AARP, The Hartford Aim to Assist Low Income Seniors Become Entrepreneurs

The Hartford has committed $1.4 million to the AARP Foundation to extend the Foundation’s Back to Work 50+ initiative to help low-income older adults assess opportunities to become entrepreneurs and create microenterprises. The three-year sponsorship, which broadens The Hartford's long-standing relationship with AARP, is part of The Hartford’s national philanthropic program. Communities with HART aims to "nurture the well-being of America’s communities by inspiring new generations of business leaders, enabling underserved neighborhood business owners to achieve growth and engaging the community in neighborhood business support," highlights the program description. “We are thrilled to sponsor the Back to Work 50+ program to educate and inspire older Americans who are interested in developing their own small businesses,” said Diane Cantello, vice president of Corporate Responsibility at The Hartford. “By encouraging entrepreneurship among older Americans, this program will help foster small business growth and contribute to the vibrancy of our communities.”1287788340353

“Older adults are redefining traditional approaches to work and careers,” said Lisa Marsh Ryerson, president of AARP Foundation. “While many want to continue to work or advance in their current jobs, a growing number want to generate income by using their talents and skills to start their own business or microenterprise. Through this effort, AARP Foundation stands ready to help by equipping them with the information and skills they need to achieve their goals.”aarp-logo

The recent announcement of this new sponsorship follows the one-year anniversary of The Hartford’s Communities with HART Program, a five-year initiative aimed at benefitting small businesses and supporting students through partnerships with the Accion U.S. Network (Accion) and Junior Achievement USA (JA).  In its first year, The Hartford announced a $1.25 million partnership with Accion to help small business owners who experience difficulty in accessing the traditional loans they need to sustain and grow their businesses. Accion manages the loan process, which focuses on community-oriented businesses in low-and-moderate income areas that hire and source locally, deliver social value and make a positive difference in their neighborhoods. With an initial focus in four key markets - Chicago, Hartford, San Antonio and San Diego – Communities with HART also provides training and web resources to help small business owners succeed.

The Hartford is also helping to inspire the next generation of small business owners as the title sponsor of the JA Company Program®, which includes a new online blended learning model and offers students the opportunity to launch their own small business while learning the basics of entrepreneurship, financial literacy and work readiness. With the help of a $1.5 million investment, JA has already seen more than a 25 percent increase in the number of JA Company Programs being conducted since the new program was rolled out across the country at the end of last year, according to company officials.


Fraud Watch Aims to Limit Costly Scams Targeting Elderly

Connecticut state agencies are collaborating, in concert with private sector organizations, to protect senior citizens from elder abuse.  In issuing an Executive Order, Governor Malloy directed agencies to identify ways to increase public awareness, reporting and social network support of elder abuse victims, consider ways to improve programs for elder abuse victims, and identify best practices in elder abuse prevention, detection and intervention. Recent surveys by AARP underscore the susceptibility of seniors to identity theft and fraud, reporting that seniors were likely to have engaged in behaviors including:fraud

  • Clicked on pop-up ads – 26 percent of victims and 10 percent of non-victims said they had done so in the previous seven days;
  • Opened an email from an unknown person – 27 percent of victims and 17 percent of non-victims said they had done so in the past seven days;
  • Signed up for free trial offers – 18 percent of victims and 8 percent of non-victims had done so in the previous week.

Fraud victims were also found to have experienced the following life experiences, which may have impacted the susceptibility statistics cited:

  • Sixty-six percent of victims and 42 percent of non-victims said they “often or sometimes feel isolated.”
  • Twenty-three percent of victims and 10 percent of non-victims said they had experienced loss of a job.
  • Forty-four percent of victims and 23 percent of non-victims said they had suffered a “negative change in financial status” in the past two years. fraud watch

Connecticut AARP is a member of the state’s Elder Justice Coalition Coordinating Council, which convened this summer, and one of the 16 agencies appointed by the Commissioner of the State Department on Aging to work on elder justice issues.  AARP is leading the Consumer Fraud Education workgroup which has hit the ground running with the recent launch of the AARP Fraud Watch Network – a national campaign that connects people to experts, law enforcement and people like them who can help them spot and avoid scams.

As part of the CT Elder Justice Coalition, AARP Connecticut is working with state, federal and community organizations across the state utilizing Fraud Watch Network resources to educate older adults and their families about scams and provide tools and information to prevent identity theft and fraud.

