Gen2Gen Innovation Fellowship

The Gen2Gen Innovation Fellowship supports practical visionaries of all ages with ambitious initiatives to bridge generational divides.

Announcing the 2020 Gen2Gen Innovation Fellows

There is a critical need for new ways to bring older and younger people together.

Connections between generations were strained before Covid-19. Since then, physical distancing has created more division, disconnection, ageism and loneliness. By separating us, the pandemic has created a deeper appreciation for our essential interdependence and for the creativity that will be needed to bring young and old together again when it’s safe. To boost and support that creativity, and to respond to our urgent need for connection, our nation’s most talented innovators and entrepreneurs are marshaling their best ideas to create and scale intergenerational solutions.

The first 15 Gen2Gen Innovation Fellows are bringing generations together to fight social isolation, even the playing field for youth, create stronger cities and more affordable housing, strengthen the multigenerational workforce, and so much more.

Here’s a brief introduction to the group. Stay tuned for more ways to get to know each of them in the coming months.

Aditi Merchant, Co-founder, Big & Mini
Reducing isolation through unexpected intergenerational friendships

Alex Owens, Founder, Be Loud Studios
Helping youth and elders tell their collective story through radio and digital media

Arielle Ayala, Associate Director of Stockton Service Corps, Reinvent Stockton Foundation
Anchoring national service in intergenerational collaboration

Brittany T. Paschall, Founder & Board Chair, We Remember Nashville
Bringing generational healing and compassionate action to Nashville

Charlotte Japp, Founder, CIRKEL
Connecting older and younger professionals for two-way mentorship and networking

Dana Griffin, Co-Founder & CEO, Eldera
Harnessing technology to build a virtual global village for elders and youth

Elizabeth “Like” Lokon, Founder & Director, Opening Minds through Art, Scripps Gerontology Center, Miami University
Creating a dementia-friendly app that fosters intergenerational friendship through collaborative art

Gee Kin Chou, Co-founder, The Boombox Collaboratory
Enabling older adults who have connections to make introductions for kids who don’t

Jim Isenberg, Co-founder, Grandpas United
Mobilizing grandpas to be role models for boys, changing the narrative about older men in the process

Lennon Flowers, Co-Founder & Executive Director, The Dinner Party
Piloting a new intergenerational approach to grief and loss

Noelle Marcus, CEO & Founder, Nesterly
Tackling urban housing affordability and aging in place through intergenerational homesharing

Rowena Richie, Artist & Teacher, For You and Senior Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health, Atlantic Institute
Launching a creative movement of art making as gift giving between artists and elders

Sarah LaFave, Board President & Founder, Lori’s Hands
Transforming the learning experience of next-generation health care leaders and the lives of their chronically ill patients

Sherreta R. Harrison, Sustainability Catalyst, MetroMorphosis
Sustaining the social sector through intergenerational co-leadership models

Sue Phillips, Co-Founder, Sacred Design Lab
Helping high-impact organizations bring spiritual wellness and intergenerational joy to their work

Fellows in action

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: The Power of Friendship Across Generations
Includes Big & Mini | March 2, 2021


GOOD MORNING AMERICA: Throwing a dinner party for people coping with loss and grief
Features Lennon Flowers / The Dinner Party | December 11, 2020


THE ATLANTIC: Grandparents Could Ease the Burden of Homeschooling
Includes Dana Griffin / Eldera | September 10, 2020



Thanks to the generous funders of this fellowship:

  • The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
  • The Eisner Foundation
  • John Templeton Foundation
  • The May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust
  • RRF Foundation for Aging

Gen2Gen Innovation Showcase Judges

The Gen2Gen Innovation Showcase is a virtual live-pitch event taking place in Spring 2021. All 15 fellows will be featured at the event for a chance to win a $5,000 prize awarded by the following judges:

  • Amy Clark, Communications, Ashoka U.S.
  • Andrew J. Scott, Professor of Economics and former Deputy Dean at London Business School
  • Carol Larson, former President & CEO, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
  • Courtney E. Martin, Co-founder, Solutions Journalism Network
  • Chip Conley, Founder, Modern Elder Academy, Strategic Advisor, Airbnb, and Founder, Joie de Vivre Hospitality
  • David Hsu, Fellow, Omidyar Network
  • David Vásquez-Levy, President, Pacific School of Religion
  • Donna Butts, Executive Director, Generations United
  • Eric Liu, Co-founder & CEO, Citizen University
  • Gara LaMarche, President, Democracy Alliance
  • Jamal Joseph, Founder & Executive Artistic Director, IMPACT Repertory Theatre
  • Jason Marsh, Executive Director, Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley
  • Jehan Velji, Managing Director, Blue Meridian Partners
  • Jenn Lishansky, Chief Engagement Officer, Be Social Change
  • Jennie Chin Hansen, former President AARP, Former CEO American Geriatrics Society
  • John Gomperts, former President & CEO, America’s Promise Alliance
  • Justin Kaufflin, Jazz Pianist and Composer, featured in Keep on Keepin’ On
  • Kate Schaefers, Executive Director, University of Minnesota Advanced Careers Initiative
  • Keanne Henry, Vice President, AARP
  • Laura Carstensen, Director, Stanford Center on Longevity, Stanford University
  • Lester Strong, Founder, The Peaceful Guardians Project and former CEO, AARP Experience Corps
  • Lori Broglio Severens, Associate Director, Ascend at the Aspen Institute
  • Max Tuchman, Co-founder & CEO, Caribu
  • Nancy Morrow-Howell, Director, Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging, Washington University, St. Louis
  • Patrice Martin, Co-founder & CEO, The Holding Co.
  • Ruth Wooden, Program Director, Union Theological Seminary, former President of Public Agenda and the Ad Council
  • Robert Egger, Founder, DC Central Kitchen
  • Sandro Olivieri, President, Productive and Entrepreneur-in-Residence, AT&T Aspire Accelerator
  • Sherry Lansing, The Sherry Lansing Foundation & Former Chairman, Paramount Pictures
  • Sherry Turkle, Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology, MIT
  • William Damon, Professor & Director, Center on Adolescence, Stanford University


