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Celebrating 60 Years of the AARP Foundation

Our charity, volunteer and service arm touches millions of older Americans every year

Jo Ann Jenkins
Jo Ann Jenkins
Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

 

For the past 60 years, AARP Foundation has been guided by founder Ethel Percy Andrus’ simple yet powerful idea that “it is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live.” ​

​AARP formed the foundation six decades ago to handle our philanthropic work with low-income Americans 50 and older in a more focused and flexible way. Over time, that principle ​has guided AARP Foundation as it has evolved to spark bold, innovative solutions that help vulnerable older adults build economic security and stay connected to their communities. ​

​It runs long-standing programs such as AARP Foundation Tax-Aide and the jobs-generating Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) — both started in 1968 — as well as AARP Foundation Litigation, started in 1998 to represent the legal issues of older Americans in the court system. AARP Foundation’s disaster relief efforts aid victims of earthquakes, floods and other tragedies. And its Experience Corps brings together older adults to tutor children who aren’t reading at grade level.

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​When I came to AARP to serve as president of AARP Foundation in 2010, we collaborated with NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports to launch the Drive to End Hunger campaign. We increased awareness that more than 10 million older adults were at risk of hunger every day. Through that program, AARP Foundation provided over 37 million meals and raised more than $11 million toward helping curtail food insecurity among low-income adults 50-plus. ​

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Some AARP Foundation highlights ​

​Learn more about AARP Foundation and its work.

​Today, under the leadership of Lisa Marsh Ryerson and her dedicated staff, AARP Foundation envisions a country where no older person feels vulnerable. It continues to innovate to make that vision a reality. ​

​The foundation brings together leaders in industry and government to find practical approaches to help people help themselves, focusing on areas that include the most serious issues facing Americans 50 and older: economic opportunity and social connection. ​

​AARP Foundation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is a shining example of our capabilities. Since the pandemic began, the foundation has served more than 2.76 million people, mostly low-income adults. We’ve helped them get training for good jobs, stave off hunger, receive tax refunds, avoid social isolation and find justice within the legal system. Through these initiatives, AARP Foundation has put nearly $2 billion back in the pockets of older Americans since 2020. ​

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​None of this would be possible without the hard work of over 45,000 volunteers and the generous contributions of the foundation’s donors. ​

​I am proud of the work AARP Foundation has done over the past 60 years. While it has continued to adapt to meet the immediate needs of older adults in times of crisis, it has never lost sight of its focus on changing the circumstances that threaten people’s well-being in the first place. With the continued support of our members and volunteers, it will be there for the next 60 years.​

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