Fairfield Chief of Police, Gary MacNamara, representing the CT Police Chiefs Association and a member of the CT Elder Justice Coalition, stated, “Police officers understand efforts to prevent our community members from being victims is really important.  The first step in prevention is awareness.  The AARP Fraud Watch Network provides a great place for older adults and families to get accurate information and become aware of the threat.”seniorlady-570x230

Last fall, a survey of nearly 2,400 U.S. adults age 40 and older conducted by the FINRA Foundation revealed that financial fraud solicitations are commonplace.  Many Americans are unable to spot fraudulent sales pitches, and older Americans (age 65 and older) are particularly vulnerable.

Specific findings include:

  • Over 80 percent of respondents have been solicited to participate in potentially fraudulent schemes, and over 40 percent of those surveyed cannot identify some classic red flags of fraud.
  • More than 8 in 10 respondents were solicited to participate in a potentially fraudulent offer. And 11 percent of all respondents lost a significant amount of money after engaging with an offer.
  • More than 4 in 10 respondents found an annual return of 110 percent for an investment appealing, and 43 percent found "fully guaranteed" investments to be appealing.
  • Americans age 65 and older are more likely to be targeted by fraudsters and more likely to lose money once targeted.

According to AARP volunteer and Executive Council member, Byron Peterson, “Identity theft, investment fraud and scams rob hard-working Americans of billions of dollars each year – with older adults often the biggest targets.  Through the AARP Fraud Watch Network, we’re arming people with information about what makes them vulnerable and giving them access to the tools they need to outsmart con artists before they strike.”AARP

The FINRA Foundation's survey found that 64 percent of those surveyed had been invited to an "educational" investment meeting that was likely a sales pitch. Additionally, 67 percent of respondents said they had received an email from another country offering a large amount of money in exchange for an initial deposit or fee. Upon being solicited for fraud, older respondents were 34% more likely to lose money than respondents in their forties.

In collaboration with partner agencies and organizations, AARP staff and volunteers are making fraud prevention presentations to community groups and encouraging all residents to sign up for watchdog alerts and stay abreast of current scams through the AARP Fraud Watch Network.  Available free of charge to AARP members and non-members alike, and people of any age, the Fraud Watch Network provides an array of educational information and access to individuals who share experiences and provide expertise.

Growing Aging Population Brings Shifting Priorities, Possibilities

“Given the gift of longer life, better health, greater engagement and more possibilities, the fifty-plus generation of today holds new and very different ideals,” A. Barry Rand, CEO of AARP, told a  national AARP convention audience in Boston last week that included more than 250 people from Connecticut. “The old story of aging was about freedom from work. The new story is about freedom to do something different,” he said of what was described as “The Age of Possibilities- America’s second aging revolution.”

With one of the nation’s largest populations of older citizens on a percentage basis, the changes ring especially true in Connecticut. Past U.S. Census data, for example, indicates that Connecticut has consistently ranked in new-aarp-logo---resized-800x600the top tier of states in the percentage of residents age 65 and older, and as high as 5th (2010 census) in the percentage of population age 85 and olderThe Connecticut Post reported back in 2010 that Connecticut,  in less than a decade, moved from 15th in state rankings by the U.S. Census Bureau of people 65 years old and over to ninth-place -- seventh if those 60 and over are counted.

Between 2000 and 2010, Connecticut’s 65 and older population grew by 7.7 percent and the states’ 85 and older population grew by 32.1 percent, according to the U.S. Census.   Rand cited a series of national statistics that not only underscored his premise, but reflect that the demographic shift is already underway. Rand noted:

  • Most people turning 50 today can expect to live another 30-plus years.
  • They have over half their adult lives ahead of them. That’s more time than they spent in childhood, in adolescence, and for many, it’s more time than they spent working.
  • By 2030, one in every three Americans will have reached the age of 50.
  • At the same time, 10,000 people a day are turning 65 — and that will continue for the next 17 years.
  • The fastest growing age group consists of people 85-plus.
  • We’re quickly approaching a time when people 65 and older will outnumber children 15 and under for the first time in history.

“This reflects a monumental change in our social structure and how we live our lives,” Rand said.  AARP officials said that in Connecticut over the next 15 years (2010 to 2025), the total population is projected to grow by 275,254, an increase of eight percent. When looked at by age group, however, more distinct differences emerge:

  • The percentage of individuals under age 18 will decrease by 11 percent.
  • The percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 64 will only increase by three percent.
  • In contrast, the percent of individuals age 65 and over will increase substantially, by 63 percent, due to the aging of the Baby Boom generation.

The Populations Reference Bureau reports that projections of the entire older population (which includes the pre-baby-boom cohorts born before 1946) suggest that 71.4 million people will be age 65 or older in 2029.

In Connecticut, when the state Department on Aging was established last year, officials indicated that the 65 and older population made up 14 percent of the state's population and was expected to grow to 21.5 percent of the population by 2030.



