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VAN Forum

2nd Annual Forum on Boomers and Civic Engagement

May 11, 2009
8:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Lester Strong, CEO, Experience Corps, Washington D.C.
Jim Scheibel, former Mayor, St. Paul, former Director, AmeriCorps, VISTA, National Senior Service Corps.
Presentations from leading MN nonprofits

Century College
East Campus - Lincoln Mall
3300 Century Avenue N.
White Bear Lake, MN 55110

 At this Forum you will:

  • Hear about the major service initiatives developed by the Obama administration
  • Learn what actions Minnesota nonprofits have taken to engage Boomer volunteers
  • Identify barriers and best practices in engaging Boomers
  • Ascertain how the economic downturn has affected retirement
  • Develop and network about strategies and what’s next for nonprofits and retirees


Last May, over 400 people gathered to attend the Harvard School of Public Health – MetLife Foundation Initiative on Retirement and Civic Engagement. This Forum is a follow-up for you to discuss actions and strategies for engaging Boomers in 2009 and beyond.


Co-sponsors for this Forum include: AARP Minnesota, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities, Century College, HandsOn Twin Cities, Mentoring Partnership of MN, Minnesota Alliance with Youth, MN Association for Volunteer Administrators (MAVA), ServeMinnesota, Twin Cities Public Television (tpt), and United Way Caring Connection.

Registration fee: $10
(includes continental breakfast)
Pre-registration required - Registration deadline is May 8.
To register online click the Order Now button below.

To pay by check, send your check to:
Vital Aging Network
2365 N. McKnight Rd.
N. St. Paul, MN 55109
Please include your name and email address



Discussion Responses from the Forum are now available

To view the first set of responses, click here.

To see the 2nd set of responses, click here.

To view general discussion quesitons, click here.

To view Lee George's Volunteer Paradigm Shift article, click here.

To read a summary of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, click here.

For additional information visit,

VAN’s May Forum on Boomers and Civic Engagement Attracts 245 Engaged Adults

“Older adults are interested in meaningful opportunities to become engaged in their neighborhoods and communities”, stated Lester Strong, CEO of Experience Corps and keynote speaker at VAN’s May 12th Forum on Boomers and Civic Engagement. If you agree with this statement, you are not alone.

A crowd of 245 interested older adults and representatives of the nonprofit and public sectors from across Minnesota participated in the 2nd annual Forum on Boomers and Civic Engagement. They discussed the barriers to and opportunities for engaging adults aged 50+ and learned about the new federal Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.

VAN cosponsored the forum, held at Century College, with the Invisible Force Collaborative. Invisible Force is a collection of eleven Minnesota nonprofits whose mission is to create a new paradigm for involving people who are 50+ in their communities through volunteering and civic engagement. The collaborative is helping organizations to prepare for the growing wave of older adults who want to give back to their communities in a way that has personal meaning and adds to the professionalism of the organizations.

Presenters at the forum shared details about the Serve America Act signed into law by President Obama in early May. Jim Scheibel, former St. Paul mayor and former Director of AmeriCorp, Vista, and the National Service Corps, emceed the event.

Scheibel stated, “This Act is a dramatic expansion of opportunities for service among people of all ages, setting a path for increasing the number of AmeriCorps members to 250,000 and ensuring that 10% of the funds be directed to participants 55 and older. It creates Silver Scholar educational awards and a new Encore Fellowship Program.”

Bonnie Esposito, member of the VAN Leadership Group and Executive Director of Accountability Minnesota, moderated a panel of nonprofit leaders on the cutting edge of organizations that meaningfully engage older adults. Organizations represented on the panel included:

  • HandsOn Twin Cities
  • MN Association of Volunteer Administration
  • RSVP
  • ServeMinnesota
  • The Vital Aging Network

Each agency shared its successes and challenges in working with highly talented volunteers who want to offer their skills and make a difference.

Following VAN’s tradition of engaging all participants at its forums, each of the 40 tables had a facilitator who led small-group discussions on how the downturn in the economy is affecting retirement and identifying at least one action step that each attendee will take to be more engaged in the coming year.

Participants also shared their experiences as volunteers and identified needed policy changes to make it easier for an older person to participate actively. One of the most commonly identified issues was the need for stipends in the economy today.

The Forum ended with Honor Roll Recognitions for twelve organizations in Minnesota that have served as catalysts for change, leading the state in efforts to engage older volunteers meaningfully. Nonprofit recipients this year include:

  • Ignatian Volunteer Corps
  • Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration
  • RSVP sponsored by VOA MN
  • Experience Corps Minneapolis and St. Paul
  • SHiFT
  • Twin Cities Public Television
  • The Vital Aging Network

Educational and Public-Sector recipients include:

  • Carver County
  • Century College
  • Dakota County and DARTS
  • Hennepin Libraries


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