Connecting Generations for Good

The Eisner Foundation Intergenerational Convening and Training Day

December 8, 2015

When The Eisner Foundation announced our new philanthropic focus in the summer of 2015, we knew it wasn’t enough just to tell our current and prospective grantees that we would now only be investing in programs that worked intergenerationally for the betterment of Los Angeles. We have many great long-standing relationships in this community and we knew we needed not only to be absolutely explicit about what we were looking for in our partners, but to share what we knew about this emerging focus in philanthropy with an audience thirsty for new tools in their toolkits, regardless of what their charitable mission may be.

We knew we had an obligation to educate those in our universe about why we’d made this evolution, what quality intergenerational programs look like, why we think they’re impactful and transformative, and most importantly, how non-profits in our community could add an intergenerational lens to their current operations. So we set about planning for a technical assistance session for all that were interested.

On November 18, 2015, we held The Eisner Foundation Intergenerational Convening and Training Day at the Center for Healthy Communities in downtown Los Angeles. Facilitated by our great friends at Generations United, and moderated by GU’s Executive Director Donna Butts, the all-day session was attended by over 70 Southern California nonprofit organizations, including 11 of their CEOs.

The day was packed with an agenda full of industry leaders and experts, all engaged in creating and implementing intergenerational models in multi-disciplined organizations. Phyllis Segal, VP at Encore.org, started the day with an opening session on Engaging Encore Talent. Donna Butts spoke about the Benefits of Becoming an Age-Advantaged Organization. A panel of experts (Tim Carpenter from EngAGE, Marie Brown-Mercadel of San Diego County, Marianne Haver-Hill of MEND, Tom Kamber from Older Adults Technology Services, and Carrie Ryan, GU’s 2009 Outstanding Youth Volunteer) explained concretely and specifically why they utilized intergenerational solutions in their organizations, and what it could look like for the attendees’ non-profits. And the day concluded with hands-on idea incubator breakout sessions, where content experts attempted to take the participants into a deeper dive about how they could best utilize the strategies they’d learned earlier in the day in their specific organizations.

Participants left with a firm understanding of why intergenerational solutions are important, how they’ve worked in other organizations and in other localities, and how best they could be utilized in their own work. Not every organization will immediately apply an intergenerational lens to their work, but some will, and the others will at least be aware of why we feel this approach is not only nice, but necessary.

At The Eisner Foundation, we firmly believe that to solve society’s most intractable problems, we need to work intergenerationally and find solutions that unite multiple generations. And we think that we must as a society treat our youngest and oldest citizens not as burdens, but as treasured resources to be utilized as assets. Our Intergenerational Convening and Training in November was our first step in attempting to build an army of others that believe similarly. It won’t be our last.

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