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Older adults serve as a rich resource of tutors, mentors, and teachers in our communities.

Across the nation, a variety of research-based, community programs have cropped up that use older adults to address critical educational challenges among school-aged children and youth. If your grantmaking focus is on early childhood education, mentoring at-risk youth, strengthening public education, or teaching immigrant and refugee populations, there are literally hundreds of programs, many that can be replicated, that engage older adults to support these efforts. Below are just a few examples.

The Eisner Foundation focuses its grantmaking on intergenerational programs that build stronger communities. Among the programs they support that enlist older adults to enhance educational opportunities for students are:

  • 826LA. The foundation approved a $200,000 grant that provides two years of general operating support for the Los Angeles nonprofit organization to recruit more senior volunteers and help 9,000 low-income, underserved youth with their creative and expository writing skills through in-school/after-school tutoring and writing workshops.
  • Grandfather Reading Buddies program. The University of Southern California Los Angeles got a $170,000, two-year grant to launch a Grandfather Reading Buddies program that will recruit retired men and retired police officers to help young boys of color ages 5-9 in South Los Angeles.
  • Fulfillment Fund. The foundation gave a $100,000, one-year grant to recruit more older adult volunteers to serve as mentors to college-bound, low-income students.

Jumpstart for Young Children. A $100,000, one-year grant helps the national nonprofit organization’s Los Angeles program to deploy 75 senior Community Corps members to preschools in low-income communities, where they will engage with children using a literacy curriculum to reduce the achievement gap.

Many local foundations have helped to bring the AARP Foundation Experience Corps program to their communities. This national initiative mobilizes older adults to devote an average of 6-15 hours per week to enhance reading and writing skills of students in elementary schools. The trained older volunteers work in teams and receive stipends. Research shows that not only do the children’s literacy skills, behavior, and reading scores improve, but so does the health of the older volunteers. Watch this AARP Foundation Experience Corps video to learn more about the program.

Mentor Tutor Connection (MTC) is a community-based, largely volunteer organization that provides adult mentors to high school students and tutors to younger students in the Los Altos Mountain View Union School District in California. Originally conceived and funded by the Los Altos Rotary Club, MTC now partners with several organizations, such as Mountain View Kiwanis Foundation and the Los Altos Community Foundation. Given its success, the mentoring program has expanded to all three high schools in the district. With its focus on youth and education, the Morgan Family Foundation also provides general support for the program.

What to fund

  • Older people as mentors and tutors for students
  • Older adults helping or hosting afterschool and summer activity programs for children
  • Older people sharing skills, culture, crafts, and history with young people
  • Older adults as mentors to young families or teen parents
  • Older adults teaching their peers
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