Generations Serving Together

An incentive grant to age-integrate national service

The grant opportunity

Encore.org will award four $25,000 grants to cogenerational initiatives that create new initiatives or significantly expand or deepen existing programs that unite older and younger to serve together. Grant recipients will participate in a powerful, virtual cohort experience, rooted in peer learning, problem solving, networking and mutual aid. Stories of grantees’ work will be shared with Encore.org’s audience of supporters and media.

Our goal is to help grantees launch and strengthen intentional cogenerational work, develop traction, and increase impact. In the process, we hope to influence and engage the broader field of national service, which is perfectly poised to leverage cogenerational solutions.

Leaders from AmeriCorps State & National and AmeriCorps Seniors welcome this initiative.

Michael Smith

“I’m excited about all that Encore.org’s Generations Serving Together grants will show us about the power of older and younger generations serving together. Let’s get all ages together and get things done.”
— AmeriCorps CEO Michael D. Smith

Michael Smith

“I’m excited about all that Encore.org’s Generations Serving Together grants will show us about the power of older and younger generations serving together. Let’s get all ages together and get things done.”
— AmeriCorps CEO Michael D. Smith

This grant is only open to applicants who are current grantees or sponsors in any of the four AmeriCorps programs — State & National, VISTA, NCCC, or AmeriCorps Seniors.

The grant period covers 12 months, from July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023.
The application period closed at 5pm PT on Friday April 22, 2022.

The problem

In the United States, age segregation is common in national service, with AmeriCorps State & National, AmeriCorps VISTA and AmeriCorps NCCC largely enrolling young people, and AmeriCorps Seniors (formerly Senior Corps) exclusively recruiting older ones. This siloed approach limits opportunities to bridge divides, tap the best of all generations, and create transformational social change. In these polarized times, these are opportunities we can ill afford to squander. 

Now more than ever, we need new ways to bring older and younger AmeriCorps members and volunteers together to solve problems, bridge divides and co-create the future. 

The solution

We believe national service can play a critical role in showcasing new and powerful models of cogeneration,* with older and younger AmeriCorps members and volunteers working side by side to fight for racial justice, combat climate change, address educational inequities, create affordable housing, reduce social isolation and loneliness, and so much more.

*We define “cogeneration” as the power generated when older and younger people come together to solve problems, bridge divides, and co-create the future.

Funding priorities

To receive consideration for funding, applicants must show that cogenerational civic engagement and social cohesion is a significant and intentional part of the proposed program focus and intended outcomes. Those who will be serving can be a mix of AmeriCorps and non-AmeriCorps members and volunteers.

We will give priority consideration to:

    • Efforts that engage older and younger AmeriCorps members or volunteers serving side-by-side (for example, older and younger AmeriCorps members working together to run a nutrition program at a homeless shelter, or Foster Grandparent volunteers and younger AmeriCorps members tutoring kids in the same afterschool reading program).
    • Efforts that emphasize intergenerational collaboration between AmeriCorps members or volunteers with different but complementary roles (for example, younger AmeriCorps members installing vegetative barriers and older RSVP volunteers educating residents on wildfire preparation and emergency response).
    • Projects engaging a cogenerational strategy to meet urgent problems, including COVID-response or recovery, racial inequity, climate change, homelessness, unemployment, caregiving, educational inequity, polarization, etc.
    • Projects serving diverse and under-resourced communities.
    • Projects with diverse leadership and teams.
    • Organizations that have demonstrated effectiveness in measuring outcomes and scaling impact over time.

Important dates

    • Applications open Tuesday, March 15, 2022.
    • The deadline for submitting applications is Friday, April 22 at 5pm Pacific Time.
    • Finalists will be notified by May 13 and will have until June 3 to submit supplemental budget information and complete a virtual interview.
    • Grant awardees will be selected and notified by June 17.
    • The grant period will begin July 1, 2022.
    • The learning cohort will meet every third Thursday of the month from July 21, 2022 through June 15, 2023.
    • An interim report is due January 19, 2023.
    • The final report is due by July 20, 2023.

Recommended background reading 

Look at the links below for a better understanding of what it means to cogenerate and the potential for cogenerational approaches to transform national service.

Overview

Why offer this incentive grant now?

