A New Story About Later Life: The Atlantic Philanthropies’ Effort to Expand Civic Engagement Among Older Americans
Resource type: Research Report
Tony Proscio, Duke Sanford School of Public Policy |
A nearly decade-long effort by The Atlantic Philanthropies to promote Civic Engagement of Older Adults — a new field dedicated to developing programmes and policies to provide greater opportunities to work, learn and volunteer after age 60 — yielded six broad lessons, according to this report.
The $120 million initiative was prompted by a stark contrast: older adults in the United States are a prime source of experience and energy for solving social problems, yet opportunities for them to use their skills decrease significantly in later life. Atlantic’s initiative, which took place from 2001-2010, aimed to remove obstacles to a more satisfying life in the later years while mining an untapped supply of talent and energy.
Reviewing Atlantic’s experience in the initiative, author Tony Proscio detailed the following lessons:
(1) Atlantic’s idea of “civic engagement” was defined broadly — encompassing not only community service, but also ordinary employment, education, and skills training later in life. This proved to be both a strength and a weakness.
(2) The initiative achieved many important and, in some cases, remarkable accomplishments including building credibility for the field, inserting civic engagement provisions into the Older Americans Act and helping 30 community foundations create or expand ageing programs
(3) The fundamental ideas of the civic engagement agenda are now part of the national discussion on ageing
(4) While civic engagement has strong leaders, the field needs additional national leadership to continue its progress
(5) There are significant obstacles, including Atlantic’s abrupt departure in 2010, to evolving the field further
(6) The weak economy may call for a fundamentally new approach by those who lead the field, with increased emphasis on opportunities for which people can be paid.
The Work in Action
Encore Careers – Passion, Purpose and a Paycheck
Older Adults Leading Community Change
Meeting Society’s Greatest Challenges with Experience
Next Avenue: A Website for the Booming 50+ Population
Download the Report
Report: A New Story About Later Life (PDF)
Atlantic commissioned this report.