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OASIS Receives $2.5 Million from The Atlantic Philanthropies To Expand

Resource type: News

PNN Online |

The OASIS Institute has received a $2.5 million grant – its largest ever – to fund a five-year plan to significantly grow its services to the nation’s dramatically expanding aging population. The grant is from The Atlantic Philanthropies of New York, a leader in initiatives to help vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.
It provides OASIS with the funding to:
Increase and diversify participation in current and new OASIS markets
Provide OASIS opportunities to more diverse and low-income populations
Share successful strategies with aging service providers
Build OASIS’ capacity and sustainability
“Older adults are a tremendous resource for our society,” said Marcia Kerz, president of The OASIS Institute. “As 76 million people approach retirement in the next decade, there will be unprecedented need for programs enabling them to continue as active, contributing members of society. This grant will enable us to reach more of these people and to offer them better programs.

“The need for innovative national organizations that work to help older adults live independently and serve as resources to their communities has never been more important,” said Brian Hofland, director of Atlantic’s Ageing Programme. “With its longstanding experience, creative programs, impressive national network and partnership relationships, OASIS brings unique strengths to address this need.”

Headquartered in St. Louis, The OASIS Institute has 25 years of experience providing lifelong learning and civic engagement opportunities to help mature adults lead vibrant, healthy, productive lives. Its programs address the intellectual, physical and social needs of adults age 50 and older.

This comprehensive approach was validated in the landmark $10 million MacArthur Foundation Study of Aging in America. Researchers John Rowe and Robert Kahn, authors of Successful Aging, found that the keys to preserving a high quality of life are maintaining a low risk for disease, a high level of engagement with one’s community and high physical and cognitive function, and “it is the combination of all three that represents the concept of successful aging fully.” Continuing research underscores the importance of all these elements:

Intellectual stimulation: Participating in classes activates parts of the brain that slow aging and increase memory and intellectual curiosity. A study of older adults in arts and cultural programs found powerful benefits, including heightened morale, increased social activity and a decrease in depression, doctor visits and medication use. OASIS offers a wide range of stimulating lifelong learning programs in the arts, humanities, science, technology and practical information.

Healthy lifestyles: Alarming trends in the health of older Americans could drive a cumulative deficit of $5.8 trillion in Medicare spending over the next 20 years. Two-thirds of older adults are sedentary, increasing their risks for disease and disability, and 80 percent of people over age 65 have a chronic health condition. OASIS’ evidence-based programs are proven to help people build skills and social support to make lasting lifestyle changes.

Civic engagement: People who are socially engaged are more likely to stay physically and mentally vital. A Florida State University study found that those who volunteer just two to three hours a week live happier, healthier lives. The social context is key. OASIS creates communities where people find support and encourage each other, and engages people in service through projects like the OASIS Intergenerational Tutoring program, which pairs adults with children in the primary grades to help them build reading skills and confidence.

The grant includes $2 million in outright funding for OASIS’ five-year business plan, and $500,000 in challenge funds to be matched by other new funding. OASIS worked with Root Cause, a non-profit strategy consulting firm, to develop the plan with an initial grant of $150,000 from the Atlantic Philanthropies in 2007.

“The Atlantic Philanthropies support will enable us to invest in strengthening our centers and building our knowledge and capacity. We are excited about all that we can accomplish to make a significant and enduring impact on a social issue that affects millions,” said Kerz.

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