Research and Publications

Efficiencies on the Road to a Multigenerational Workforce

When Mary Gunn took over as the new executive director of Generations Incorporated — a Boston-area nonprofit working to strengthen the literacy skills of young children by engaging people over the age of 50 as volunteer literacy tutors — her first impression was a powerful one. “I was struck by how young the staff was,” she writes. “I was easily 25 years older than the next oldest person in the room.” Her second impression: “All my colleagues were bright, hard-working and passionate about our mission. I was lucky to be among them, even if I was old enough to be their mother.” In the years since, Generations Incorporated has: built a multigenerational team reduced turnover expanded the size of its volunteer corps by 40 percent increased the number of children it serves by 75 percent improved reading outcomes, and decreased its operating budget by 12.5 percent. All at the same time. You can read about how they did it and what they learned along the way in a new case study “Efficiencies on the Road to a Multigenerational Workforce,” written by Gunn and published by

The Power and Purpose of Informal Community Leaders

In 2017, when Encore and researchers from the Stanford Graduate School of Education were beginning the Pathways to Encore Purpose project, Anne Colby, a psychologist at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education who has studied purpose across the life cycle, interviewed Hanmin Liu, co-founder of Wildflowers Institute, who made connections to informal elder leaders from three diverse Bay Area communities. “The Power and Purpose of Informal Community Leaders,” tells the stories of these community leaders and illustrates how each exemplifies purpose beyond the self, reveals the joy they gain from this work for the common good, and shows how the commitments of individuals can help create shared collective purpose in their communities.

MAKING THE CASE FOR INTERGENERATIONAL CHILDCARE: How Adults 50+ Can Support Home-Based and Family Childcare Centers

This paper will examine the meaningful roles that adults 50+ can play to help improve the quality of childcare for young children 0-5. It will show that intergenerational approaches to child care have the potential to create brighter futures for currently underserved youth; benefit older adults seeking purpose, income and connection; and unlock doors to economic prosperity for small business owners (mostly low-income women of color) currently running home-based and family childcare centers.

Hidden in Plain Sight: How Intergenerational Relationships Can Transform our Future

In June 2014, the Stanford Center on Longevity, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation joined together to convene the “Pass it On” conference of national experts, to explore how experienced adults can play critical roles in the lives of our children and youth, and to elevate generativity as a norm for the second half of life. This monograph builds on the key recommendations that emerged from the “Pass it On” conference to propose practical strategies for engaging encore talent to meet the needs of youth. It explains what organizations and communities can do, and encourages leaders and individuals alike to support and join efforts to mobilize experienced adults to work with children and youth. Two demographics — children in need of support and adults with the time and inclination to step into roles that provide it — fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.


To better understand how Encore Fellows deliver impact in the organizations in which they serve (usually 1000 hours over a one-year period in stipended roles to improve organizational capacity, Jacquelyn James, Co-director of the Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, interviewed fellows, executive directors and other key staff at three organizations across the U.S. that worked on issues advancing the needs of children and youth. The study highlights commonalities among these three organizations in how both
fellows and the nonprofit leadership approached the fellowship, with exceptional impact for the organizations and fellows alike.

The Encore Talent Impact Project: A Study of Encore Talent at Work

In 2015 and six study partners surveyed nonprofit organizations that had used people in encore roles and asked about the kinds of impact they had observed and the personal characteristics of the individuals that might have contributed to that impact. The results – from volunteers to stipended roles, people in encores deliver unexpected types of impact across the board.

Building Momentum for Encore Careers

Research trendlines since 2008 show broad appeal, rising interest and diminishing worries about the coming decades among people in midlife, according to national research by and Penn...