Benton Harbor, Michigan-AARP Foundation has awarded a grant to Cornerstone Alliance to conduct Work for Yourself@50+℠ workshops in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren Counties. This national grant initiative is designed to help vulnerable older adults assess opportunities for self-employment, build skills, and connect with resources that will enable them to generate income by working for themselves.

Cornerstone Alliance Small Business Services and the Women’s Business Center at Cornerstone Alliance offers a suite of services focused on the success of entrepreneurs at all levels from getting started to growing an existing small business.

“For many low-income older adults, self-employment and business ownership is an opportunity to change their future,” said Emily Allen, Senior Vice President AARP Foundation Programs. “AARP Foundation is proud to work with organizations like Cornerstone Alliance who are committed to helping older adults successfully run their own business. Our Work for Yourself@50+ program is designed to enable older adults to pursue self-employment by connecting them with trustworthy resources in their own communities.”

"Cornerstone Alliance is delighted to be a recipient of the AARP Foundation grant," said Stacey Stephens, Senior Director of Entrepreneurship and Special Projects. "This funding allows us to extend our reach to this demographic in the tri-county area we serve who may want to explore the opportunities of owning their own business.”

“It is wonderful to have additional resources to offer the senior workforce additional career options,” said Lynn Kellogg, CEO, Region IV Area Agency on Aging. “We look forward to working with Cornerstone Alliance on this initiative.”

“As a resource partner to Cornerstone Alliance supporting entrepreneurship, SCORE of Southwest Michigan works to make sure every person has the support necessary to thrive as a small business owner,” said Nancy Racine of SCORE. “We are prepared to work with the encore entrepreneurs who are ready to embark on this path.”

Through a nationwide open request for proposals, AARP Foundation, with support from The Hartford, identified and then selected promising organizations in high-need communities to receive grant awards and implement the Work for Yourself@50+ workshop model. The workshops help low-income adults 50 and older understand the pros and cons of self-employment and support them through the early steps that can lead to success.

“The Hartford is excited to work together with AARP Foundation on the Work forYourself@50+ program, empowering mature adults to build on their potential and to prevail as independent entrepreneurs,” said Diane Cantello, head of Corporate Sustainability for The Hartford. “Self-employment creates small businesses that contribute to the stability and vitality of their local communities.”

Working with AARP Foundation, each grantee will put together a plan in its community to:
•Publicize Work for Yourself@50+ resources and workshops to potential entrepreneurs
•Host and facilitate a 90-minute introductory workshop, designed by AARP Foundation, to walk participants through the Work for Yourself@50+ materials
•Connect program participants with local, accessible resources to help them take action on their income-generation plans

In addition to receiving grant funds, grantees will also participate in a community of practice and regular assessment to help build a body of knowledge about effective older-adult services and programs.

Creating and owning a business has long been heralded as a path to financial success and economic mobility; low-income older adults, however, face unique hurdles when re-entering the workforce in a nontraditional capacity. AARP Foundation’s and The Hartford’s investment in these grantees seeks to improve the lives of vulnerable populations by supporting and advancing effective solutions.

To learn more about the Work for Yourself@50+ initiative, please visit aarpfoundation.org/workforyourself or call 1-888-339-5617 to receive a free toolkit and sign up for a local workshop.

About Cornerstone Alliance

Cornerstone Alliance is a non-profit, investor-governed economic development organization primarily focused on increasing employment opportunities, private sector capital investments and the local tax base in Michigan's Great Southwest; with specialized business services offered in economically distressed areas.

About AARP Foundation

AARP Foundation works to ensure that low-income older adults have nutritious food, affordable housing, a steady income, and strong and sustaining social bonds. We collaborate with individuals and organizations who share our commitment to innovation and our passion for problem-solving. Supported by vigorous legal advocacy, we create and advance effective solutions that help struggling older adults transform their lives. AARP Foundation is the affiliated charity of AARP.

About The Hartford

The Hartford is a leader in property and casualty insurance, group benefits and mutual funds. With more than 200 years of expertise, The Hartford is widely recognized for its service excellence, sustainability practices, trust and integrity. More information on the company and its financial performance is available at thehartford.com.