Connecting Generations for Good

Grant Spotlight: Encore.org’s Generation to Generation

September 30, 2016

Generation to Generation

It’s a common storyline—the older generation doesn’t understand the world of the younger generation, and the younger generation sees their elders as out-of-touch.

But our partner Encore.org is working toward changing intergenerational attitudes and the larger narrative of warring generations. With their new initiative Generation to Generation, they plan to activate a million people over 50 to become engaged in ways that benefit children, and in doing so, themselves and the whole community.

“In many ways this is coming full circle for us as an organization,” said Marc Freedman, CEO of Encore.org. “Over the years our efforts have had a strong intergenerational dimension, and now we’re bringing together the pattern of work between the generations that seems to emerge in all our projects.”

This effort, which launches in November, will bring together existing programs and create new ones to promote older adults advocating for and engaging with children and youth. “The parts add up to a quite significant whole,” said Freedman. Over five years, Generation to Generation will support innovative and scalable pilots that will change millions of lives. Adults aged 50 and over will work with organizations like Boys and Girls Club of America and Jumpstart for Young Children, both of which The Eisner Foundation has also supported on a local level, to help the children they serve thrive. Their involvement will range from formal arrangements to informal, from paid to volunteer.

But it’s not only the children who will benefit. The older adults who participate will gain a sense of purpose and meaning, while also combating the all-too-common narrative of generational animosity.

“We’re convinced from the research that many older people are deeply dedicated to not just leaving a legacy, but living one—investing their time, talent and experience to help the next generations,” said Freedman. “We’re changing the conversation about what growing old in our society means.”

Indeed, a forthcoming survey from Encore.org found that an overwhelming majority of survey respondents link their own sense of purpose in life, as well as their belief in America’s future, to the well-being of future generations. And eight in 10 respondents said that making the world a better place for the next generation is an important priority — outranked only by the near-universal desire for a good marriage/family, good health, and financial security.

With our focus on intergenerational programs in Los Angeles County, The Eisner Foundation is especially excited about how Generation to Generation will impact our local community. “Los Angeles will be a ‘shining city on a hill’ demonstrating what’s possible when multiple generations come together, especially in the context of Mayor Garcetti’s Purposeful Aging LA Initiative,” said Freedman. “We’re particularly interested in how older people can improve early childhood education for young people growing up against the odds.”

The Eisner Foundation has previously partnered with Encore.org to promote intergenerational relationships and programs in a number of ways, including research, op-eds and other publications.

“We’ve always believed that Encore.org was a true leader in intergenerational programming, and launching Generation to Generation at this time is proof of that leadership,” said Trent Stamp, CEO of The Eisner Foundation. “We’re excited for the promise this initiative holds, both in Los Angeles and across the country, and proud to be part of its beginning.”

To learn more, watch for the official launch of Generation to Generation in November, and explore Encore.org’s current projects here.

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