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EngAGEment: The Capstone Workshop

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Background and Outcomes

In 2005, through a grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies (Atlantic), Grantmakers In Aging (GIA) launched a pilot program to promote aging-related grantmaking to funders by developing relationships with regional associations throughout the country. This was the EngAGEment Initiative.

At the time, Atlantic’s goal in the area of aging was focused on “turning interest into knowledge into commitment.” 

“We wanted to spark interest among funders in aging and we knew at Atlantic we were too big to do anything on the ground,” explains Stacey Easterling, Programme Executive for The Atlantic Philanthropies. “We needed to get practices out on a community level.” The EngAGEment Initiative was one way of doing this. Six regional associations received grants to educate and build awareness of aging issues among funders in their communities.

After the two-year pilot, Atlantic saw promise in the concept and decided to fund another phase of the EngAGEment Initiative. As a result, 14 more organizations became involved in EngAGEment, including two affinity groups and two national infrastructure organizations for grantmakers. Without any blueprint, each grantee created its own strategies for how best to introduce grantmakers to the growing needs of the aging population in their communities, and how philanthropy could be a part of the effort.

As John Feather, PhD, GIA’s CEO, points out, “one important lesson that EngAGEment has taught us is that no two communities are the same. We did not begin with a model for how things should be done. It’s messier, and it requires patience and understanding of what a community needs. But the learning has been invaluable."

The results are impressive – from expanding funder interest in the crosscutting issues associated with aging to developing  innovative community projects that incorporate aging issues, engage older adults, or address their needs.

EngAGEment is winding down formally but GIA has also applied many of the learnings from EngAGEment in its new initiative, Community AGEnda. This new effort supports the work of five communities to work effectively with complicated local systems to build aging-friendly communities. Two of the EngAGEment sites, Indiana and Kansas City, were selected to participate in Community AGEnda. More information is available here.

You can read about the final EngAGEment Initiative workshop, the Capstone Workshop, held at the GIA Annual Conference in October 2012, at which representatives from virtually every EngAGEment site presented lessons learned about engaging funders who are new to aging, how to talk about aging, and life after EngAGEment.

Click on the links below to read a summary of the EngAGEment presentations.

The EngAGEment Initiative Evaluation: Interim Findings  
Bringing Funders to the Fold: What We’ve Learned
Let’s Talk about Aging: Key Messages that Resonate
Life After Engagement 
What's Next?


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