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Women's ScholarshipsGrowing old in America is not what it used to be. If you are an African-American or Hispanic over 50, you’re more likely to feel financially insecure than any other minority group. These are some of the reasons why older adults either have to look for a job after retirement or delay retirement for a few years. Women in particular, have suffered rising unemployment rates in the last 3 years, peaking at more than 7 percent this past summer. But as they look to return to the workplace, many older adults find they need to complete their degree or upgrade their skills to be competitive.

These are sobering statistics that may help you understand why we started the AARP Foundation Women’s Scholarship Program in 2007 with the generous support of the WalMart Foundation and AARP. The program provides financial assistance to low-income women over 50 by funding education, training and skills upgrades that can lead to better employment and increased financial security.

The scholarship application period for the 2012-2013 academic year is open from Wednesday, February 1st, 2012 at 9:00 a.m. CST until March 30th, 2012 at 5:00 p.m. CST. Learn about how to apply, eligibility requirements and selection factors by clicking here.

Three years after it began, this program has awarded scholarships to more than 800 women forever changing their lives. Here are just a few of the inspiring stories of our scholarship recipients:

Annabelle Larsen (2011 Scholarship Recipient):

“Her advice to other women who are thinking of going back to school?  “Do it!  Don’t be intimidated – we have a lot more to offer than we think.  We’ve had so many experiences that younger people can learn from that we’re secondary teachers in a way.  We have a lot to give, and people actually need to hear from us.”

Elena Martinez (2011 Scholarship Recipient):

“The scholarship means that Elena can accelerate her studies and go to school full time for the next two years.  She will receive her associate’s degree in business administration in 2013, and then transfer to another college where she’ll study for her accounting degree.”

Keri Douglas (2010 Scholarship Recipient):

“In 2010, Keri got her first AARP Foundation scholarship, which allowed her to transfer to Howard University in Washington, D.C. to pursue a double major in photography and filmmaking.  “I was so glad that you didn’t ask me to write about dead artists on my application,” she says.  “You asked me to write about the artist who is me.”

She reapplied in 2011 and received another scholarship to study at Howard this year. “I can’t even begin to tell you how much the AARP Foundation scholarships mean to me.  Your support has been so wonderful – someone is always calling me or emailing me to check in and see how I’m doing, and that has been so important to me,” she says.

Finally, you can learn more about the current employment climate by reading the following reports:

  • AARP Public Policy Institute’s fact sheet on the employment situation as of November 2011.
  • A study by The Heller School for Social Policy and Management from Brandeis University on the growing racial wealth gap.
  • Another study from the Pew Research Center explains that a “typical black household had just $5,677 in wealth (assets minus debts) in 2009; the typical Hispanic household had $6,325 in wealth; and the typical white household had $113,149.”
  • Read: An Assessment of Labor Force Projections Through 2018: Will Workers Have the Education Needed for the Available Jobs?
  • Also check: Employer Experiences and Expectations: Finding, Training, and Keeping Qualified Workers.

If you would like to help us change the lives of women like these scholars, you can go to www.aarpfoundation.org