The Senior Corps is the older generation's version of AmeriCorps. This program consists of three core branches: Foster Grandparents, Senior Companions and RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program).
As a Foster Grandparent, you can spend up to 40 hours a week helping at schools and a variety of different local organizations that serve children. Volunteers may be eligible to earn a tax-free hourly stipend and a travel reimbursement, depending on income. Senior Companions, who assist adults who need a little help living independently, can also earn an income-dependent, tax-free stipend and travel reimbursement. RSVP, which is a kind of clearinghouse for community service opportunities, does not offer financial aid directly, but the local sponsoring organization might be able to reimburse you for any costs incurred during participation, such as travel.
You must be at least 55 years old to enroll in any of these programs [source: SeniorCorps]. To get involved, you can visit the Corporation for National Service Web site and search for opportunities in your region.
In addition to these current programs, the Serve America Act of 2009 authorized the creation and funding of a new program called Silver Scholars, which would give education awards of $1,000 to individuals age 55 and older who perform 350 hours of service. Recipients would be able to transfer the money to children or grandchildren [source: Scott].
If you're not in college or part of the working world yet, that doesn't mean you can't benefit from these opportunities. Read on to find out what kind of financial aid is available for you.