Encore.org gatherings drive our movement forward. In 2016, we laid the foundation for today’s Encore Network membership and leadership team, and launched the Gen2Gen campaign (then named Encores for Youth). Encore 2018 was equally powerful, connecting 225 leaders, recognizing Encore Prize finalists building opportunities for older adults to support young people and kicking off a discussion of “new power” generated by open, participatory energy.

Of course, 225 summit attendees are only a small fraction of encore movement participants.This article shares highlights from our summit discussions and 2019 plans to add value for leaders across the encore community.

Conference highlights (all photo credits: Smith Patrick)

CEO Jo Ann Jenkins

AARP: a partner on our journey – AARP and Encore.org share a view of later life as a time of opportunity, and older adults as a resource; they were the lead summit sponsor. We’re collaborating in several areas: Encore Fellowships at AARP’s DC headquarters and state chapters, the AARP Purpose Prize and Experience Corps (both created by Encore.org). CEO Jo Ann Jenkins reflected on AARP’s 60 years of social impact and issued a call to think differently about longer lives and the value of older adults. 


2018 Encore Prize finalists and friends

The Gen2Gen Encore Prize – five finalists made powerful pitches to the summit audience, the culmination of a six month process involving 110 applicants, 24 semi-finalists, 16 judges, 10,037 voters, and funding from the John Templeton Foundation and the MetLife Foundation,.

For its groundbreaking work tapping the talents of people over 50 to help young people thrive in foster care, Colorado Springs-based Fostering Hope won the Judge’s Prize and $50,000. With the help of older volunteers “who stick with the kids” and show a “quiet endurance,” Fostering Hope has seen impressive results for the young people they work with, said Angela Carron, the group’s executive director: higher high school graduation rates, higher rates of adoption, and dramatically lower rates of homelessness after aging out of foster care. “I’m surprised by the return on investment of unconditional love,” Carron said.

Read to Me International’s Haku Mo’olelo program, which engages older volunteers in Honolulu to help incarcerated women write, illustrate and publish stories for their children, won the Audience Prize and $20,000. 

Lois Kim from Read to Me International

Lois Kim offered her story as proof of the program’s impact. “I was homeless, selfish and hopeless,” she said, and spent time behind bars. “Today,” she said, her voice breaking, “I am a proud mother deeply involved in my child’s life. I’m a published author. I’m clean and sober and self-sufficient.” The program’s older volunteers “referred to us by name,” Kim said, “and treated us like family. The high quality art supplies they brought gave us immense pride in our artwork. I felt human again, hopeful. Through the book I created, I was able to offer my apology to my deceased mother and to my daughter. I got my ‘happily ever after.’”

Three other organizations were awarded $10,000 each: Common Unity pairs high school students in Topeka, Kansas with older mentors to help them prepare for life after high school; Nuns & Nonesconnects Sisters and spiritually diverse millennials to build a more just world and Seeing-i2i.com creates intergenerational bonds and job opportunities by engaging teens to tutor older adults in nonviolent E-sports, like NBA2k.

Eisner Foundation CEO Trent Stamp and Marc Freedman, Eisner Prize dinner

Eisner Prize – The Eisner Foundation honored Marc Freedman and Encore.org with its 6th Intergenerational Excellence prize. Founder Michael Eisner commented: “Marc Freedman and Encore.org, with their dynamic view of life after 50, have certainly changed the way many older adults engage with their communities.”

Previous honorees include Encore.org friends Nancy Henkin and the Temple University Intergenerational Center, DOROT, Generations United, Bridge Meadows and Experience Corps, a nationwide program that originated at Encore.org.


“Hot Topics” – summit attendees shared expertise and learned from each other in breakout sessions on mission-critical topics:

  • Diversity, inclusion and equity – this handout provides eight practices to strengthen our work, and links to other resources. Thanks to facilitators Corita Brown, Demarra Gardner, Karimah Nonyameko and Jimmie Briggs.
  • Funding and sustainability – this popular session explored funding sources other than foundations, partnerships and collaboration and building fundraising capacity. Read notes here; we’ll offer a mid-year fundraising webinar. Thanks to facilitators Catalan Conlon and Rik Kranenburg.
  • Messaging including Reframing Aging – check out resources including Changing the Narrative Colorado’s White Paper on age-friendly and integrated workplaces; a short overview of Reframing Aging ‘s key ideas and a “review your own communications” checklist. Changing the Narrative Colorado lead Janine Vanderburg will lead a Network workshop on Reframing Aging on February 26 – register here.
  • City and county governments as partners in advancing encore and intergenerational programs – speakers shared success stories from San Jose, Boston and Cincinnati:
    • San Jose, California’s third largest city and 2017 Encore Prize Judges Choice winner, has made significant investments in Encore Fellows and recruiting encore talent for youth-serving programs including $300K in funding new fellowship models starting in 2019 . City leaders will issue a mid-2019 encore blueprint, getting the word out through the Cities of Service program, Chief Service Officers and the National League of Cities. Contact Chief Service Officer Nick Almeida here.
    • Cincinnati mayor John Cranley embraced a volunteerism-promotion program after learning that the city had declining volunteerism compared to peer locations. In support, Craig Young, Cincinnati-born founder of volunteer clearinghouse Inspiring Service, built a technology platform that enables volunteering and highlights high priority programs including Generation to Generation Cincinnati. Contact Craig here.
    • Encore Boston Network is partnering with the city, the Massachusetts Council on Aging and the United Way to create new “Discovery Centers” for older adults. Contact Encore Boston Network chair Doug Dickson here

The big picture: Enjoy reading Helen Dennis’s summit overview, Searching for Ideas to Bring Generations Together and Improve the Future.” Helen’s weekly Successful Aging column, now in its 17th year, reaches more than 1.5 million Southern California readers. 

Published: December 4, 2018