EngAGEment Snapshot: Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania


Guest Post by Kathy McCauley, EngAGEment Coordinator, Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania

Ours is a story of learning from what experienced sites and our local advisors had to tell us.

Just to focus on the value of that local group: Barbara Taylor, executive director of Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania (GWP), assembled an advisory board that knew the issues, knew this community, and devoted a lot of time to being part of the programs and talking with other funders. We were fortunate to have in this group people with such national perspective as Nancy Zionts (Jewish Healthcare Foundation) and Mary Anne Papale (Highmark Foundation), along with a team of such creative minds and diverse experience as Amy Snider (United Way of Allegheny County and, more recently, the David S. and Karen A. Shapira Foundation), Mildred Morrison (Allegheny County AAA), Dr. Judith Black (Highmark), and Nancy Kukovich (Adelphoi USA).

Here’s one example of this group at work: when I proposed a set of programs for year two, the group said, “Those are nice, Kathy, but we need to get the engagement of our larger foundations. Why not ask them how they have sparked change, and ask them to help how we could do that for aging?” That is how we decided on one of our central programs, “How’d they do it?”—which gave us a deeper understanding of how to help change our region’s approach to tapping the talent of older adults and supporting healthy aging.

GWP Engagement Programs

Here are the programs we organized to raise awareness and engage foundations:

  1. 40 and Counting, a program on the shift in demographics in Western Pa, featuring Alan Berube of the Brookings Institution and Dr. Richard Schulz, Institute on Aging, University of Pittsburgh. Advisory committee member Mildred Morrison moderated the program and GWP co-sponsored it with the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute of Politics.
  2.  Where the Heart Is: Older Adults and Vibrant Neighborhoods, which highlighted what we need to do to create communities and homes where we can age in place. Advisory committee member Nancy Kukovich moderated and David Hoglund, of the architectural firm Perkins Eastman, PA Secretary of Aging Brian Duke, and Gail Kohn, formerly of Capitol Hill Village, spoke with funders and leaders in local redevelopment.
  3. Our Hidden Workforce, a program about caregivers that included Bobbi Watt Geer, United Way of Westmoreland County, who spoke about Faith in Action; and Pamela Vingle of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, who spoke about the Caregiver Champions initiative. Advisory committee member Nancy Zionts moderated.
  4. How’d They Do It, which was moderated by a senior program officer from a large local foundation and featured Marge Petruska of The Heinz Endowments and Kristy Trautmann of the FISA Foundation.
  5. Leveraging Technology for Better Health, which featured Dr. Kamal Jethwani of the Center for Connected Health. His presentation had relevance for funders interested in economic development and the health of older adults, individuals with disabilities or, really, anyone.

What’s Next

Barbara Taylor has confirmed that Marc Freedman, author of The Big Shift, will be the keynote speaker at GWP’s annual meeting this November. If we wanted to be sure to reach most of our region’s funders—and make an impact—this is about the best way imaginable.

Thanks so much to the Atlantic Philanthropies and our local funders for their support, as well as the EngAGEment team and Grantmakers in Aging. This continues to be a project that is reaching and engaging funders.

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