AARP Foundation Experience Corps engages highly trained adults 50-plus to help children attain reading and writing proficiency proficiency by the end of the third grade so that they may succeed and older adults may thrive. Research demonstrates that Experience Corps is one of the most effective K-3 literacy interventions, generating enduring positive outcomes for students, volunteers, schools and communities. With its intergenerational approach, the program not only helps students at a critical juncture in their education but also engages volunteers in their communities, putting their wisdom to work while guiding the next generation of readers.
We’re working closely with municipalities, community agencies and school districts across the country to expand the Experience Corps network.
The five-step process for starting an Experience Corps program has grown from our understanding of the critical success factors involved in building and sustaining robust local programs. Experience Corps programs are run by host agencies, typically nonprofits or local municipalities.
The process begins when a prospective host agency makes an inquiry. General inquiries can be submitted to ExperienceCorps@aarp.org. Upon receiving an inquiry, our director of Field Services will contact the agency and provide it with an initial information packet.
If the information interests the prospective host, the organization can request to participate in an orientation. During the orientation the AARP Foundation Experience Corps team will present basic information on what it takes to launch and build a successful Experience Corps affiliate.
If there appears to be a good fit, promising prospective organizations are invited to complete an application to affiliate. AARP Foundation Experience Corps accepts inquiries and applications on a rolling basis. The timeline from inquiry to invitation to affiliate varies depending on the applicant. The application must, however, be received by the end of the year (no later than December 5) to start up a program in the fall of the following school year.
Favorable applications are followed by site visits, which provide AARP Foundation Experience Corps staff with a richer understanding of the community and prospective host as well as allow both parties to think through implementation and practical questions.
Once the due diligence is complete, and if both entities are positioned to move forward, AARP Foundation Experience Corps will extend an invitation to affiliate.
The overall investment depends on how many schools or service sites you intend to operate and what internal resources you can commit to the program. After that, host staffing structure and growth plans drive operating costs.
AARP Foundation does not fund programs directly but may provide limited funds by sub-granting funding to host agencies. Our federal funding includes AmeriCorps and Department of Justice grants, and sub-grants are made on a competitive basis to programs in good standing.
The primary role of the AARP Foundation Experience Corps national office is to support local communities as they build and strengthen their programs. We do this by providing multiple types of support, including training and start-up consultation, organizational development support, communications and marketing support, branded materials, access to a network of experts, and an annual national meeting. Additional resources include guidance in volunteer recruitment, fund development and access to AARP state office support.
Your agency or city leadership would be the first place to start to discuss fit and the ability to support and sustain the program for the long term. We build partnerships with local nonprofits when mission alignment and organizational capacity are conducive to program success.
When considering a prospective host agency, we consider several factors.