In light of the rapidly changing demographics of American society, grantmakers should fund programs that cut across age divisions and look at the social and economic needs of society as a whole, pooling resources to improve outcomes for multiple generations, a new report from Generations United finds.
Despite preconceived notions about conflicting interests, there is no assurance that, in the current economic and political climate, cuts in services for one generation would go to support services for another generation. However, the report, Stronger Together: A Call to Innovation for Funders of Children, Youth, Families and Older Adults (6 pages, PDF), documents a number of key policy areas where the interests of youth, families, and older adults converge — including health care, family and medical leave, budget and tax policy, and the environment.
The report identifies a core set of intergenerational principles related to public policies and the tools to implement those principles, including a clear definition of intergenerational solidarity that extends beyond the family; commitment to using an intergenerational lens when developing or influencing policy; inclusion of the "missing middle" — both middle-aged people and those of middle income — in policy developments and reviews; a promise to avoid stigmatization and means testing; promotion of single interventions that positively affect multiple issues or populations; and a demonstrable connection between the social contract with children and older adults.
Launched by Generations United in December 2007 in collaboration with Grantmakers in Aging, Grantmakers for Children, Youth, and Families, and Just Partners, the Stronger Together initiative is supported by the Annie E. Casey and Robert Wood Johnson foundations.
"Our goal is to assist grantmakers in adopting a funding approach based on inclusion and shared values," said GU deputy director Jaia Peterson-Lent. "Foundations can transform neighborhoods by promoting and establishing intergenerational shared sites. Adult and child daycare facilities under the same roof, senior centers in schools, and schools operating as community learning centers are just a few of the many ways communities can use resources to connect generations rather than separate them."