Why offer this fellowship now?

​The nation’s inequalities are in full view. We need bold thinkers and bridge builders to lead the way toward a better future.

Connections between generations were strained before Covid-19. Since then, physical distancing has created more division, disconnection, ageism and loneliness — all while reminding us how much we need one another.

By separating us, the pandemic has created a deeper appreciation for our essential interdependence and for the creativity that will be needed to bring young and old together again when it’s over.

To boost and support that creativity — and to respond to our urgent need for connection across divides — we launched the Gen2Gen Innovation Fellowship. In service of a better future for all generations, our nation’s most talented innovators and entrepreneurs are marshalling their best ideas to create and scale intergenerational solutions.

What are’s goals?
  • The overarching goal of the fellowship is to elevate, catalyze and support social innovation and entrepreneurship aimed at addressing cross-generational disconnection and division. 
  • We help fellows move through an inflection point in their work, further test their idea, develop traction, and shift to the next stage of progress and impact in their work.  
  • And in the process, we work to influence and engage the broader field of social innovation, a world that has largely ignored aging and intergenerational issues. 
What do fellows receive if selected for the fellowship?
  • A powerful, cohort experience with a mix of virtual and in-person sessions over nine months.
  • $10,000 to advance their Gen2Gen work and the chance to win a $5,000 Judges’ Prize at the Gen2Gen Innovation Showcase, a virtual live-pitch event.
  • An opportunity to be showcased at Gen2Gen Live, a convening of the most talented changemakers and thought leaders working in the intergenerational arena.
  • Expert coaching and training to advance their program design, and help them pitch to funders and tell their own story well and widely.
  • Exposure to important networks, including funders and experts in the field.
  • Traditional and social media attention.
  • Professional photography and editorial support.


Who is eligible for this fellowship?

You are eligible if:

  • You have an intergenerational program in place, in an early stage or significant period of growth.
  • Your project leverages the assets of adults 50+ to bridge generational divides.
  • You can commit to fully participating in fellowship meetings.

You SHOULD NOT apply for the fellowship if:

  • Your project does not connect older and younger people.
  • Your project is still in the idea stage and does not have an observable pilot on the ground.
  • Your project has a partisan political agenda.
  • Your project is intended to promote a specific faith or is exclusively sectarian. (We do encourage faith-based organizations that have a broader social mission to apply.)
  • Your project solely benefits people outside of the U.S.

Applications can be submitted by an individual associated with an existing organization OR by an individual who is not yet formally incorporated as an organization or affiliated with an organization.

Can people who won the Purpose Prize or the Encore Prize apply?

Previous prize winners and fellows are welcome to apply if they have a new idea. Previous work that was supported will not be funded again.

Are international applications accepted?

No. Applicants must be U.S.-based.


What criteria will be used to select fellows?

Applicants are judged on the following criteria:

  • Compelling story. Can the work and the applicant inspire others to engage the talents of older adults to connect the generations?
  • Innovation. Is the applicant using a new or creative approach, or making critical improvements to existing models?
  • Encore fit. Does the applicant engage people 50+ in a way that sees aging through an asset-based lens?
  • Impact. Does the model serve communities that stand to gain the most from increased social connection? Is there strong potential or existing evidence that the program works? Is there a way to measure impact in the future?
  • Scalability or replicability. Does the work have the potential to spread?
  • Leadership. Has the applicant demonstrated leadership in their field or within their community?


Ideal fellow candidates are:

  • Solutions-oriented innovators and creatives working at the intersection of aging, intergenerational connection and social justice.
  • Practical visionaries eager to measurably advance their impact and invest in making intergenerational connection and collaboration the norm.
  • Promising entrepreneurs at an early inflection point beyond concept but before wide-scale implementation, poised to take a compelling and scalable pilot to the next level OR entrepreneurial leaders making fundamental shifts with far-reaching impact to embed new intergenerational practices in established programs.
  • Collaborative and humble learners committed to forming a supportive community with like-minded peers who live and lead Gen2Gen.
  • Deep believers in the assets and value of old and young as contributors to society and their own potential as leaders to make intergenerational connection and collaboration the norm.
Are innovative ideas sufficient?