In the United States, age segregation is common in national service, with AmeriCorps State & National, AmeriCorps VISTA and AmeriCorps NCCC largely enrolling young people, and AmeriCorps Seniors (formerly Senior Corps) exclusively recruiting older ones. This siloed approach limits opportunities to bridge divides, tap the best of all generations, and create transformational social change. In these polarized times, these are opportunities we can ill afford to squander.

Is there a history of national service initiatives that bring generations together?

Many national service programs—which typically engage civilians in sustained, substantive, modestly paid service work at community-based organizations—involve cross-generational connection. AmeriCorps Seniors, for example, enlists 20,000 Foster Grandparent volunteers over the age of 55 to work with disadvantaged and disabled children. And many AmeriCorps members serve older adults, helping with home repairs, providing transportation, and delivering meals. These efforts have demonstrated considerable mutual benefits, even when the service is formally directed either up or down the generational chain.

But cogenerational service programs—which we define as national service efforts that deploy older and younger people to serve together—remain largely undeveloped. For a few years, the National and Community Service Act of 1990—aimed at expanding “full-time and part-time service opportunities for all citizens, particularly youth and older Americans”—gave rise to a bevy of creative and explicitly cogenerational pilots, including the Delta Service Corps in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana, and the Urban Schools Service Corps in New Jersey. A quarter of Urban Schools Service Corps members were aged 50 and older, including many retired teachers and principals, who worked alongside younger adults in low-income school districts to improve students’ academic performance.

What about today? Are national service programs that bring generations together rare?

Today, while older and younger people often stumble into cogenerational service—serving side by side in schools and food banks across the country, for example—it is more by happenstance than design. Only a few organizations intentionally engage both older and younger AmeriCorps members or volunteers, and despite considerable advances in national service over the past 30 years (witness the growth of efforts like City Year and Teach For America) there is still nothing resembling Kennedy’s dream of a national service corps spanning the generations, in action together, to help solve problems facing communities and the country.

What’s your goal in launching this program?

Now more than ever, we need new ways to bring older and younger Americorps members and volunteers together to solve problems, bridge divides and co-create the future.

We believe national service can play a critical role in showcasing new and powerful models of cogeneration, with older and younger members and volunteers working side by side to fight for racial justice, combat climate change, address educational inequities, create affordable housing, reduce social isolation and loneliness, and so much more.

Our goal is to help grantees launch and strengthen intentional cogenerational work, develop traction, and increase impact. In the process, we hope to influence and engage the broader field of national service, which is perfectly poised to leverage powerful cogenerational solutions.

What exactly do you mean by cogeneration?

When we use “cogeneration,” we mean the power generated when older and younger people come together to solve problems and bridge divides.

How do you define cogenerational service programs?

We define cogenerational service programs as AmeriCorps-funded efforts that deploy older and younger members or volunteers to serve together. This can include:

  • Younger national service members serving alongside older national service members.
  • Younger corps members serving alongside community volunteers who are over 55 and not part of AmeriCorps.
  • Younger community volunteers (including youth volunteers) who are not part of AmeriCorps but are serving alongside national service members over 55.

What will selected grantees receive?

Encore.org will award four $25,000 grants to cogenerational initiatives that create new initiatives or significantly expand or deepen existing programs that unite older and younger to serve together.

Grant recipients will participate in a powerful, virtual cohort experience, rooted in peer learning, problem solving, networking and mutual aid. Stories of grantees’ work will be shared with Encore.org’s audience of supporters and media.

Eligibility

Who is eligible for this grant opportunity?

Your organization is eligible if you meet all three of the criteria below:

    • You are a current grantee or sponsor in any of the four AmeriCorps programs  — State & National, VISTA, NCCC, or AmeriCorps Seniors. Programs that expect to receive AmeriCorps funding or sponsorship by June 1, 2022 can apply.
    • You are interested in creating new initiatives or significantly expanding or deepening existing national service programs that bring older adults together with young people to solve problems and bridge divides.
    • You can identify an organizational lead and a project lead committed to participating in regularly scheduled cohort meetings for shared learning, problem solving and field building.

Your organization SHOULD NOT apply if:

    • Your project is not currently receiving (and will not receive by June 1, 2022) AmeriCorps funding or sponsorship.
    • Your project does not bring older adults and younger people to serve together.
    • 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.
    • You have not identified and secured a commitment from an organizational lead and project lead who can be fully participating members of our peer learning cohort.

