The Changing Face of the Workforce

Though an illegal practice, ageism is still very much alive in the workplace. Most job applicants over 50 report that they feel a strong bias against them with hiring managers. 

People have all kinds of outdated assumptions about older adults that are not proven. It's time to let them go. Older employees are thought to be more likely to take time off due to health issues and less dependable as well as many other assumptions that have been proven inaccurate in a study by researchers Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott from the London School of Economics. 

Gratton and Scott's findings indicate a radically different reality, as enumerated in their book: The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity. They found older workers to be very reliable, dependable and often more loyal than younger employees. Many are now technologically savvy, overturning another prejudice held against employees over 50, and most of those who aren't are willing to learn and get up to speed if given the opportunity.    

Gratton and Scott surveyed over 10,000 people ages 24 to 80 around the globe, and found that technological advancements and increased longevity have combined to transform the traditional outlook of the adult life span, which included three distinct phases, full time education, full time employment and full time retirement, into a new multistage life view with opportunities to participate in a few of these activities simultaneously. 

They found that 60% of workers are staying up to date in their field through continuing education and training. Older individuals are equally engaged and excited about their work, and are not slowing down. In fact, the younger age group reported significantly more interest in slowing down their life pace than the older group.

For those who would like to go back to school, funding is often an issue. Grants help nonprofit organizations or small businesses provide programming for continuing adult education and workforce training and  individual grants for artists, and grants to re-enter the workforce go directly to the older adult.

If you are seeking a new employee, keep an open mind.  Age is much less relevant than your candidates' experience, the degree to which they have kept up with technological and professional changes, their work ethic and their attitude to new challenges.  Workforce development programs help older individuals go back into the workforce and get the training they need.  

The US. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the employment-population ratio of persons 65 and over has risen from approximately 12% in the mid-1990s to over 19% in 2017 – 2018.  

According to the BLS, about 40 percent of people ages 55 and older were working or actively looking for work in 2014. By 2024, BLS projects about 41 million people in the workforce will be ages 55 and older—with 13 million expected to be ages 65 and older.  Many workers realize they can't afford to stop working and need to supplement their fixed social security income with job earnings in order to manage financially.  

U.S. Labor fores shares by age

Better health, increased longevity, and changes to Social Security benefits and employee retirement plans based on the economic realities they find themselves in post the 2008 economic recession and slow economic comeback, all contribute to people retiring later in life than in previous generations. Financial advisors recommend people continue working until at least 70 to get higher social security benefits than they would if they start taking their benefits earlier.

In addition, many people who take early retirement, report enjoying work too much to give it up or feeling bored by retirement. GrantWatch's inception came after an early retirement from a 30+ year teaching career.  According to Libby Hikind, "About nine months after retirement and taking artist classes, I got a "second wind" and GrantWatch was born." While the CEO of GrantWatch makes this joke, in her post retirement era, Libby created a multi service network of websites that help all facets of the nonprofit and small business community that are taken very seriously in the fundraising world.  

More and more mature people are continuing to change and grow, looking at this new phase of life as an adventure, setting new goals and gaining new, invigorated purpose. They're applying for higher positions, starting new businesses, becoming freelancers, retraining and changing careers, taking time off to travel then going back into the workforce. 

People with higher positions, those who are self-employed, or conversely, those who can't afford to retire due to economic concerns are all continuing to work well past the traditional retirement age or are going back to work after having officially retired from their careers. 

About the Author: The author is a staff writer for GrantWatch.


Counting Sheep: Entrepreneurship Grant Helps Young Farmers Grow Small Businesses

Don’t try to pull the wool over the eyes of this budding entrepreneur. Austin VanHouten knows a little something about sheep.

The 15-year-old plans to transition his sheering skills into a small business or, at the very least, a seasonal job. To help him get started, the Douglas County Farm Bureau awarded the upstart executive a $1,300 Young Entrepreneurship Grant that he will use to purchase a shearing motor, clippers and accessory tools.  

