First, midlifers who participate in AmeriCorps programs for a full year and earn an education award will now be able to use that money for their own education or, for the first time, to transfer that money — more than $5,000 in tuition — to their children or grandchildren.
Second, people over 55 who provide a minimum of 350 hours of service to any accredited community organization will earn Silver Scholarships, which provide them with a $1,000 education award that can be used for career training — or transferred to children or grandchildren.
Perhaps most important, the Serve America Act will stimulate nonprofit organizations to create higher-impact work and service opportunities for those 55 and up, support programs that enroll older adults, prompt national service programs to recruit more experienced people and encourage the design of programs that take advantage of their talents.
Given the problems facing our nation today, we can't afford to waste experience. The Serve America Act will mark the beginning of a new era, an era in which an aging society delivers more than challenges. It delivers solutions. That's something our kids will thank us for.
John S. Gomperts is president of Civic Ventures, former chief of staff at the Corporation for National and Community Service and former CEO of Experience Corps. His e-mail address is Jgompertscivicventures.org. For more information, go to http:// www.encore.org.
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