Eisner Foundation Provides $1 Million for Programs Tying Youth and Seniors

Kathy, an 826LA volunteer, working with a student. Photo courtesy of The Eisner Foundation.

In the wake of a report examining America’s shared spaces for both children and seniors, the Eisner Foundation is investing $1 million to support so-called “intergenerational sites” in Los Angeles.

Intergenerational shared sites co-locate services for young people and older adults, with activities and events that bring the two populations together. The report from the Eisner Foundation and Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group Generations United found that there are 110 such sites across the United States.

“Intergenerational shared sites are prime for development in every community that cares about the quality of life for residents of all ages,” said Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United in a press release issued to announce the report.

Among the grantees is the Alliance for Children’s Rights, which was awarded $150,000 to support self-advocacy training and informational tools for kinship care families. Other grantees include the LGBT Center, 826LA, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles. These programs provide a variety of intergenerational services including career development, music training and a senior volunteer corps that tutors underserved youth.

“From the mentoring provided by older adults to children at organizations like 826LA and the LA Phil to the LA LGBT Center’s new intergenerational culinary training program, this quarter’s grantees show the range of what intergenerational programs can be,” said Eisner Foundation CEO Trent Stamp in a statement provided to The Chronicle. 

826LA volunteers work with kids on their reading and writing, helping them with these essential skills while building long-term relationships. Photo courtesy of The Eisner Foundation.

The Eisner Foundation invested nearly $3 million last year in research around intergenerational sites, and found that while they had widespread public support, there was very little knowledge around how they work and how to build them. A survey conducted last year as part of this research found that 94 percent of Americans believe that the elderly have skills and knowledge that can help youth in need and that 89 percent believe the younger generations have value in helping the elderly, especially in combatting the mental health dangers associated with loneliness and isolation. However, only about a quarter of Americans are aware of intergenerational sites in their communities.

Shared site programs also provide operational benefits like increasing cost efficiency by sharing costs of rent, resources and staff.

Such sites could prove especially helpful as the population share of older people grows and communities across the country vie for resources to provide programs and resources for youth.

“There’s a convergence of opportunity at hand,” the 2018 report, “All In Together” says. The demand for quality children and youth services compounded with the increasing need for creative older adult programs creates an environment ripe for innovative age-integrated care.”

The 2019 report found that most of the country’s 110 intergenerational shared sites involve preschool or childcare programs for kids younger than 5 years old, but there are also models involving summer programs, before- and after-school programs and primary- and secondary-school classes. These programs can be co-located at facilities providing adult day services, assisted living center and nursing homes, among other locations.

The Eisner Foundation provided $1 million in similar grants last year, including to two organizations that serve foster youth. Partners for Children South L.A. received $100,000 to support their kinship care program and ONEgeneration received $250,000 to support a merger with Grandparents As Parents (GAP), an organization which advocates on behalf of grandparents who take in foster children.

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Sara Tiano, Staff Writer, The Chronicle of Social Change
About Sara Tiano, Staff Writer, The Chronicle of Social Change 124 Articles
General assignment reporter for The Chronicle of Social Change. Reach her at stiano@chronicleofsocialchange.org.