July 19, 2010 | last updated May 29, 2012 8:52 pm
NONPROFIT NOTEBOOK

Encore!Hartford Eases Path For Jobless Execs

Several local nonprofits have figured out a way to turn the economic downturn into an opportunity.

Though the statistics remain grim — a November University of Connecticut/ Connecticut Association of Nonprofits survey found that 43 percent of Greater Hartford nonprofits had laid off employees in the past two years — hope may lie in tapping into an often overlooked group of aspiring do-gooders, unemployed 40- to 85-year-olds.

For the past two years, Encore!Hartford, a 16-week workforce transition program that includes education, job shadowing and a fellowship, has been offering a way for many mid-career and traditional retirement-aged corporate and public-service professionals to break into managerial jobs in the nonprofit sector. The multi-state agency program partners with Leadership Greater Hartford and other Connecticut agencies to address the employment needs of Connecticut's aging population, while helping the state's nonprofit sector.

According to a Connecticut Commission on Aging Report — authored by UConn School of Social Work professor Waldo Klein — Connecticut has the seventh oldest population in the U.S. with a projected 20 percent of its workforce reaching age 55 by the end of this year.

"Prior to Encore!Hartford, 22 of these 23 unemployed corporate professionals had never made the first cut to be interviewed by a nonprofit," said David Garvey, director of the Nonprofit Leadership Program Center for Continuing Studies at University of Connecticut.

As of July 8, 14 days after the program's completion, Garvey said 10 Encore!Hartford graduates had full or part-time job offers.

Rob Toller is one of them.

"When I first read about Encore!Hartford in January, I thought, 'what a perfect way to get a job and to give back to my community'. When you're out of a job in this challenging job market, any little bit of hope, education and service is much welcomed," said Toller. "But I must tell you that the first couple of weeks I had my doubts about my skill match to the program. After one of our classes, I chatted with our Encore!Hartford leaders, Doe and David. 'What nonprofit is going to be interested in an organizational and training consultant,' I demanded. 'Nonprofits need all of your skills', Doe assured me."

During Toller's fellowship at Community Health Center Inc. of Middletown, he received a call from the Hospital of Saint Raphael. Three weeks ago, he accepted a job in its organizational development and training department.

"The Encore!Hartford program helped me and 22 others with the ability and confidence to understand and meet the daily nonprofit challenges. One word to describe what Encore!Hartford gave me? Confidence. The confidence to understand and utilize my skills to positively serve others," Toller said.

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Grant for Oak Hill

Oak Hill received $10,269 from the Ronald McDonald House Charities to support its assistive technology resource center and children's lending library. The NEAT Center at Oak Hill brings people with disabilities, their families and the professionals who work with them together with products, new and used equipment, training and services that enhance the independence and quality of life for people of all ages.

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