November 28, 2016

Campaign Aims to Mobilize Older Adults on Behalf of Youth-Serving Organizations

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Youth-serving organizations hope to reap the benefits of a new campaign to encourage more Americans ages 50 and older to volunteer in their communities.

The “Generation to Generation” campaign unites service and youth-serving organizations to meet the goal of connecting 1 million older Americans to opportunities that help young people thrive during the next five years.

“The campaign is a new take on an enduring idea — that societies thrive most fully when older and younger people come together, not just in families but in the greater community,” said Marc Freedman, CEO of Encore.org, the nonprofit group leading the campaign.

The campaign, which launched earlier this month, has drawn heavy-hitters in the youth-services field to its mission, including the Boys & Girls Club of America, Big Brothers Big Sisters, No Kid Hungry, MENTOR, the Afterschool Alliance and America’s Promise.

“Generation to Generation” will offer older adults a way to search for volunteer and other opportunities, as well as ways for other young-serving organizations to join the campaign as partners.

Michael Carter, the CEO of Strive for College, a California-based online mentoring organization for aspiring college students, said his group has set a goal of reaching 1 million students over three years.

The Generation to Generation Campaign taps into a new source of volunteers to help the group meet that goal.

“If we had to do this on our own, it would require a lot of resourcing from us. If they can do this successfully, it will be really helpful,” Carter said.

Strive for College originally paired prospective college students with enrolled college students as mentors but gradually expanded to include older adults after successful experiences working with corporate volunteers.

A deeper pool of potential mentors means prospective students have more options when they select a match, ensuring the best possible fit.

“There are students who say they want someone with more experience, with an established career, or some folks like the comfort of having someone who is more like a parent,” Carter said.

The campaign also will highlight innovative approaches to mentoring across the country, beginning with a focus on Boston, Los Angeles, San Jose and Seattle.

Alongside the launch of Generation to Generation, Encore.org released the results of a survey that found most adults of all ages agree life after 60 is or will be a good time for them, when they will have the opportunity to enjoy freedom, growth and giving back to their communities.

In addition, 65 percent of respondents believe demographic and generational change can be a source of strength for the nation.

“In a year awash in political, racial and economic polarization, a nationwide survey by Encore.org has found that the American public values the interdependence of younger and older generations, and has little appetite for a ‘generation war,’” an analysis of the survey said.