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Mutual support across the lifespan

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The intergenerational advantage

Grantmakers interested in addressing the challenges that face children, youth, and families may find they can significantly increase their impact through intergenerational programs. Young people and older adults often face similar challenges–poverty, isolation, family dysfunction, and health and mental health issues. But experience shows that when they work together, they can address these problems while creating vibrant communities.

San Pasqual Academy in Escondido, CA, a residential facility for foster youth, for example, engages older adults as mentors, helping youth transition out of foster care. Family Friends, a program of The Intergenerational Center at Temple University, recruits and trains older volunteers from across Philadelphia to work with special needs children in their homes.

Many programs encourage service in the opposite direction: young people serving older adults. The ManaTEEN Club in Bradenton, Florida runs Home Safety for Seniors, which involves teens in evaluating older adults’ needs and installing safety equipment in their homes. In Philadelphia, Time Out Respite trains college students to provide support/assistance for caregivers taking care of an older, frail relative.

Some programs help the generations effectively work together toward a common goal. Heritage Day Broad Street Center in Columbus, Ohio established a daily intergenerational program between its adult day clients and children from the neighboring Head Start program. They share a garden and a community space and are linked through a variety of activities, including exercise, music, arts and crafts, gardening, games, and seasonal events.

Perhaps your funding focuses on families. Currently, five million children live in grandparent-headed households, and half of those grandparents live below the poverty line. Initiatives like Grandparents as Parents (GAP) in Los Angeles provides services and programs to help grandparents raising at-risk children. 

Funding areas

Here are just a few of the many funding areas for children, youth, and families that may include programs for older adults:

  • Mentoring young families or teen parents
  • Child care services or respite care for families in need
  • Teens delivering groceries or meals to older adults, or doing home chore services
  • Youth groups hosting events at seniors residences or senior centers
  • Multigenerational community gardening programs
  • Intergenerational citizen action forums that explore issues facing the community
  • Construction projects that result in renovated homes, parks or playgrounds
  • Local initiatives that engage multiple generations to address a community problem

Source: Grantmakers In Aging December 2011


Here are some resources for grantmakers interetsed in addressing the challenges that face children, youth, and families:

Fact Sheet: The Benefits of Intergenerational Programs (Generations United)
This fact sheet focuses on improving lives of children, youth, and older adults through intergenerational strategies.

The National Center for Children in Poverty: Basic Facts About Low-income Children, 2010
The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) is the nation’s leading public policy center dedicated to promoting the economic security, health, and well-being of America’s low-income families and children. NCCP uses research to inform policy and practice with the goal of ensuring positive outcomes for the next generation. They promote family-oriented solutions at the state and national levels.

Lean on Me: Support and Minority Outreach for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
This report looks at the characteristics of grandparents raising grandchildren in the U.S. and their needs for information, assistance, and services. The report focuses on specific education and outreach needs of grandparent caregivers, particularly minority caregivers. Specific program models are presented, and issues/initiatives where grantmakers could assist.

For more resources, please visit our Resource Center


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