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Life by Design

A new program offers life-planning and career-transition help for adults who aren't ready for traditional retirement

Portland's workforce is shifting dramatically with the changing demographics and needs of the baby boomer population. But that can be a tremendous asset for employers, communities and older workers alike, say the creators of a new life-planning and career-transition program called Life by Design NW.

A coalition of nine businesses and community organizations developed Life by Design NW to help older adults, including those contemplating retirement, plan the next phase of their lives, be it voluntarism, non-profit work or 're-employment.'

'Portland is the perfect place, and now is the perfect time, to help boomers find their 'encore' careers to transform work in Oregon and help improve their communities at the same time,' said Marc Freedman, an author, social entrepreneur and founder of the San Francisco-based think tank Civic Ventures, who helped launch the program April 10 at Portland Community College's Central campus.

The 65-plus population is expected to grow nearly 137 percent in less than 20 years, comprising nearly one of every five Oregonians, according to the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis. Recent reports by Multnomah County's Vital Aging Task Force and AARP Oregon show that 70 to 80 percent of older adults will be working in some capacity in their later years, whether it's because they have to or they want to.

'Life by Design NW is designed to help meet a fast-growing need,' says Maynard Orme, past OPB president, now interim president and CEO of KBPS All Classical, and one of the group's founding members and current chairman.

'Portland is facing a tremendous transition in its workforce and demographics. But that's a key opportunity to help older adults who may not only be working for continued income or benefits, but for the promise of more meaning and the chance to do work that really matters.'

Karen Shimada, program manager for Life by Design NW, says the program is one of the few of its kind across the country.

'Our mission is to support people as they age in discovering their passion and purpose so they engage their wisdom and skills to strengthen their community or workplace and achieve personal fulfillment,' Shimada said. 'We can support and inspire older adults by providing resources, training and connections.'

Life by Design NW's network of programs and services includes a life-planning and career-transition curriculum available this summer to the public through PCC. It is also available to businesses and organizations on a custom-tailored basis.

The program is also a forum - both in person via interactive workshops and online via its Web site - www.lifebydesignnw.org - for all things related to changing careers, becoming financially savvy and more secure, networking, and exploring volunteer and civic engagement opportunities.

'PCC has been experiencing the increasing need and demand for more programming for older adults,' said Dr. Preston Pulliams, PCC District president. 'Key findings from research surveys and our Life by Design NW work gave us important insight to help develop a uniquely-tailored learning program for these older students that also benefit our employers and communities.'

Life by Design NW is funded by $1.2 million in grants from Atlantic Philanthropies, the Meyer Memorial Trust and the Collins Foundation. The coalition that created the program includes AARP Oregon; PCC; Portland State University; Express Employment Professionals; Hands on Greater Portland; Multnomah County Library; NW Natural; Oregon Public Broadcasting; and Morrison Child and Family Services.

For more information about the program, call Shimada at 503-731-6650, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit www.lifebydesignnw.org.

- Information from Life By Design NW and AARP Oregon