40Plus was founded during the Great Depression. In 1939, Henry Simler, an executive with the Remington Rand company, created a “40 Plus Committee” at New York City’s Sales Executive Club to help over-40 executives who were having difficulty finding jobs.
Four American giants formed the New York organization’s first Advisory Board: Tom Watson, president and founder of IBM; James Cash Penney, founder of J.C. Penney & Co.; Arthur Godfrey, popular radio and TV personality; and Norman Vincent Peale, minister, inspirational speaker, and author of The Power of Positive Thinking. The concept spread to cities throughout the U.S.
They realized that a program combining training, motivation, and support, led by and for unemployed people, would work wonders. That's still true today.
For more information, go to the 40Plus Wikipedia entry.