Around 2005, Rose Community Foundation observed a surge of baby boomers opting for retirement in Denver, then the boomer capital of the nation. It was great for the retirees but left a huge void in the community.
“What I was seeing was a high level of individuals retiring at age 62 or 65, and I wondered what they were going to do next,” says RCF President and CEO Sheila Bugdanowitz. “It seemed like such an awful loss.
“I thought, these people are going to be doing something — but what, how and where?”
The issue was reciprocal, for this demographic did not want to retire from the community. In fact, the overwhelming majority put volunteerism at the top of the list.
RCF explored ways of mobilizing baby boomers (born from 1946-1964) in meaningful engagement with people who could benefit from this expertise and wisdom.
“We wanted to find a way to harness the talent and experience of boomers for the greater good of our community,” Bugdanowitz says.
“We just couldn’t get our arms around the ‘how.’”
The Atlantic Philanthropies Community Experience Partnership provided a solution in 2006, when it issued a call for proposals to community foundations around the country to form programs addressing a specific need.
Sixty-four responded, and 30 — including RCF — were selected for planning grants. Each foundation applied for matching grants. Out of the 30, the list was whittled down to 10.
One of the 10 declined. RCF and eight others accepted Atlantic’s challenge.
RCF initiated focus groups and surveyed almost 1,000 boomers to gauge the best way of achieving their mutual goal. The results were released in June, 2007.