SCSEP: A Unique Workforce Development Program

SCSEP is designed to respond to the needs of these older job seekers with barriers to employment. Authorized by the Older Americans Act, SCSEP provides unemployed, low-income adults 55 years and older with part-time jobs working in local nonprofit, government, and faith-based agencies providing services in the community. Working in their community service assignments, SCSEP participants earn income while they build their self-confidence and learn skills valued by local employers. 

All SCSEP participants are at least 55 years old and have a family income less than 125% of poverty ($15,950 for family of one).

  • 88% had family incomes less than 100% of federal poverty guidelines;

  • 48% were from a racial or ethnic minority, 65% were women, and 18% had at least one disability;

  • 31% were 65 or older, including 5% who were 70 years or older;

  • 19% had less than a high school diploma; and

  • 13% were veterans or qualified spouses.


Similarly, SCSEP delivers a “triple win” for our nation:

  • Healthy Aging.

    • 91% of SCSEP participants reported that their physical health is the same or better than before they entered SCSEP, and

    • 73% reported that their outlook on life is a little more or much more positive. (Source: national survey of 10,668 participants funded by USDOL conducted by Charter Oak Group, 2014.)

  • Employment Opportunities and Economic Security.

    • 45% of SCSEP participants exit into unsubsidized employment. (Source: USDOL official reports, 2014)

  • Social Impact of Community Service Employment.

    • Last year, SCSEP participants provided more than 35.7 million staff hours to 21,000 local public and nonprofit agencies, such as libraries, schools, and senior centers last year. The value of these community service hours—using Independent Sector estimates—exceeded $806 million, nearly twice the total SCSEP appropriations of $432 million. (Source: USDOL official reports, 2014)

    • 76% of host agencies indicated that participation in SCSEP either significantly or somewhat increased their ability to provide services to the community (Source: national survey of 7,446 agencies funded by USDOL conducted by Charter Oak Group, 2014.)

    • In a Digital Inclusion Initiative between 2009 and 2012, more than 550 SCSEP participants served as peer coaches in 354 sites and taught more than 25,000 older learners how to create and use an email account and search the Internet.

A growing number of older Americans are poor or at risk of poverty, and the job market is especially challenging to them. The jobless rate of workers who are 55 years or older and earn less than $20,000 per year is three times higher than for older workers in general, and older workers take twice as long as younger workers to find employment. The human toll of this long-term joblessness on the emotional as well as financial well-being of older men and women has been thoroughly documented.

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