The Plus 50 Initiative at Clark College
In April 2008, Clark College was selected as one of five “Mentor Colleges” nationally for the Plus 50 Initiative. The Plus 50 Initiative is conducted by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to benchmark and showcase the most current and innovative programs at community colleges to engage the 50+ learner.
Clark’s Plus 50 grant, advanced by Corporate and Continuing Education and Mature Learning, has two objectives: developing new programs focused on building second careers and showcasing the high quality educational and cultural enrichment courses offered at the college for those 55 and older since its inception by Dr. Alfred Aplser in 1973.
In its role as a mentor college, Clark's initial focus was supporting efforts by the Western Dakota Technical Institute (WDTI), located in Rapid City, S.D., to develop and pilot a national training model for baby boomers who want to become seasonal rangers and interpretive guides at national parks.
To bring history to life, Clark College representatives -- including Executive Director of Corporate and Continuing Education Todd Oldham and Continuing Education Program Manager Tracy Reilly Kelly -- welcomed leaders of WDTI and AACC at Fort Vancouver National Historic site.
Those taking part in the tour in August 2008 included retired Air Force captain Kim Morey, Director of WDTI’s Plus 50 Initiative, as well as AACC representatives Mary Sue Vickers and Katya Nekrasova who serve, respectively, as Executive Director and Program Associate for the national Plus 50 Initiative. The host for the visit was Clark College President Robert K. Knight, whose last duty in the U.S. Army was serving as Commander of the Vancouver Barracks. Elson Strahan, President and CEO of the Vancouver Historic Reserve, and Tracy Fortmann, Fort Vancouver Park Superintendent, also accompanied the group.
An additional small expansion grant for 20092-2010 was awarded to Clark College, Community Colleges of Spokane and Clover Park Technical to host a regional workforce development conference. The conference, which will focus on training and services for baby boomers, is scheduled for Feb. 10 at Clark College at Columbia Tech Center. The college expects to welcome representatives from 30 community colleges in Washington and Oregon.
In addition to the Plus 50 initiative, resources for Plus 50 learners are available through a number of regional organizations.