Matthew Brady, the vice president of the Douglas County Farm Bureau, told the Capital Press the grant program assists high school-aged youth to overcome some of the financial obstacles involved with initiating an agricultural project. A previous recipient of the entrepreneurship grant applied the funds to start a small business and purchase asparagus starts, soaker hoses and assorted accessories.

According to the Labor Department, the median age for farmers and ranchers is 55.9 years, second only to “motor vehicle operators” who have a median age of 59.2.

Ben Barron counts himself among the “lost generation” of farmers. Between his job and family, he doesn’t have the time to build a full-time farm. The 39-year-old works at a 2,000-acre organic row crop operation in southwest Missouri with two others and his boss. By his estimates, starting a 15- to 20-acre farm would cost between $100,000 and $300,000, a high price to ask of lenders more interested in more stable markets.

The good news is that, a service of GrantWatch, lists for small businesses, particularly those that are women and minority owned. Some funding opportunities may help start a farm or small agricultural business. Grants may cover the cost of purchasing land, seed, equipment and the workforce to assist with an eventual harvest. Most agencies will require a small business plan before offering grant assistance.

VanHouten had both the background and an idea. He recognized a need and opportunity when he helped his grandparents tend to their flock in Oakland, Ore. As a member of the Heavenly Ranchers 4-H Club, he slick-sheared numerous lambs for entry at the annual Douglas County Lamb Show.

Shearing can be difficult and back-breaking work and of little interest to most high school students. But, not to VanHouten, who participated in a four-day class to improve his craft by sheering up to 50 sheep a day. With a current flock of 15 ewes, he plans to continue shearing, save money for college and, following graduation, start his own sheep, cattle and pig operation.

For-profit entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses, particularly minority-, veteran- and women-owned, frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding for agricultural opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at By registering, subscribers gain access to both and GrantWatch.

About the Author: Staff Write for GrantWatch


As Coal Industry Tries to Rebound, Workforce Grants Help Appalachia Diversify Economies and Displaced Miners Find Jobs

Coal mining is in his blood. But, these days, Billy Jack Buzzard has another lifeline.

The seventh-generation miner from rural West Virginia is working in a small town near Charleston, where he is building an app for a project based in Seattle. Billy Buzzard got the new job after completing a coding class offered through Mined Mines, a nonprofit foundation that helps miners in struggling coal-country communities in West Virginia and Kentucky, find work.

GrantWatch helps nonprofits located workforce development grants to serve the community and MWBEzone helps small businesses locate workforce grants.

Mined Mines is funded by grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal-state partnership that creates self-sustaining opportunities and quality of life improvements in a region long beset by high poverty and unemployment.

In the 205,000-square-mile region that follows the spine of the Appalachian Mountains from southern New York to northern Mississippi, a way of life that sustained generations is evaporating. 

ARC reports coal production in Appalachia fell by nearly 45 percent from 2005 to 2015. Coal is about to become the comeback kid of energy and displaced miners need work now.

For communities struggling from the coal industry’s downturn, ARC provides funds to help strengthen and diversify their economies through POWER initiative grants.  (While this grant deadline has passed, it is in the GrantWatch archives and can be reviewed and will be reposted again, when it becomes available.) POWER initiative grants aim to bolster the healthcare sector and improve health conditions, increase the number of adults with high school diplomas, enhance access to broadband internet service, foster entrepreneurship and develop industry clusters within the community. 

Energy experts attribute coal’s diminished standing to a rise in inexpensive natural gas combined with more automation in mines and the falling costs of renewable energy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the coal industry lost some 30,000 mining jobs between 2008 and 2016.   

To assist distressed communities and regions impacted by the declining use of coal, GrantWatch also offers access to grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration that provide technical assistance to address a wide variety of economic concerns, namely the creation and retention of jobs and increased private investment.

Many Appalachians reeling from the economic hit have already seen how changes in the regional coal economy can not only touch miners and their families, but everything from supply-chain industries to electric power generation, from transportation to K-12 education funding as well. While Mined Minds is geared toward former coal miners, Appalachians from all walks of life and industries have benefited from the program.

