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After ten years, Andrus opened the organization to all Americans over 50, creating AARP. Ojai served as national headquarters for AARP from 1958 until the mid-1960s. Andrus include National Teacher of the Year in 1954, induction into the Women's Hall of Fame and, more recently, a medallion placed on the Points of Light Institute's "Extra Mile Pathway" in downtown Washington, D. Critics of AARP offer an alternative version of the group's origins.60 Minutes reported in a 1978 exposé that AARP had been established as a marketing device by Leonard Davis, founder of the Colonial Penn Group insurance companies, after he met Ethel Percy Andrus.In the 1990s, the United States Senate investigated AARP's non-profit status, with Republican Senator Alan Simpson, then chairman of the United States Senate Finance Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy, questioning the organization's tax-exempt status in congressional hearings. The organization was originally named the American Association of Retired Persons, but in 1999 it officially changed its name to "AARP" (pronounced one letter at a time, "ay ay ar pee") to reflect that its focus was no longer American retirees.According to Charles Blahous, the investigations did not reveal sufficient evidence to change the organization's status, though in an interview years later by the Des Moines Register, Senator Simpson remained "troubled by AARP's practices", calling AARP "the biggest marketing operation in America and money-maker" and an organization whose practices are "the greatest abuse of American generosity I witnessed in my time in the U. AARP no longer requires that members be retired, but they must be at least age 50 (although a membership includes free membership for a spouse or partner who may not yet be 50).AARP is widely known for addressing issues affecting older Americans through a multitude of initiatives, including lobbying efforts at the state and national governmental level, an activity permitted by its 501(c)(4) status.The organization says that it is non-partisan and does not support, oppose or give money to any candidates or political parties.
AARP has seven affiliated organizations: AARP Experience Corps, a non-profit charity that encourages people over age 50 to mentor and tutor school children; AARP Financial Services Corporation, a for-profit corporation that holds AARP's real estate; AARP Foundation, a non-profit charity that helps people over age 50 who are at social and economic risk; AARP Insurance Plan, a non-profit social welfare organization that holds some of AARP's group health insurance policies; AARP Institute, a non-profit charity that holds some of AARP's charitable gift annuity funds; AARP Services Inc., a for-profit corporation that provides quality control and research, and Legal Counsel for the Elderly, a non-profit charity that provides low- or no-cost legal assistance to seniors in Washington, D. According to AARP's 2008 Consolidated financial statements, AARP Services, Inc.
was paid 2,000,000 in royalties from insurance companies that sold products referred by AARP.
AARP also received an additional 0,000,000 for the advertisements placed in its publications.
The AARP Foundation's website claims the nonprofit "wants to win back opportunity for those now in crisis, so thousands of vulnerable low-income Americans 50+ can regain their foothold, continue to serve as anchors for their families and communities and ensure that their best life is still within reach." Key areas of focus are hunger, income, housing, and isolation.
The Foundation's vision is "a country that is free of poverty where no older person feels vulnerable".