No. All innovations are required to be at least in a pilot stage.

How “new” does the program need to be?

Existing programs that have added a significant improvement in the past few years are eligible.

What do you mean by “scalable” or “replicable”?

We look for projects that have the potential, at some point in the future, to engage hundreds, if not thousands, of older adults and younger people. We look for models that, within five or 10 years, could be big enough to have a significant impact or could be replicated by others in other geographic areas.

Can nonprofit and for-profit organizations apply?

Yes, the fellowship is open to individuals working with nonprofits, for-profits, hybrid models, or  civic institutions. The fellowship is also open to those not affiliated with any organization.

Are you interested in fellows who engage young people to help older ones?

We look for ideas that highlight the value of older adult experience in relationships that connect the generations for mutual benefit. Applications engaging young people to help older people are only considered if the interactions are designed to also call upon the assets of older people.

How do I nominate someone?

Nominations are now closed. Join our mailing list here to be notified about the next fellowship cycle.

How do I apply?

Applications are now closed. Join our mailing list here to be notified about the next fellowship cycle.

Fellowship Participation

What is the curriculum for the fellowship?

Fellows move through three modules focused on honing their intergenerational model, crafting a compelling pitch to potential investors and partners, and spreading their ideas to a broader audience and influencing the national conversation.

If I am a co-founder, can more than one of us participate in fellowship sessions?

While some virtual meetings may be able to accommodate more than one person from a project, the fellowship is for a single individual.

How many fellows are in a cohort?

We have 15 fellows this year and aim to select another 15 next year. While multiple people from a team can participate in parts of the fellowship (social media consulting, initial storytelling webinar, etc.), the majority of activities will be for the 15 fellows selected.

What can I do with the cash award?

The cash award goes to the individual fellow or organization (fellows may choose) and has no restrictions or conditions. The first half of the cash award is dispersed at the start of the fellowship. The second half of the award is dispersed shortly after the virtual Gen2Gen Innovation Showcase. Cash awards not directed to a 501(c)3 nonprofit may be subject to tax. We recommend fellows seek the counsel of their tax advisor if they have questions on potential tax implications of the award.

What happens if I change jobs during the fellowship or my project folds?

The fellowship is an investment in the growth, development and success of the innovator and their body of intergenerational work, not specifically the organization they are affiliated with. 

To this end, we expect that some ideas, no matter how promising, may not pan out. This is a natural and necessary risk inherent in investing in early-stage entrepreneurship. We select highly creative and committed fellows with the entrepreneurial horsepower to pivot if they run into roadblocks. In the event a fellow’s pilot project cannot be sustained or completed, we will continue to support that fellow as they pursue a new intergenerational endeavor.

If a fellow leaves an organization and does not plan to launch a new intergenerational endeavor, we will consider — on a case-by-case basis — allowing the fellow to transfer their fellowship to the new project lead. The new project lead will need to submit a new fellowship application and be approved by the selection committee. There will not be a second $10,000 grant awarded to the new project lead.

How much time does the fellowship require?

Fellows participate in one virtual half-day cohort meeting per month for the duration of the nine-month fellowship. Supplemental individual coaching sessions are offered based on the interest and availability of the individual participants. These coaching sessions are optional, except for three pitch coaching sessions with Andy Goodman in preparation for the Gen2Gen Innovation Showcase and a consultation with a member of’s communications team to hone their op-ed. Fellows should expect to do independent work between meetings, but that work is designed to closely align with and enhance what fellows are already doing to advance their projects. These requirements may shift when we are able to safely travel and convene in person.

How long does the fellowship last?

While formal fellowship activities begin in October and last for nine months, fellows are considered “fellows-for-life.” proactively seeks opportunities to elevate graduated fellows as leaders of the broader Encore/Gen2Gen movement in the following ways:

  • Connect fellows with media interviews, writing opportunities and speaking roles.
  • Engage fellows as advisors to our work and mentors to other fellows.
  • Ask fellows to serve as reviewers in the selection process for future fellows.
Are there requirements to successfully “graduate” from the fellowship?


  • Fellows must actively participate in virtual and in-person meetings (including Gen2Gen Live).
  • Fellows must be generous in peer learning, coaching and support of their cohort, and serve as an informal ambassador during the fellowship.
  • Fellows must produce and deliver a three-minute pitch of their Gen2Gen work, while moving their initiative to the next stage of development and laying a foundation for the next stage of influence and impact.
  • Fellows must also produce one op-ed or equivalent in significant interviews, keynote speech, performance, etc.

For more information

I’ve got more questions. What can I do to get them answered?

If your questions aren’t answered here, please send questions to’s Director of Innovation Janet Oh at [email protected].

I heard you run other fellowship programs. How can I learn more?

Check out our two other fellowship programs, the Encore Public Voices Fellowship and the Encore Fellows™ program.

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