If you’re recently retired or will be soon and want to redeploy your talents for the common good during your second act, I think you may want to consider applying to the new University of Minnesota Advanced Careers Initiative (UMAC). It’s a unique, innovative, yearlong program in Minneapolis that’s designed to help adults 55+ launch encore careers.

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Applications are being accepted online through August 15th, 2017 to select the inaugural group of 10 participants (known as fellows). The program kicks off September 5, so if you’re interested, now’s the time to act.

Next-Career Programs From Stanford and Harvard

Other universities, like Stanford and Harvard, also offer programs for late-stage professionals (the Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute and the Harvard Advanced Leadership Institute). But this one’s a bit different. “I don’t see us as competitors,” says Kate Schaefers, UMAC’s executive director. “We are adding a new model to the mix and building on the best of what they offer.”

As Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of Encore.org says, “The University of Minnesota’s Advanced Careers Initiative holds the potential to be the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for — a new stage of education, fitted for an entirely new stage of life. Grounding this initiative in a state university means it is a model for the vast national network of public institutions — a replication channel for spreading these ideas widely.”

Phyllis Moen, UMAC’s founding director and a University of Minnesota sociology professor says: “We provide a space for personal exploration, renewal and growth. A time out from the normal routine in the same way that college is for traditional younger students.”

How The U. of Minn. Encore Career Program Will Work

In the fall semester, UMAC fellows will go to school part-time on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus, engaging in workshops, seminars and projects. There will also be opportunities to meet with faculty, interact with traditional college students and sit in on select college classes.

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In the spring semester, which needn’t be done in the Twin Cities, fellows will volunteer 10 to 20 hours a week for social sector organizations. This will broaden their understanding of how to use their skills in a nonprofit setting. They’ll also get career coaching to help assess their interests, values, talents and priorities, and explore ways to apply their skills to encore endeavors.

Criteria for Enrollment

Applicants will be accepted based on the following criteria: they are professionals with a love of learning and intellectual growth; they envision an active, engaged post-career life that includes meaningful work; they embrace mentoring and multi-generational learning opportunities; they are interested in being change agents for society; they are active learners ready to dive in and fully participate in experiential learning and they want to connect with a community of learners as they launch the next stage of their lives.

How the 3 Programs Differ

There are several key differences between the UMAC program and the excellent ones offered by Stanford and Harvard.

For one thing, UMAC is geared for a broad audience, not just top-level executives. Stanford and Harvard’s programs “provide something for the top 1%,” notes Moen, author ofEncore Adulthood: Boomers on the Edge of Risk, Renewal, and Purpose.