What is your organization’s mission?

The mission of the Del Mar Encore Fellows Initiative is to engage older adults in addressing significant community issues, leveraging the skills and experience of retired professionals as Fellows, and changing the conversation around aging.

What are you most excited about regarding your organization’s programming this year? How will it shape your community or organization or both?

By the end of June, we will have completed an external evaluation of nearly five years of the Del Mar Encore Fellows Initiative in Dayton. During that time, more than a dozen Fellows were placed with area nonprofits. We believe that the 37,000 hours they have spent on big community issues has had a valuable impact (more than $2.6 million); and we’re excited to see the outcome and whether the evaluators believe this initiative is both sustainable and replicable elsewhere. The Fellows have worked on issues including literacy; racism; using technology to help low-income older adults access healthcare; increasing the education and credentials for early childhood teachers; addressing the shortage of personal care aides; building age-friendly communities; expanding access to anti-ageism curricula and creating a related podcast; and researching barriers to expansion for Black-led businesses. In addition to the work the Fellows do with their Host Organizations, they work as a cohort, to share their own experiences and resources and provide community presentations to challenge perceptions of aging. Last year, we expanded the number of Fellows to eight and this year, we are planning to hire seven, with assured funding through 2027. Five more years means thousands more hours and untold amounts of energy focused on making our community stronger!

What is one special aspect, element, or hidden “talent” that you want our members to know about your organization?

The 13 people who have served as Del Mar Encore Fellows are just the tip of the iceberg! There are thousands accomplished, professional older adults, freed from the demands of full-time employment in every community who want to give back to their communities in meaningful, flexible roles, paid or unpaid. Every city, town, and village has the capacity to address big community issues if you engage those who know it best and design ways to bring their wealth of talents to the table.