To help drive creative new ways to keep seniors productive and connected to their communities, the Community Foundation launched the Senior Engagement Program to explore and support innovative new volunteer-driven, community-based programs designed to help seniors live independently as they age.
In southeast Michigan, the percentage of the population age 60 and older is rising at a much faster rate than all other age groups. By 2035, those age 65 and older will comprise more than a third of the residents in southeast Michigan. Clearly, the extent to which these seniors remain in good health and live independent and satisfying lives is of significant consequence to us all.
Several years ago, the Community Foundation began to systematically assess the needs, conditions and interests of older adults. With the support of the Imani Fund, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan created the Senior Engagement Program. Each of the program’s five “Innovation Grants” supported a partnership between an organization with a strong tradition of service to older adults and the elderly with one that is new to this sector.
The medical, social, transportation, housing and service needs of the region’s older citizens are intensifying just as resources to support them are in decline. To begin to meet this challenge, over the past five years the Community Foundation has provided nearly $1.6 million to organizations serving older adults.
The Senior Engagement Program has helped participating organizations:
The result has been a variety of innovative approaches to issues ranging from employment and career retraining to fostering active and healthy lifestyles, promoting volunteerism and intergenerational social connections, and providing transportation options. We look forward to sharing ongoing reports on these and other programs aimed at enriching the lives of older residents and those they touch.
Projects funded over the past five years include:
The BOOMing Economy is a call to displaced baby boomers to build new careers and find new opportunities through entrepreneurship. The program includes expert training, networking, mentoring and business development services targeted to baby boomers. The project also markets TechTown’s entrepreneurial training programs to older adults. Partners include: Operation ABLE of Michigan, AARP, The Luella Hannan Memorial Foundation and TechTown.
The Senior Mobility Outreach Project is an innovative collaboration among four county regional transportation agencies and a number of social service agencies that are gathering data about unmet mobility and transportation needs among the elderly. The project is training and supporting advocates for safe, convenient and cohesive public transit that is accessible to seniors. Project partners include: Transportation Riders United, Mobility Options Counseling, the American Automobile Association and Data Driven Detroit.
The Chadsey Condon Community TimeBank provides companionship and helpful services to low-income, homebound elderly in the Chadsey/Condon community from neighborhood youth who are compensated for learning eldercare skills. Younger adults in the community also provide and share volunteer services through a community TimeBank. Project partners are: Bridging Communities Inc. and Michigan Alliance of Timebanks Inc.
Gardening Angels recruits middle-income seniors to engage youth in gardening. In addition to promoting intergenerational education and recreation in several Detroit schools, these senior volunteer Community Education Fellows promote healthy food choices and urban environmentalism in their neighborhoods. Project partners include: the East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Building Movement Detroit, the Luella Hannan Memorial Foundation, the Michigan Welfare Rights Association, Barbara Jordan Elementary and other Detroit schools.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact:
313.961.6675, ext. 122