Can I apply if my organization receives confirmation of AmeriCorps funding by June 1, but the actual grant funds will not be in hand until after June 1?

Your organization is welcome to apply for the Generations Serving Together (GST) grant if you will receive confirmation of AmeriCorps funding by June 1, 2022 AND the funds will be made available to you no later than September 30, 2022. If your GST application is selected to advance to the final round, you will need to share proof of confirmed AmeriCorps funding by end of day June 1, 2022.

Can I apply if my organization will not receive confirmation of AmeriCorps funding by June 1 but is “quite certain” we will receive funding before August 31, 2022?

We will only consider applications in this situation if the AmeriCorps funding is a RENEWAL grant or sponsorship and you have a multi-year track record of receiving continuation funding, and/or can secure a letter from AmeriCorps by June 1 confirming its intention to renew your funding before September 30, 2022. Receipt of Generations Serving Together funds will be contingent on the official renewal of your AmeriCorps grant.

Can an AmeriCorps sub-grantee apply for the Generations Serving Together grant opportunity?

Yes.

Can organizations with prior association with Encore.org fellowships or prize programs apply?

Organizations that have a previous association with one of our fellowship or prize programs (e.g., Gen2Gen Innovation Fellowship, Encore Public Voices Fellowship, The Encore Prize, The Purpose Prize) are welcome to apply if they have launched a new cogenerational national service initiative or are significantly deepening or scaling their existing cogenerational national service work. Projects that have already been supported in the past will not be funded again.

Are international applications accepted?

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

Criteria

What criteria will be used to select grantees?

Applications will be judged on the following criteria:

    • Cogeneration. Does the applicant use or have plans to use the assets and talents of younger and older people working together for mutual benefit?
    • Innovation. Is the applicant using a new or creative cogenerational approach to national service or making critical improvements to existing cogenerational models?
    • Impact. Is there a solid plan to measure and evaluate the impact of the cogenerational initiative? Does the work have the potential to spread or scale?
    • Urgency. Does the work address an issue that is urgent and timely?
    • Compelling story. Can the applicant’s project inspire others to engage the talents of younger and older people to solve big social problems together?
    • Leadership. Does the applicant have what it takes to turn vision into reality?

 

Ideal applicants will be:

    • Solutions-oriented, committed to intergenerational connection, collaboration and social justice.
    • Entrepreneurial, with the skills to launch a compelling pilot and take it to the next level or to make fundamental shifts that will embed new cogenerational practices in established programs.
    • Collaborative and humble, committed to forming a supportive community with like-minded peers who live and lead cogenerationally.
    • Asset-based, with a deep belief that old and young are valuable contributors to society and that intergenerational connection and collaboration can become the new norm.

Does my cogenerational initiative need to be up and running?

No. But the strongest proposals will show evidence of readiness to launch quickly (committed partners, additional funding in hand, a pilot that builds on existing infrastructure, processes, and relationships, etc.).

How new does the program need to be?

Existing cogenerational programs will be considered, but they must demonstrate that they are ready to significantly deepen or expand their cogenerational efforts.

What do you mean by “potential to spread or scale”?

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

That said, we also look at what “spread and scale” means within the context of your community and your organizational mission. If you operate a program in a rural geography or on tribal lands, for example, or if your work is limited to a narrow geographic setting, we are interested in what meaningful spread or scale looks like to you, including how you might share your learnings and cogenerational program model with others to replicate elsewhere.

Are you interested in initiatives that engage young people serving older ones -- or older people serving younger ones?

We are looking for ideas that highlight olders and youngers serving alongside one another in ways that leverage their complementary assets – not ideas that are primarily about one generation serving the other.

Here are two examples of the type of cogenerational initiatives we’re interested in considering:

    • Efforts that engage older and younger AmeriCorps members or volunteers serving side-by-side (for example, older and younger AmeriCorps members working together to run a nutrition program at a homeless shelter, or Foster Grandparent volunteers and high school volunteers tutoring kids in the same afterschool reading program).
    • Efforts that emphasize intergenerational collaboration between AmeriCorps members or volunteers with different but complementary roles (for example, younger AmeriCorps members installing vegetative barriers and older RSVP volunteers educating residents on wildfire preparation and emergency response).

If we are between program years when our grant cycle begins, how should we report on member numbers and demographics?

