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Young and old helping each other… and the community

Communities are rich tapestries woven from the diverse lives and experiences of everyone who lives in them — from newborn infants to our oldest citizens. The individual threads that make up this fabric are far stronger when intertwined than they are individually.

That is especially true of the youngest and oldest members of our communities. And as intergenerational programs and services have spread across the nation, we have learned that joining the talents, knowledge, and skills of young and old together improves the lives of both, while also strengthening community cohesion.

Whether they focus on older people serving young, young serving old, or young and old serving together, intergenerational initiatives provide exciting opportunities to build understanding relationships across age groups. Almost any service, program, or space can be enhanced by using an intergenerational approach — from education, to the environment, to arts and culture, to health and wellness.

The good news: Many older adults are seeking ways to remain active in their communities. Many young people are eager to help older people or learn from them. Together, they can make exciting things happen. And everyone reaps the benefits.

For too long, supporting programs for children and youth or for older adults was too often viewed as a zero-sum game. Nothing could be further from the truth. Grantmakers can play a critical role by supporting strategies that connect children and youth with older people in ways that benefit all.

For more information about different ways young and old can help each other and help their communities, see the boxed sections below and/or visit the GIA Issue Briefs on Children, youth, and families and Intergenerational Strategies.

For quick links to each of the main sections in All Together: GIA’s Comprehensive Guide to Funding in Aging, please scroll down to the bottom of this page.

GIA thanks Sheri Steinig, MSW, of Generations United for her contributions to this section.

Word START painted on road

Getting Started

First steps if you are interested in funding intergenerational programs.
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Young African American girl with her mother

Older People Serving Young People

Explore ways older people can support young people and their families.
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Senior man and two young girls helping him with a computer

Young Serving Old

Learn about how young people are helping older people.
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Group of diverse people cleaning up trash

Young And Old Working Together

See how different generations working together benefits communities.
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Grandfather, grandson, and mother in garden

Shared Sites: Different Generations Sharing Space

Shared spaces stretch scarce resources while benefiting both young and old.
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Grandmother playing with grandson in kitchen

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Discover the many ways funders can help grandparents raising grandchildren.
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Additional Children, Youth, Families Information

A list of helpful websites and resources.
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