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By working together, young people and older adults bring tremendous benefits to their communities.

At the same time, young and old gain an appreciation for one another. From arts programs to community gardens, there are many ways that different generations can come together as a team.

Funders make it possible for the young and old to work together in programs like these:

AGE to age, launched by The Northland Foundation in northeastern Minnesota in 2008 as part of its KIDS PLUS family of programs, enables older and younger community members to work together to identify local needs and devise their own grassroots solutions. In addition to being a regional grantmaking foundation, Northland also operates the KIDS Plus programs, among other initiatives. Age to age sites are established in 16 rural communities and Native American Reservations, and spur more than 7,500 hours of volunteer service each year among adults ages 55 and older. Each site forms and implements its own action plan that brings the generations together to improve health and wellbeing for all, with support from the Northland Foundation and its funding partners. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, is among the funder partners for Age to age. The community programs and projects include volunteering, gardening, arts and culture, preserving Native American traditions and languages, students helping older adults with technology, and older adults helping students with reading, among others. Watch a video that shares stories of two of the sites.

Mass Audubon’s Habitat Intergenerational Program brings together people across generations to participate in environmental service projects. Started in 1997 at Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary in Belmont, MA, the volunteer community service and learning program offers intergenerational opportunities ranging from planting wildflowers and cleaning trails to having older adults work with middle school students to create educational materials that teachers at the Habitat can use.

With a name meaning “generations” in Hebrew, DOROT has been working to alleviate social isolation and provide concrete services to older adults in New York City for four decades. The nonprofit organization, which won the Eisner Prize for Intergenerational Excellence from The Eisner Foundation in 2017, offers an array of Youth Volunteer Programs that include friendly visits, birthday deliveries, computer tutoring, and much more. One of DOROT’s more creative offerings is Intergenerational Chess, designed to build connections between youth in grades 6 through 12 and older people across the chess board. Watch a video about the program from the Forward.

Danceworks, Inc., in Milwaukee, WI, runs the Danceworks Generations program, which builds relationships through dance and visual arts instruction between students from Milwaukee schools with limited or no arts education programming and older adults from assisted living and adult day programs. Generations, formerly known as Intergenerational Multi Art Project (IMAP), seeks to build community between intergenerational groups through the creative arts, improve students’ attitudes toward older adults, and improve older adults’ attitudes toward their own aging. Bader Philanthropies has supported the program since 2003 with more than $115,000 in grants.

What to fund

  • Multigenerational community gardening programs
  • Meal preparation/delivery or holiday gifts and parties for families in need
  • Intergenerational citizen action forums that explore issues facing the community
  • Cultural programs involving youth and older adults
  • Construction projects that result in renovated homes, parks or playgrounds
  • Local initiatives that engage multiple generations to address a community problem
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