Tag Archives: EngAGEment

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. Continue reading


What’s Happening in Florida with the Engagement Initiative?

Guest Post by Maggie Gunther Osborn, Vice President, Florida Philanthropic Network

Florida is a natural partner for work in the aging arena right?  Of course, we have been called “God’s waiting room” and the place where older Americans come to retire and snowbirds that drive south during winter to warm their bones.  It’s where everyone comes to visit Mickey Mouse and Grandma and Grandpa.  Florida’s population is among the oldest in the country and in fact, we have the oldest county demographically in America, Sarasota County.

Sarasota median age: 44.5 years
Florida median age: 41.3 years
National median age 36.8 years

When I joined FPN in 2010 we were awarded a grant to be part of the final cohort of the GIA Engagement Initiative and I knew right away that I was in very new territory. My background as a grantmaker had been primarily in children and youth. Beyond funding for Seniors in Service I was very unaware of issues surrounding our aging population and even less familiar with what the members of FPN were doing in this arena. I had just not been in a place where I thought much about this burgeoning part of our community. As we began to discuss the possibilities of where we could go with our two years of effort, we signed on to partner with SECF, who was a year ahead of us in their engagement work and was creating regular webinars in which FPN’s members could participate. This being established we began to think of what else we could do. The discussions with my members, our funders, and the baseline survey provided the answers.

The member survey and subsequent programming have employed a broad view in asking our members about their funding and involvement in the aging arena. It was clear from our initial research and inquiry that, outside of the traditional framework of health funders, there were no funders among our membership that identified themselves as aging-issue funders, although many of them have some investment in the space. As FPN moved through planning discussions, we chose to work within the framework that all funders, in one way shape or form, are touching the aging population, especially those that are investing in safety net programming, economic development and housing during these difficult times. To address the broader audience of funders, FPN chose to meet them where they were in their funding, offering an additional lens of aging through which they could view their grantmaking.

We began to frame the conversation and all future programming outside traditional silos. Rather it became, and continues to be, the goal of FPN to look at the aging population as a lens that should always be used when looking at any grantmaking; not separate or apart but rather just another framing or piece of the whole puzzle. FPN has also tried to raise awareness of issues and opportunities not by separating out the conversation but rather by infiltrating conversations that Grantmakers and partners are already having. We have also tried adding some joy and energy to what can often times be heavy and unappealing subject matter; approaching from a frame of abundance rather than deprivation.

So what does this look like in Florida? First, one simple example was instead of having a session on aging issues at the 2012 summit that the usual suspects would attend, we educated the entire body of attendees by holding a trivia contest on aging facts that qualified attendees to be part of a drawing for an iPad and drew them to visit vendor booths. At the other end of the spectrum in Florida lies the incredible work that has given birth to The Institute for The Ages in Sarasota. The Institute for the Ages is a new “think” tank that came out of Florida’s economic development efforts. Their mission is to activate ideas that prepare us for the opportunities and challenges associated with aging populations. In addition to providing the infrastructure for, and access to, Sarasota County’s community test bed, the Institute connects members of the community, government, research organizations, companies and other partners to identify policy, product and service innovations that will improve the lives of people across age groups. The idea that aging populations are an economic engine that can be engaged and will drive the economic future for Sarasota is a reframing of the tradition conversation of this population being a drain on resources.

FPN has taken and will continue to take a nontraditional approach to this work and mark our success by shifts in attitudes and breadths of grantmaking that will encompass not isolate the aging populations as a valuable asset in our portfolios.

Engagement Snapshot: Aging in Connecticut

Guest Post by Deb Werner, Director of Member Services, Connecticut Council for Philanthropy

In January 2011, the Council joined the EngAGEment Initiative, becoming one of 16 regional associations participating in this program with Grantmakers in Aging (GIA). While the Council had been invited to join the EngAGEment Initiative when it originated, and again a few years ago, it was not until recently that the emerging “age wave” finally appeared on the radar screen of the Connecticut philanthropic community and our members.

