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NCOA Awarded $139.4 Million to Help Low-Income Older Adults Find Work

Labor Department grant provides training and a path to permanent employment

The National Council on Aging (NCOA), a trusted national leader working to ensure that every person can age well, has been awarded $139.4 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to continue its 55-year track record of administering the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), the nation's only jobs program specifically for low-income older adults.

Under the 4-year grant, NCOA will continue managing 25 SCSEP offices throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico, which each year help nearly 6,000 individuals aged 55+ build their skills and self-confidence while earning a modest income.

"SCSEP is a win-win program for older adults who need to keep working and for employers who value the wisdom and expertise of older workers," said NCOA President and CEO Ramsey Alwin. "In 2018 alone, our SCSEP participants provided more than 2.6 million hours of service at more than 770 employers, including nonprofit, government, and private sector organizations."

Created in 1965, SCSEP matches eligible older adults with part-time training assignments, which usually lead to permanent employment. To be eligible, an individual must be aged 55+, unemployed, and living on a family income of no more than 125% of the federal poverty level ($21,550 for a two-person household in 2020).

"Even before the pandemic, older workers were facing multiple obstacles to staying in the labor force," Alwin added. "COVID has only exacerbated these disparities. NCOA is incredibly proud to continue managing SCSEP, which enables older adults to continue working and maintain their financial security."

A recent study by The New School found that close to 5 million older Americans lost jobs between March and July 2020 due to the pandemic. Job loss varied by gender and race, with 19% of non-White older adults becoming unemployed. Researchers noted that most job loss was in the manufacturing and service sectors, which employ larger numbers of older non-White adults and women.

"As the economy recovers and more Americans return to work, we must re-engage older workers at every step," Alwin said. "We know from recent history that age discrimination increases during recessions. Older workers who want to return to the workforce must have every advantage to do so. The longer a person stays in the workforce, the more they pay into Social Security and the greater chance they have to save for retirement."

The total value of the NCOA SCSEP grant is $154,949,642, of which $139,454,678 (90%) is federally funded and $15,494,964 (10%) is non-federally funded. For more information, visit


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