and receive services. What?s important is to decide at the beginning
of each program cycle what you want to evaluate, who?s going to be responsible
for getting information, and how you will go about gathering information from older
adults, children, and close observers such as teachers, after-school program managers,
or community-based organization directors. What you learn from this information-
gathering process can help you build on your program?s strengths, improve its
e ectiveness, and tell partners and funders about your success.
Written surveys, in-person interviews, observations of interactions between children
and older adults at di erent points in the year, and review of children?s work over
time are just a few examples of how you might learn about the progress and impact of
after-school activities. Be sure to get any required permission from parents or caregivers
before conducting evaluation directly with children.
The sample materials at the end of this tool kit include a few examples used by
Experience Corps projects, including an exit interview for volunteers, a participant
satisfaction survey, and a ?performance review? for tutors.
To get started on your own evaluation plan, take a look at these resources:
The Innovation Network is a national nonpro t organization that provides
program planning and evaluation consulting, training, and Web-based tools
to nonpro ts and funders. Their web site includes free access to a variety of
assessment tools, including an ?Evaluation Plan Builder.? See http://www.
A national After School Summit, held in Washington, DC from June 5-6,
2003, produced a report that includes a list of student participant performance
indicators in ve areas: academic, social, skill-building, health, and community
relationships. The list of indicators is followed by related evaluation measures
and program elements in each area. The summit was hosted by Arnold
Schwarzenegger and the U.S. Department of Education, and supported by the
Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. For the summary report, see http://www.
38 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
The Harvard Family Research Project's evaluation periodical, The Evaluation
Exchange, addresses current issues facing program evaluators of all levels. The
spring and summer 2004 issues address the challenges and possibilities for
evaluating after school programs. You can nd current and past issues at www.
gse.harvard.edu/hfrp/. You can also sign up on the web site, through the link to
The Out-of-School Time Learning and Development Project, for email updates
on out-of-school-time research.
The following materials, generated by local Experience Corps projects, are reproduced here to provide
you with ideas and inspiration. Feel free to copy the materials with appropriate attribution to Experience
Corps. Better yet, review the materials and adapt them to suit your own local programs and needs.
Sample Materials from Experience Corps Projects
40 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Sample Position Description ? San Francisco
Experience Corps | 41
Sample Position Description? Boston
42 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Sample Position Description ? Boston, pg. 2
Experience Corps | 43
Sample Recruitment Flier ? Boston
44 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Sample Recruitment Flier ? San Francisco
Experience Corps | 45
Sample Recruitment Flier ? Boston
46 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Sample Recruitment Flier ? Kansas City
Experience Corps | 47
Sample Recruitment Flier ? San Francisco
48 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Sample Recruitment Flier ? Washington, DC
Experience Corps | 49
Sample Application
50 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Sample Application ? pg. 2
Experience Corps | 51
Sample Application ? pg. 3
52 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Sample Volunteer Screening Interview Form
Experience Corps | 53
Sample Volunteer Screening Interview Form ? pg. 2
54 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Sample Volunteer Interview Summary Form
Experience Corps | 55
Sample Volunteer Interview Summary Form ? pg. 2
56 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Sample Code of Conduct ? Kansas City
Experience Corps | 57
Sample Volunteer Service Contract
58 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Sample Volunteer Service Contract ? pg. 2
Experience Corps | 59
Sample Mentor/Mentee Agreement Form
60 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Sample Staff Training Agenda
Experience Corps | 61
Sample Staff Training Agenda ? pg. 2
62 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Sample Pre-Service Training Agenda ? Boston
Experience Corps | 63
Sample Pre-Service Training Agenda ? San Francisco
64 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Sample Pre-Service Training Agenda ? San Francisco, pg. 2
Experience Corps | 65
Sample In-Service Training Agenda
66 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Sample Training Activity Evaluation Form
Experience Corps | 67
Sample Training Activity Evaluation Form ? pg. 2
68 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Sample Newsletter
Experience Corps | 69
Sample Newsletter ? pg. 2
70 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Sample Evaluation Form ? Tutoring Performance Review
Experience Corps | 71
Sample Evaluation Form ? Member Survey
72 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Sample Evaluation Form ? Member Survey, pg. 2
Experience Corps | 73
Sample Exit Interview Form
74 | Experience After School: Engaging Older Adults in After-School Programs
Sample Exit Interview Form ? pg. 2

About Experience Corps?
Experience Corps o ers new adventures in service for Americans over 55. Now in 12
cities, Experience Corps works to solve serious social problems, beginning with literacy.
Today more than 1,300 Corps members serve as tutors and mentors to children in
urban public schools and after-school programs, where they help teach children to
read and develop the con dence and skills to succeed in school and in life. Research
shows that Experience Corps boosts student academic performance, helps schools
and youth-serving organizations become more successful, strengthens ties between
these institutions and surrounding neighborhoods, and enhances the well-being of the
volunteers in the process. Experience Corps is a signature program of Civic Ventures.
About Civic Ventures
Civic Ventures is a national nonpro t organization that works to expand the
contributions of older Americans to society, and to help transform the aging of
American society into a source of individual and social renewal. Civic Ventures seeks
to tap the talents and skills of older Americans by developing avenues for meaningful
service to communities.
The graying of the American population is commonly portrayed as the source of
impending strife?the cause of a series of crises related to Social Security, Medicare,
greater strains on the family care system, and more. At a time when the middle-aged
population confronts ever-increasing demands on their time, and when public funding
is desperately short in education, Civic Ventures believes society can no longer a ord to
overlook an older population that should be an enormous resource.
2120 L St., NW ? Suite 400 ? Washington, DC 20037
info@experiencecorps.org ? www.experiencecorps.org