Richland reaches out to other Texas colleges to join Plus 50 Initiative

Richland College’s Boomers Program is helping other community colleges to engage the 50+ population.

In June, the college hosted a day-long Plus 50 Initiative Texas Expansion Conference for 14 community colleges, including DCCCD sister colleges. The conference, supported by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and Atlantic Philanthropies, provided information for community colleges developing Plus 50 Initiative programs. Topics included collaboration between departments; marketing and promotion; obtaining college support; stakeholders; appropriate teaching styles; programs that work; and program challenges.

“We are excited to share information about the Plus 50 Initiative and to see the enthusiasm of other community colleges as they build or expand their Plus 50 programs,” Richland’s Boomers Program Outreach Coordinator Teresa Love said. “The conference included very informative panel discussions containing both students and faculty. During these discussions, the panelists addressed student motivation and effective teaching methods for Plus 50 students.”

AACC is expansion of the Plus 50 Initiative is to promote community colleges as the primary place where Plus 50s can learn, train, and find ways to contribute to society. Mary Sue Vickers, AACC Plus 50 Initiative director, said Richland is already a leader in reaching this age group and can help other colleges that are starting or adding to their programs.

“Two innovative topics on the agenda of Richland’s conference that I thought were most helpful for those beginning or expanding Plus 50 Initiative programming were on successful instructional practices for Plus 50 students and tips on assessing current administrative procedures from the point of view of the Plus 50 student,” Ms. Vickers said. “We are hopeful that the community colleges attending the conference will continue to work with Richland College and implement or expand upon their existing programming, providing additional options for plus 50 students at their community college.”

During the conference, Richland’s Boomers Program Director Mitzi Werther and Ms. Love discussed “How to Get Started” (obtaining institutional support, stakeholders, and assessing current administrative procedures). This segment included a panel of key, participating instructional department heads and a panel of Richland Plus 50 students and instructors. The panels addressed “What Works: Great Instructional Practices, Expectations, and Tips for Sustainability.” The afternoon concluded with Richland presentations on “Profiles in Excellence: Popular Class Topics;” “Volunteer Programs;” “Boomer News;” “Volunteer Connection Fair;” and “What’s Next?”

In 2008, Richland was one of 15 college chosen to pilot the Plus 50 Initiative. Since then, the program has grown to include dozens of colleges across the United States. From 2009 to 2014, the Plus 50 population in Richland’s service area is projected to grow by more than 102 percent, from 89,000 to 180,000. The Plus 50 population currently makes up 14 percent of Richland’s service area, and is projected to comprise 28 percent by 2014. To learn more about Richland’s Boomers Program (part of the college’s Emeritus Program), visit www.richlandcollege.edu/boomers.