Please include the number and demographics of your current cohort of older and younger AmeriCorps members or volunteers. Separately, also provide the number and demographics of older and younger AmeriCorps members or volunteers you expect to recruit in your next cycle.

Application

What happens after the application is submitted?

    • Encore.org staff will carefully evaluate your application.
    • Finalists will be notified by May 13 and will have until June 3 to submit supplemental budget information and complete a virtual interview.
    • Grant awardees will be selected and notified by June 17.
    • The grant period will begin July 1, 2022.
    • The learning cohort will meet every third Thursday of the month from July 21, 2022 through June 15, 2023.

Who reviews the applications?

Encore.org staff and advisors will review applications and make final selections.

Grant Award

How many grantees will be chosen and how much will be awarded?

Encore.org will award four $25,000 grants to cogenerational initiatives that age-integrate national service or significantly expand or deepen existing work that brings younger and older AmeriCorps members or volunteers  together to solve social problems.

What can I do with the grant funds?

The funds must help support your new or expanded cogenerational initiative. There are no specific requirements or limits on indirect versus direct costs. In the application, you will be asked to provide a budget narrative explaining how you plan to use the funds. You will be asked to submit a detailed budget only if selected to move forward to the final round of review. Generations Serving Together funds may be used toward your AmeriCorps match requirements.

What is the duration of the grant period?

Grant funds will be released in July 2022, and the grant period will last 12 months through June 2023. Encore.org will seek opportunities to elevate stories and learnings from the project during and after the grant period.

What kind of reporting will be required?

Progress updates and learnings will be shared informally by project leads during monthly cohort meetings. An interim report is due on January 19, 2023 and a final reflection on July 20, 2023. No reporting in e-grants will be required.

Will there be additional funding available from Encore.org for a second year?

We recognize that embedding and spreading new cogenerational models of national service may require more than one year of investment, so we’re working to secure additional funding. We hope to give grantees the opportunity to apply for a second year of funding.

Peer Learning Cohort

Who should be designated to participate in the peer learning cohort?

We require two people from your organization to participate in the peer learning cohort:

  • A project lead engaged in the design, implementation, evaluation, and management of this project.
  • An organizational lead with a broad enough view to envision expanded applications of cogenerational service beyond this pilot.

Where possible, we encourage you to select diverse and cogenerational representation for participation in the cohort.

How much time will the peer learning cohort require?

The project lead will attend monthly 90-minute virtual cohort meetings on the third Thursday of each month from 9:30-11am PT / 12:30-2pm ET, July 2022 through June 2023. The organizational lead will join the cohort meetings quarterly (July, Oct, Jan, April).

The specific cohort meeting dates are as follows:

  • July 21, 2022 – Project kick-off with both project and organizational leads
  • August 18, 2022 – project leads only
  • September 15, 2022 – project leads only
  • October 20, 2022 – project and organizational leads
  • November 17, 2022 – project leads only
  • December 15, 2022 – project leads only
  • January 19, 2023 – project and organizational leads
  • February 16, 2023 – project leads only
  • March 16, 2023 – project leads only
  • April 20, 2023 – project and organizational leads
  • May 18, 2023 – project leads only
  • June 15, 2023 – project leads only

Work that advances your organization’s cogenerational initiative will take place between each meeting. Cohort meetings will focus on peer learning, joint problem solving, networking, and access to experts in national service and intergenerational program development. Project and organizational leads will also be given opportunities to share lessons learned and stories of cogenerational service with the broader field. Individualized supplemental coaching will be offered based on the interest and availability of the participants.

Cohort participants will be invited to stay connected with the 200+ alumni of our innovation community after the grant is over.

Can the organizational lead and project lead be the same person?

They should be two different people, though we will make case-by-case exceptions for small organizations with limited staff. Please sign up for office hours to discuss.

Can the organizational lead be filled by two co-leads? Can the project lead be filled by two co-leads?

Yes, we are open to considering co-leads, including cogenerational leads (i.e., an older and younger pair). That said, our application is not set up for you to enter two organizational co-leads or two project co-leads. Please select one person as the main point of contact for each, and provide a sentence or two about the other co-lead wherever it fits best in your narrative response and/or optional video.

For More Information

I heard you have other fellowship and prize opportunities available. How can I learn more?

Learn more about our Encore Fellowships and Encore Physicians programs. The Gen2Gen Innovation Fellowship is not open at this time. Please join our mailing list to be updated on future opportunities.

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