The Council’s goal, supported by a Leadership Team composed of Council members, is to increase awareness and encourage funders to take an active interest in aging issues in their communities, and use their convening power, influence, knowledge and resources to assist in finding creative solutions. Continue reading

Engagement Snapshot: Philanthropy New York – A Strategic Approach

Guest Post by Beeta Jahedi, Assistant Manager, Professional Education, Philanthropy New York and Robert Hyfler, EngAGEment Initiative Program Consultant, Philanthropy New York

It was with great enthusiasm that Philanthropy New York signed on to the EngAGEment initiative and the funding partnership with Grantmakers In Aging. Philanthropy New York and our local co-funders, the John A. Hartford Foundation, the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation and FJC – A Foundation of Philanthropic Funds, quickly developed a senior staff working group to develop our local approach to the challenge of increasing foundation funding in age-related issues. A three-pronged strategy emerged:
  • Encourage our 280 grantmaking member organizations and their 2500 individual staff members and trustees to look carefully at age-related issues through the prism of their existing areas of focus and then integrate age-related concerns into their current mix of priorities.
  • Connect age-related concerns to Philanthropy New York’s own central focus on policy. To reinforce this priority, a close working and advisory relationship was forged with the New York Academy of Medicine and the city’s “Age Friendly NYC” initiative.
  • Increase the footprint of age-related issues within the institutional fabric of Philanthropy New York. Continue reading

EngAGement Snapshot: SECF – Utilizing Technology to Inform and Connect

by Patti Johnson, Coordinator of SECF EngAGEment Initiative, Southeastern Council of Foundations

The Southeastern Council of Foundations joined the Grantmakers in Aging EngAGEment Initiative in the summer of 2010 with the goal of informing its members about issues related to aging. Because SECF’s geographic service area is larger than any other regional association’s (11 southeastern states in two time zones), we knew from the outset that ours would be a technology-intensive approach. It is difficult to host a luncheon or a day-long meeting that will attract significant participation when so much territory has to be traveled. Instead, we’ve concentrated our efforts on providing web-based, peer-to-peer learning, encouraging SECF members to share information about issues and programs related to aging that is of interest to them. Our approach is webinar-based, with support from an active online community within the SECF website, YouTube and Facebook.

Continue reading

EngAGEment Snapshot: Arizona Grantmakers Forum

The EngAGEment Initiative partners Grantmakers in Aging with regional  associations of grantmakers and other national organizations to introduce grantmakers to the many needs of our aging population.

Guest Post by Lindsay Mitchell, Communications Associate, Arizona Grantmakers Forum

When I first joined Arizona Grantmakers Forum in November, it was just two months before the launch of our EngAGEment Initiative. Being a young/emerging professional in the philanthropic sector, I have to admit it that grantmaking in aging was not the most captivating issue to me. However, being as new to Arizona as I was to the Forum, I assumed that aging would be a hot topic among funders, nonprofits and policy makers here. After all, this is where huge numbers of people come to retire, if they can’t stand the Florida humidity—right? Continue reading

EngAGEment Snapshot: Indiana Grantmakers Alliance

The EngAGEment Initiative partners Grantmakers in Aging with regional  associations of grantmakers and other national organizations to introduce grantmakers to the many needs of our aging population.

Guest Post by Marie Beason, Director of Professional Development and Special Initiatives, Indiana Grantmakers Alliance

During my first week of employment at Indiana Grantmakers Alliance, I found a grant application for the Grantmakers in Aging EngAGEment Initiative on my desk. Having left my previous position as a nonprofit executive director because of my 82-year-old parents’ health concerns, I was intrigued. It seemed the application and goals of the initiative were as broad and complex as the issue of aging! So I did exactly what all good grant writers do and focused on what I thought I could deliver with limited resources and a strong passion. Continue reading