Encore Entrepreneurs – Over 50 and Building New Businesses

Mix a relatively slow economy and a shortage of jobs with a large number of aging boomers looking for meaning and purpose in their work. The result is a growing number of “encore entrepreneurs” seeking to launch income-generating ventures that make a positive difference in their communities.

That has led the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and AARP to launching a strategic alliance to provide counseling and training to entrepreneurs over the age of 50 who want to start or grow a small business.   AARP

April is Encore Entrepreneur Mentor Month, and would-be “encore entrepreneurs” will have the opportunity to connect with a number of organizations and community leaders for advice and assistance in their endeavors as part of seminars held as part of the AARP-SBA initiative.

Next up in Connecticut:  a free seminar, Want to Start or Grow a Small Business?, at the Hartford Public Library on Wednesday, April 23, 2-4 PM, at 500 Main Street.  Space is limited. Interested individuals can register online or call toll-free 877-926-8300.   There will also be a session in New Haven on May 15.

For many Americans born between 1946 and 1964, retirement has a very different meaning than it did a generation ago.   According to a USA Today/Gallup poll, 63% of American adults plan to work in retirement; two-thirds say enjoyment of work is the key reason. With years of valuable work experience, maturity, and plenty of energy at their disposal, today's older workers are increasingly finding financial and personal fulfillment in running their own small businesses.entrepreneur

New research released by (formerly Civic Ventures) and funded by the MetLife Foundation shows:sba-logo-300x121

  • Approximately 25 million people – one in four Americans ages 44 to 70 – are interested in starting businesses or nonprofit ventures in the next five to 10 years.
  • More than 12 million of these aspiring entrepreneurs are potential encore entrepreneurs who want to make a positive social impact as well as a living.  Potential encore entrepreneurs have realistic financial expectations and plan local, small ventures to meet needs in their communities.
  • These aspiring entrepreneurs bring a lot of experience to the table, including an average of 31 years of work experience and 12 years of community involvement. Additionally, five out of six report having management experience – 15 years on average.

A 2010 survey by the Kauffman Foundation found that Americans 55 to 64 start new business ventures at a higher rate than any other age group, including 20-somethings. Fully 23 percent of new entrepreneurs were age 55 to 64, up from 14 percent in 1996.

The first event in Connecticut was held in Bridgeport in late January, followed by Danbury in early April.  An additional program is slated for New Haven on May 15 (2 to 4 PM) at Gateway Community College.

Yale-New Haven Hospital Ranked Among Best Employers in USA for Workers Over 50

Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) in New Haven is being honored by AARP and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) as one of the 2013 Best Employers for Workers Over 50.  YNHH, which ranked 23rd in the nationwide survey, joins a diverse group of health systems, corporations, government agencies, and non-profits from across the country on the list, announced this week by AARP and SHRM.  It is the lone Connecticut-headquartered organization on the list of the top 50.

Thirty percent of YNHH employees are age 50+ with an average tenure of 18 years. YNHH offers a number of programs and benefits that support mature workers, including tuition reimbursement and training opportunities, fleAARPxible work schedules and alternative work arrangements, free health screenings and wellness programs, financial and retirement planning and dependent care benefits.

One program of particular interest to mature employees at YNHH is the ‘School at Work Program’.  This seven month refresher educational program is for individuals who have been out of a traditional learning setting for a significant time period and prepares the employee for additional formal education or a career change.

In addition, Retiree Medical Accounts are offered for employees retiring at age 55+ with at least ten years of service.  The medical account is funded annually, starting at age 40, and the retiree can use the funds after retirement for medical expenses and insurance premiums.

Also on the national list of Best Companies, at number 27, is Cianbro a national construction engineering firm with a regional office on East Dudley Town Road in  Bloomfield, Connecticut.  Cianbro self-performs civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, instrumentation, fabrication, and coating, in twelve different mynhh1arkets, throughout the United States. The company has experience in Construction Management, Design-Build, and Engineer Procure Construct (EPC), in addition to Conventional Design-Bid-Build.

This year’s list of the top 50 organizations was led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one of the world’s premiere medical research institutions.  Scripps Health of Southern California, which headed the list in 2011, is runner-up this year.  Rounding out the top 10 are Atlantic Health System, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Mercy Health System, The YMCA of Greater Rochester, West Virginia University, Bon Secours Virginia, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and WellStar Health System.

Key areas of consideration include: recruiting practices; opportunities for training, education and career development; workplace accommodations; alternative work options, such as flexible scheduling, job sharing and phased retirement; employee health and retirement benefits, and retiree work opportunities. The list of 2013 winners includes employers from a variety of industry sectors, including for-profit and nonprofit, health care, universities, financial services, construction, aerospace, and federal and county government.