Billy Jack Buzzard is among the fortunate. He says he does and he doesn’t miss coal mining. Getting paid to code from his home, he said, allows him the flexibility to help when his kids are sick and certainly beats working underground.

Academic entities, nonprofits, community-based groups and concerned citizens frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities in support of diversifying and strengthening economies impacted by the coal industry's decline at GrantWatch.comSign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

About the Author: Staff Writer at GrantWatch


As Ocean Waters Warm, Maine Agency Offers Grants to Boost Lobster Conservation Research

As soon as the first trap of the day is lifted onto his boat 10 miles off the coast of Portland, Jim Ranaghan is consumed with separating the keepers from the lobsters he will toss back into the ocean. Occasionally, he will pause to measure a lobster or check for a dense cluster of eggs on its tail.

For Ranaghan and Maine lobstermen like him who consider themselves protectors of the state’s signature natural resource, this is how it’s done. Fishery managers are determined to keep it that way.

And what better way than to award grants that will help researchers gain a keener understanding of lobsters. The Maine Department of Marine Resources is awarding six grants totaling $340,000 from the Lobster Research, Education and Development Fund. That money is derived from the sale of lobster license plates.

Patrick Keliher, commissioner of the state agency, says the grants will position the lobster industry to adapt to climate changes in the Gulf of Maine and preserve and conserve the popular crustacean population.

University of Maine researchers were awarded five of the six grants including two to Yong Chen. The marine science professor will develop scientific models to predict how climate change will impact lobster environments as well as computer simulations to measure the effects of conservation measures.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, said research and conservation are among the priorities behind grants that support marine protected areas and sustainable fishing. GrantWatch lists funding opportunities including funds that provide for: grants for environmental concerns, scientific research, policy analysis, management support, and public communication efforts.

Lobstermen in Maine take great pride in the state’s conservation measures, which go beyond outlining which lobsters can and cannot be harvested. Traps are specially designed to catch as few illegal lobsters as possible, and zoning laws, haul limits and other licensing and management regulations help maintain a stable population in Maine’s coastal waters.

Because of those statutes, the Maine lobster industry is experiencing an unprecedented boom. Since 2011, lobstermen have hauled in more than 100 million pounds of American lobster each year. That’s twice as many as the previous decade and five times as much as 30 years ago.

But, some fear the Gulf of Maine is getting warmer, which could be problematic for lobsters. Too much warm water, some researchers say, is to blame for a fall-off in the lobster catch in southern New England. And of concern to Maine lobster interests, catches dropped by 20 million pounds, from 132 million in 2016 to 110 million last year.

Academic entities, researchers, nonprofits and concerned citizens frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities in support land, water and wildlife conservation that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.comSign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch

Small Business Grants Provide Dough To Expand From Booth To ‘The Arepa Place’ Restaurant

From a booth inside Findlay Market in downtown Cincinnati, Isis Arieta-Dennis introduces South American culture to a passersby who bites into her signature arepas. She says Colombians consume arepas, flattened dough made of corn or maize and filled with ingredients, just like Americans eat bread.

The Colombian native is rolling in a little bit more dough after winning a $10,000 small business grant from Samuel Adams. The grants, some $24.5 million presented to food and beverage startups throughout the country in the past decade – are awarded to help small businesses thrive and create jobs in the community.

To win the grant, Arieta-Dennis had to pitch her business plan to a panel of five judges including Samuel Adams founder and brewer Jim Koch, a Cincinnati native. Now that arepas have proven to be their bread and butter, she and her husband, Christopher, have the additional funds to expand their food stand – The Arepa Place — into a more permanent restaurant within Findlay Market.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, said corporations are fond of holding contests to gain publicity for their own brands while awarding grants to promote small businesses. Some of these and other annual funding opportunities can be identified on, an ancillary service of GrantWatch that lists grants for small businesses, particularly those owned by woman and minorities.

