kent county


We are poised to take advantage of the unprecedented human resource windfall of the Baby Boomer and beyond generation.

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Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s Encore Innovation Fellows Tom Rademacher is seeking out stories about people doing great work in their Encore years. He's one of Grand Rapids more well-known writers and storytellers.

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encore innovation fellow


“Encore is a movement of millions of people who are using their passions, skills and decades of experience to make a difference in our communities and the world.”

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second acts for a greater


“Our society is shifting to a new place where people of a broad age range are blending together in fresh and exciting ways. I can only hope for more of this in Grand Rapids!”

Jane Royer, Encore Innovation Fellow


Our Stories


Encore is a burgeoning national movement created to tap the skills and experience of those in midlife and beyond to improve communities and the world. Encore sets out to define this new stage of life. An Encore can combine work, service and social impact.

Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s Encore is leading the way in Kent County by seeking to inspire individuals in their 50s and beyond to engage in meaningful work and service that makes a difference. In addition, we seek to challenge organizations in our community to pave the way and increase their capacity for experienced talent by identifying innovative pathways and opportunities for service.



We’ll identify our community’s best practices. How can we build on the collaborative successes that already exist and leverage them for an even greater impact? Let’s work together to determine new and existing opportunities that contribute to the community good and create a better future for the generations to come.



We’ll find connections—those paid and unpaid opportunities in which the talents and experience of people in midlife and beyond can flourish. We will serve as a hub and a resource for leaders of profit and nonprofit organizations that share the Encore vision.



We want to make sure everybody knows about the vast population of people that are active and healthy with extensive skill, knowledge and life experience. We’ll tell their personal stories here. These stories challenge conventional thinking about aging and begin a new narrative that speaks to individual renewal and social impact.


Click on any of the images to view an Encore story.

Aleicia Woodrick

After Years of Dedicated Community Service, This Encore Now Throws Pots

Amanda Winn

A Very Young Encore Whose Personal Trials Set Her on a Mission

Carol Vriend Petter

One's Encore Isn't Necessarily a Destination, but a Journey -- Just Ask Carol Petter

Jim Starkey

After a Celebrated Career as a Photojournalist, this Encore Returned to His First Love -- Painting

Yvonne May

Teaching's In Her Heart -- She's Just Got To Do It

John Olinger

Dedication to Veterans Is a Family Tradition for This Encore


Let’s start a community conversation about life after traditional retirement! We want to help shape this new life stage that offers the freedom to work differently and contribute in new ways. We strive to link the individuals and organizations in networks and communities throughout Kent County that support and sustain continuous learning and improvement.



You are a vital source of talent that can benefit our community! However you choose to ‘Encore’, there are opportunities across Kent County. We will highlight resources here to aid you in realizing and claiming your own Encore. Did you know that if only five percent of today’s population chose encore service, Kent County could gain up to 80,000 person-years of benefit?



Community institutions in the public, nonprofit and private sectors can contribute so much to our collective understanding of how to harness this unique workforce and offer opportunities for service. We have so many challenges in our education and healthcare systems, in our environment, government and on our streets. Is your organization ‘Encore-friendly’ and interested in building capacity?



Please share your insights, ideas and experiences with us. The power of personal stories is profound—they give issues a human face and demonstrate what we can accomplish together. What purpose drives your future? We know these conversations are already happening in coffee houses, brew pubs, chamber meetings, churches, Kiwanis and Rotary clubs all around our community. How are you sharing your talent, skill and time?


MAY 25

Healthy Living Lecture SeriesForest Hills Fine Arts Center 600 Forest Hills Ave. SE

The Healthy Living Lecture Series is a free event, no registration necessary, on Wednesday, May 25, from 12:30 to 4:30, featuring Encore Fellow Tom Rademacher as keynote speaker. Mercy Health will present lectures on heart health and Parkinson's Disease. Also, free health screenings, door prizes and healthy snacks.

JUN 01

Creative Youth Center Book LaunchWealthy Theatre

The students of the Creative Youth Center have worked hard dreaming up, drafting, and polishing their favorite pieces of writing. Now it's time to celebrate!

Young authors will read from their latest anthology, Bloom Cherry Bloom Tree: The Book of Explosions V, designed by Grand Rapids artist Jenny Hearns.

Wednesday, June 1st
Wealthy Theatre
Doors & Book Sales @ 5:00
Reading starts promptly @ 5:30
Signing to follow

Gather your friends and join us at this free community event! 

These stories challenge conventional thinking about aging and begin a new narrative that speaks to individual renewal and social impact.


We want to raise the visibility of individuals and organizations taking innovative approaches to achieving the Encore vision in our community. How are you realizing your Encore vision?

Mary T. McLoughlin

Encore Innovation Fellow


Tom Rademacher

Encore Innovation Fellow


Jane Royer

Encore Innovation Fellow


Tera Wozniak Qualls

Encore Innovation Fellow



National Encore think tank.

Experience Corps

Put your experience to work helping students.


Find opportunities for service.

Heart of West Michigan United Way Volunteer Center

Find opportunities for service.

Life Reimagined

What’s next for you?

Encore Career Handbook

Explore your Encore potential!