Among Connecticut-based organizations, Yale-New Haven Hospital was previously honored as a Best Employer for Workers Over 50 in 2005 and 2006.  Past winners from Connecticut also include CTTRANSIT, Pitney Bowes and Hartford Financial.

Announcement of the top 50 came jointly by AARP and SHRM, which is co-sponsoring the Best Employers program for the first time. SHRM is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management.

CT AARP Steps Up Focus on Entrepreneurs, Business Development

Next month, AARP and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are teaming up to host National Encore Entrepreneur Mentor Month, targeted at new business owners age 50 and over and those interested in starting a business.  The goal is to match these “encore entrepreneurs” with experienced business owners and community leaders for advice and assistance, and to link them to the resources they need to successfully start and grow their businesses and create jobs. Consistent with the organizations’ mission, the Connecticut AARP chapter views social enterprise as a valuable opportunity for age 50+ entrepreneurs – also known as “Encore Entrepreneurs” – and active retirees with sharp business and entrepreneurial acumen.  With one in four Americans ages 44 to 70 interested in becoming entrepreneurs, and a large majority planning to work during retirement, small business ownership is described as a solid option.

In addition to planned programs during April, the Connecticut AARP has announced support for legislation proposed by Governor Malloy’s (SB6356) which would help AARP members formalize their commitment to creating public good. The bill is designed to help address a variety of social concerns, through business rather than public funds or philanthropy, that are core to AARP’s mission, such as hunger, economic insecurity, housing and isolation.  AARP has ongoing partnerships with the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA), nationally and state-wide, and with co41592_130564031656_4369100_nmmunity partners in Connecticut including Social Enterprise Trust (reSET) and the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC).

The bill before the legislature aims to help attract and keep social entrepreneurs and social enterprise investors in Connecticut and provides a heightened level of transparency and protection as compared to other states with similar legislation, according to AARP. Among the beneficiaries:  “Encore Entrepreneurs” seeking purpose beyond profit, community based organizations seeking to partner for social benefits, age 50+ workers seeking employment opportunities in a down economy, and the State by creating a new source of revenue through the payment of up-front incorporation filing fees and annual taxes.

National Encore Entrepreneur Mentor Month is part of a larger effort by AARP and SBA to promote entrepreneurship among individuals ages 50+.  It will consist of events across the country, including two in Connecticut, on April 16 in Waterbury and April 18 in Bridgeport, that will link individuals with local resources and mentor opportunities to help them successfully start and grow a small business.

The initiative includes AARP’s Work Reimagined, a unique new way for experienced workers to advance themselves in today’s tight job market.  Work Reimagined is a social network based jobs program that connects employers seeking experienced workers with qualified professionals searching for new or more satisfying careers.  The site,, leverages the platform of professional networking site, LinkedIn, which is used by more than 15 million people aged 45-64.

AARP’s Work Reimagined and other resources for experienced workers over age 50 are slated to be highlighted in a segment on WTNH’s Connecticut Style program airing Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:30 p.m.

The in-person AARP/SBA workshops in April will feature presentations by SBA, SCORE, reSET (Social Enterprise Trust), The Women’s Business Development Council (WBDC), People’s Bank and local economic development agencies.  Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and speak individually with representatives, as well as network with other small business owners and “would be” entrepreneurs. Registration is required.

April 16, 2013 in Waterbury   9 a.m. – 12 p.m. (noon)

Silas Branson Library, 267 Grand Street, Waterbury, CT

To register, call 1-877-926-8300 or register online

April 18, 2013 in Bridgeport   9 a.m. – 12 p.m. (noon)

City Hall Annex, 999 Broad Street, Bridgeport, CT

To register, call 1-877-926-8300 or register online.


Efforts to End Hunger Among Seniors, Children in CT

AARP Connecticut is teaming up with End Hunger Connecticut and Foodshare, a  nonprofit serving Hartford and Tolland counties, to enroll more qualified state residents in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. AARP reports that in Connecticut  more than 386,000 residents receive help paying for groceries each month under the program, but that only 34% of adults age 60-plus who are eligible for SNAP have enrolled - many because they didn't know they were eligible. State residents 60-plus may qualify if their monthly income is less than $1,680 for an individual or $2,268 for a couple.

Foodshare recently announced that in 2011, 3,685 Foodshare volunteers contributed over 38,000 hours to advance their local efforts to support people in need of food.

And last week, End Hunger Connecticut launched the state's participation in No Kid Hungry, a national initiative to end huger among children by 2015.  It has been estimated that there are 127,000 children in Connecticut who are going hungry.  The organization will be sponsoring the state's first School Breakfast Summit on May 4 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.