What if older and younger national service members and volunteers had more chances to work together to solve problems and bridge divides?
That’s the question our eight Generations Serving Together grantees (below) will answer in the coming year, as they launch, strengthen and study initiatives that bring older and younger AmeriCorps members and volunteers together in service to their communities.
Grantees will bring generations together to advance social justice, emergency preparedness, and mental health; improve homeless outreach and food delivery systems; and fight social isolation and loneliness. One grantee will study the impact of cogenerational service on tutoring programs.
All eight are current grantees or sponsors in at least one of the four AmeriCorps programs — State & National, VISTA, NCCC, or AmeriCorps Seniors.
“We’re out to show that national service, which has traditionally been age-segregated, can play a critical role in bringing older and younger corps members and volunteers together to create real change,” says Eunice Lin Nichols, co-CEO at Encore.org.
“Encore.org’s Generations Serving Together grants will strengthen national service and show us the power of older and younger generations serving together,” says AmeriCorps CEO Michael D. Smith. “I look forward to seeing the impact that AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers can have by coming together across the divides of age, race, culture and identity.”
Here are the eight winners of our $25,000 incentive grants to age-integrate national service:
Ampact (Minneapolis, MN) runs Reading Corps, Math Corps, and Early Learning Corps projects with programs powered by AmeriCorps. By surveying its age-diverse AmeriCorps members, Ampact will build the field’s understanding of cogenerational national service, including whether it leads tutors to value and respect the knowledge and lived experiences of individuals older or younger than themselves, enhances engagement in service, and improves tutors’ capacity to serve students.
ASU Lodestar Center (Phoenix, AZ) operates local Public Allies AmeriCorps, RSVP and Encore Fellows programs. Participants in these programs will come together to identify and co-create solutions that advance racial, economic, and social justice and increase community impact through cogenerational collaboration.
The Be Ready Alliance Coordinating for Emergencies (BRACE, Pensacola, FL) will engage its multigenerational AmeriCorps VISTA team in integrating cogenerational training and volunteer delivery of basic life support, CPR and FEMA services to current Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members, Teen CERT (youth), Campus CERT (young adults) and Veteran CERT (older adults).
The Fresno (CA) Economic Opportunities Commission’s Foster Grandparent Program will launch a new intergenerational mental wellness program based on curriculum from Brene Brown’s book, Atlas of the Heart. Working together, Foster Grandparents and California State University Fresno students will form cogenerational teams to teach emotional literacy to youth ages 7 to 20 in afterschool programs, a charter school and a foster care agency.
LISC AmeriCorps (NY HQ) will develop a Recruitment Playbook on how to make age diversity the norm in the recruitment, selection, and placement of AmeriCorps members. The playbook will help hiring managers reimagine where to recruit AmeriCorps members; uncover and remove age bias in the AmeriCorps selection process; and support the engagement, motivation and retention of cogenerational teams in increasing community impact.
Northern Santa Barbara County United Way (CA) will design and implement a cogenerational “buddy system” for its AmeriCorps members — a mix of Baby Boomers and Gen Zers, all working on homeless outreach and case management. Training and in-service project assignments will be designed to strengthen intergenerational communication and collaboration, with older members leaning on younger members for help understanding new language around racial justice, and younger members leaning on the life experience of older members for help building trust with clients.
Seniors in Service of Tampa Bay Inc. (FL) will recruit 50 volunteers from Generations X, Y and Z to serve alongside more than 100 RSVP volunteers (AmeriCorps Seniors) and 10 AmeriCorps Operation Veteran Connect members. Together, this cogenerational team will serve 250 people suffering from food insecurity at local food pantries. They will meet quarterly to support one another, share best practices and receive training on topics including ageism, social cohesion and DEI.
Spark the Change Colorado (Denver) will pilot a service learning initiative that engages equal numbers of fifth to seventh graders and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers for monthly meetings to learn about two critical challenges facing young and old alike: social isolation and food insecurity. Together, this cogenerational team will conduct research, identify gaps and collaborate to create service projects to address each problem.
Thanks to all who applied for these grants. Thanks to program supporters, including the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, the M Center of Excellence, the Eisner Foundation, the May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust, and MacKenzie Scott. And thanks to AmeriCorps for welcoming this initiative.