The Arepa Place competed against four other local food-and-beverage entrepreneurs during the Sam Adams “Brewing the American Dream” program’s Cincinnati stop, which featured a Pitch Room Competition and Speed Coaching event.

The Arepa Place came out on top, earning Arieta-Dennis a $10,000 business grant and extended speed coaching from the Sam Adams program, which has coached or mentored more than 8,000 small businesses since its inception in 2008.

With the grant money, Arieta-Dennis said her new restaurant will be able to house a small shop to sell Latino products, many of the items from local small businesses already located within Findlay Market. In the meantime, she will use part of the grant money to purchase a tilt skillet for soaking the oil and corn or maize used for making arepas.

Arieta-Dennis said arepas look like tortillas, but much thicker. After slicing them open like a pita, she fills them with mozzarella cheese, black beans, fried plantains, and shredded beef or chicken. When she mixes mozzarella into the corn dough before grilling the patties, she has created a “Colombian version of a grilled cheese.”

A foundation for The Arepa Place began two years ago at the Butler County Small Business Development Center, which, Arieta-Dennis credits with helping her identify startup tools including how to file for a license.

For-profit entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses, particularly minority and women-owned, frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at By registering, subscribers gain access to both and GrantWatch.


About the Author: Staff Writer for


Have Job, Will Travel? $10,000 Grants Offered To Remote Workers Who Set Up Shop In Vermont

For able travelers who can’t get enough great snow for skiing, pure maple syrup and picturesque wooden bridges, Vermont has an offer that can’t be refused. The popular travel destination is offering money to visitors who are not only interested in coming to the Green Mountain State, but willing to stay awhile.

The new government initiative, designed to invigorate a small and aging population with a more youthful workforce, does have some requirements. To be eligible for the Remote Worker Grant Program, laborers must be full-time employees for an out-of-state business, work primarily from home or co-working space in Vermont, and become a full-fledged local resident by the end of the year.

Workers who meet those requirements can receive up to $5,000 a year in grants or no more than $10,000 for two years. The commissioner of the office of economic development, which is administering the grant program signed into law last month, said remote employees better move quickly. Some 1,000 workers with an eye toward Vermont have already requested more information on the grant program.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, said state tourism agencies routinely offer grants to encourage travel to a specific destination or region. These and other tourism grants are posted on tourism category and through the GrantWatch keyword search under tourism. From Florida across the nation to Washington, awards are typically targeted to nonprofits or small businesses travel and tourism category to promote arts and cultural events or to support marketing initiatives or traveler services that foster economic development.

Vermont’s Remote Worker Grant Program provides money to offset the cost of relocating, computer equipment and software, broadband internet access and co-working memberships. Funds will be distributed on a first come, first served basis, and there are annual limits to the grants.

For 2019, total grants cannot exceed $125,000. The cap increases in 2020 to $250,000, then drops back down to $125,000 in 2021. The idea, for a state that attracts 13 million annual visitors, is timely. Up to 43 percent of Americans work remotely for varying periods.

A small population – 623,657, according to the latest U.S. Census report – has pushed Vermont to think big. The state’s department of tourism and marketing already promotes a Stay to Stay program, which encourages visitors to enjoy a weekend visit to Vermont that includes meetings with realtors and potential employers.

Government agencies, nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants that promote travel and tourism and boost economic development can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.comSign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

About the Author: Staff Writer for Grant Watch


All-American: Sisters Turn Military Surplus Into Fashionable Small Business to Employ Veterans

Made in America is more than a company slogan for a couple of army brats who held onto an idea conceived in college to create a small business that recycles military trash into fashionable bags, jewelry and purses.

But, Emily Núñez Cavness and her sister, Betsy, do more than transform old military tents, parachutes and 50-caliber shell casings into civilian treasures. The company they founded and operate, Sword & Plough, employs military veterans throughout the manufacturing process — from design, to sewing, to management, sales and modeling

If that weren’t enough, along with donating dozens of the accessories to charities, Sword & Plough forwards 10 percent of the company’s profits to nonprofit veteran’s organizations across the United States. The Núñez sisters figure Sword & Plough has recycled more than 35,000 pounds of military surplus and supported more than 65 veteran jobs.

