How Foundations Can Foster Intergenerational Solutions

June 25, 2021
The vital importance of intergenerational solutions to today's multiple challenges worldwide is the topic of a widely-read paper supported by GenSpace and the Annenberg Foundation.

Commissioned by and written by business journalist Sarah Murray, “The Power of Connecting the Generations” finds that when older and younger people are brought together, they can help spark innovation and creativity to solve global issues.

Murray’s findings show that older adults find purpose and companionship while instructing or entertaining students and youth, and research suggests that children’s development accelerates as a result of this interaction.

However, Murray notes in a blog posting describing her writing process that in order to truly create space for these benefits to come to life, we need to understand the institutional and industrialized barriers between generations. So, what can philanthropic foundations do to help break down the cultural and institutional barriers between generations? Here are a few ideas for Funders from Murray’s research:

  • Take full advantage of age diversity – similar to economic and racial diversity – as a lens through which to design and evaluate programs and strategies
  • Create an intergenerational pillar to support initiatives and nonprofits that are bringing together different age groups in their models for social change
  • Broaden grantmaking to support cross-generational initiatives that don’t fit into traditional funding boxes

Many foundations are still at the very beginning of uncovering the rich rewards of age diversity. At GenSpace, we want to continue create space and opportunities for partnerships to encourage age diversity and inclusion. We feel that our mission and programs – such as GenChats, a weekly intergenerational program pairing seniors with high school students conversations – will be just one of the many ways we demonstrate the benefits of multigenerational work.

“With more generations alive at the same time today than ever before, this is a moment to tap into our collective powers, where flexibility and dynamism of youth meet the experience, wisdom and understanding of age.”

Sarah Murray

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