Each year, more than 200,000 U.S. military veterans like Núñez Cavness return to civilian life. And like the former Army captain who completed a tour in Afghanistan, 10 percent – a survey shows — would like to own a small business. And some — at least 25 million businesses in the United States are majority-owned by veterans – go on to fulfill those dreams. But, according to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, 75 percent of U.S. veterans struggle to find the capital they need to get going.

Any new venture, at some point, needs assistance. Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of and, said veterans determined to start their own business can identify funding opportunities on that are targeted specifically to men and women who served their country. MWBEzone, an ancillary service of GrantWatch, lists grants for small businesses, particularly those owned by women, minorities and veterans.

Emily Núñez Cavness encourages other veterans to check out grant competitions like she did as well as crowdsourcing to help get their businesses off the ground. She said her time in the military prepared her to lead a company. Those designs started at an early age, when she was influenced by her father, an Army quartermaster for 30 years who went onto teach political science at the U.S. Military Academy. Núñez Cavness followed in his footsteps and joined the ROTC program at the University of Vermont.

Motivation behind Sword & Plough was spawned after the cadet attended a social entrepreneurship symposium. Not long after, Núñez Cavness won a business plan competition followed by a mentorship and a grant to get Sword & Plough started. But more money was needed to fund the company’s first preorder. Before Núñez Cavness deployed, the Sword & Plough team turned to crowdfunding, which raised more than $310,000 from supporters across the globe.

Betsy Núñez and Emily Núñez Cavness have come a long way since. Although the unemployment rate for veterans is down slightly to 3.4 percent, the sisters hope to continue to grow the company brand and give back to the military community that, they say, has given them so much.

For-profit entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses, particularly minority-, veteran- and women-owned, frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at By registering, subscribers gain access to both and GrantWatch.

About the Author: Staff Writer for


Small Business Programs Offer Grants, Pearls Of Wisdom to Maryland Oyster Farmers

When he started out on Hooper’s Island six years ago, Ted Cooney thought he could manage his oyster farm all by himself. Ted realized all too soon that he needed to hire watermen who were willing to rise early each morning and pull up oyster cages from the bottom of Chesapeake Bay.  He also learned the value of seeking financial help to keep his small business afloat.

Cooney, the founder of Madhouse Oysters, considers himself the “poster child” for accessing funds from state agencies to help make his small business work. The former boat builder who fished in Alaska before starting a healthcare financial services company with his father has been around the small business block. Cooney has taken advantage of state programs aimed at small businesses including the Maryland Industrial Partnership, which offers grants of up to $100,000 per year for existing companies and $90,000 a year for start-ups, and the Technology Development Corporation, which provides seed-funding for local entrepreneurs with fledging concepts.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, said there are plenty of opportunities including grants to fund small businesses. The challenge for entrepreneurs is to identify which grants match their ideas., an ancillary service of GrantWatch, posts grant opportunities for small businesses, particularly women and minority owned, through all stages of development.

Not too long ago, the future of oyster farming was as murky as the muddy waters of the Chesapeake Bay. But now, oyster farming is roaring back from the brink of extinction, thanks to state programs, such as  which offers research grants that provide strategic support for coastal and marine science projects in the bay region.

Cooney might have thrown in the towel himself. The long hours were driving him out of his mind – thus, the name Madhouse Oysters. To his credit, he applied for the grant listed above, which provided him with technical advice about aquaculture, small business financing and public policy.

Today, Cooney, who has taken on two partners, and he no longer thinks about selling his oyster farm. He is pleased that the state is encouraging aquaculture, but more thrilled that oyster bars are popping up everywhere along coastal Maryland.

For-profit entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses, particularly minority and women-owned, frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at By registering, subscribers gain access to both and GrantWatch.

About the Author: Staff Writer for