The following is a conversation between Trent Stamp, President & CEO of The Eisner Foundation, and Denver Frederick, the Host of The Business of Giving.

Denver: The Eisner Foundation was started in 1996 by Michael Eisner, then chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company and his wife, Jane, in order to focus their family’s philanthropic activities.

The foundation identifies, advocates for, and invests in high quality and innovative programs that unite multiple generations for the enrichment of communities. And here to tell us more about this work is Trent Stamp, the President and CEO of The Eisner Foundation.

Trent Stamp, President & CEO of The Eisner Foundation

Welcome to The Business of Giving, Trent.

Trent: It’s my absolute pleasure, Denver. Thank you so much for having me.

Denver: Well, thanks for coming on. Share with listeners more about the foundation’s mission and how it landed upon this niche of intergenerational connection.

Trent: Yeah. Everything we fund is intergenerational in focus. It doesn’t necessarily matter what societal ill you’re trying to combat, whether you’re trying to improve education in inner city schools, or clean up the environment, or advance women’s rights, or provide more high-quality music or arts or culture, or any of those types of things. We want you to be doing it with an intergenerational focus.

We want you to think that by bringing older and younger people together for the betterment of their community, leveraging each as resources, as assets. Not just seeing older people or younger people as recipients of philanthropy or generosity, but actually looking at them as leverage points, as resources to be harnessed, then that’s the kind of program we want to fund.

So it ends up with an awful lot of mentoring programs, tutoring programs, going both ways, of course. But also just a lot of shared sites, which are things like where you have a senior center, where you put a preschool inside it. Or you have a college where you put senior housing on the campus.

Any of those types of things where you find a way to work with older folks and younger folks for the betterment, not only of each other, but for the community as a whole.

“We think that these Sun City communities where older people said, ‘I only want to live with 65 plus,’ that works for a small fraction of people. But we found that in our surveys and our research and our evaluation, that most older people like to be around younger people. They like the vitality, they like the energy, they like the purpose. And so we’re just trying to find ways, philanthropically, that we can unite older folks and younger folks for the betterment of not only each other, but our community as a whole.”

Denver: Yeah. Proximity has such an impact. Why don’t you provide us with a little bit of a history lesson because at the beginning of the 20th century, we had a pretty highly age-integrated society, but certainly by the end of it, we were very age segregated. What happened?

Trent: Well, we divided our society primarily for efficiency. We used to educate the entire community in a one-room schoolhouse. But we decided, for safety reasons, for efficiency reasons, that we would get the older folks out of the classrooms. We decided that we should get older people out of the workforce at 65 by creating social security and mandatory retirement ages when we used to have a much more multi-generational workforce.

So we decided that there were a variety of reasons why we should take older people and put them in one place and take younger people and put them in another place. The exception being the home where we do see it primarily in the United States, in more ethnic communities.

But in the workplace, in the schools, in our community centers, we decided that the old and the young should be separated primarily for efficiency and so that we could focus on single solutions to that group. And we’re just trying to bring it back. We think that was a mistake in society.

We think that these Sun City communities where older people said, “I only want to live with 65 plus,” that works for a small fraction of people. But we found that in our surveys and our research and our evaluation, that most older people like to be around younger people. They like the vitality, they like the energy, they like the purpose.And so we’re just trying to find ways, philanthropically, that we can unite older folks and younger folks for the betterment of not only each other, but our community as a whole.

Denver: Yeah, it’s interesting how that separation happened because it’s just so parallel to the industrial age and the way we try to get work done. And efficiency was the name of the game. It was red and blue, and we just did things, and we were trying to save some time and productivity and everything else.

And obviously, we’re entering a new age now, but it’s interesting how they had a parallel path along those lines.

Trent: Yeah. I mean, efficiency, it just crushes a nation’s soul, right? I mean, there are arguments for it. Sure, I get it. I have to build a new Ford truck. I need it to be efficient. But if I’m trying to build a society, maybe efficiency is not what we should be aspiring to.

Denver: I’ll tell my wife next time she wants me to do something: Efficiency crushes one’s soul. That’s real.

Trent: Please. Please attribute it to me, too. And she’ll say, “Who the heck is that, Denver, and why do I care?”

Denver:Who’s this guy– Trent?” You know, we intuitively know that this connection between the generations is positive. What’s some of the data on that?

Trent: Well, the data is overwhelming. We find that when we are able to put kids and seniors together in a program with intentionality, it’s… I’m not just talking about a movie theater or a community center where we put older folks and younger folks next to each other and hope some sort of magic happens.

There has to be intentionality. There has to be a curriculum. There has to be sensitivity training on the front end. There has to be some expectations set. But when we find that organizations do that, a couple of different things happen.

For the older folks, they get a sense of purpose, and we all know the literature is overwhelming at this point. The correlation between purpose and healthy outcomes is off the charts.

Denver: Gets you up in the morning.

Trent: It gets you up in the morning. We find organizations where when they put seniors together with kids and whatever it is– mentoring, tutoring, coaching, advising, that kind of thing, if they build a high-quality program, those seniors get a sense of purpose, and that purpose translates directly to positive health outcomes, including lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, higher mobility. These things that are markers for long-term viability.

So we know that that happens. We also know that when kids are in a program with older adults, they develop more empathy. And my God, could we benefit in our society from a little more empathy? Especially with young people who are growing up, staring at screens and being priced out of many things in society and being told that their views are not necessary in today’s political system.

So if we can create a sense of empathy, we can create a sense of purpose. And these are measurable things. This isn’t some sort of nice, but it’s not necessary kind of pie-in-the-sky thing. We have organizations that are benchmarking these things. When you come into our program, your empathy level is x.When you leave after interacting with adults, your empathy level is x plus five, and same deal with purpose. 

So we’re getting organizations that are able to demonstrate that there are huge outcomes and benefits, not only to the two groups that are being served in these organizations, the older folks and the younger people, but for the community as a whole.

We have several organizations where by incorporating older, oftentimes more affluent, whiter volunteers into an organization that’s serving lower income kids primarily of color in the inner cities, the older folks when they leave are more likely to vote for school taxes because they see those kids, and they go, “Oh my God, if that kid just wasn’t brown, he’d be my grandchild.”

Because he’s just a kid. He’s just a kid who deserves an opportunity and an option and a benefit. And so they’re more likely to say, “I want to do what I can do outside of volunteering for this organization to create a better outcome for him.” So, we just think that intergenerational programming, no matter what you’re doing at the non-profit level, would benefit by being incorporated into your organization.

“The two groups in our society that are the most lonely are those who are over at the age of 75, and those who are teenagers. These are the most vulnerable populations. And in both groups, there are long-term deleterious health effects by being lonely.”

Denver: Yeah, and the extra plus of all this, as you allude to, between the elderly and the youth, they’re arguably the two most lonely cohorts in society right now. And we know what loneliness does to somebody. I think the Surgeon General said it was something like the equivalent of 15 cigarettes a day.

Trent: Yeah. And it’s not even arguable. The two groups in our society that are the most lonely are those who are over the age of 75, and those who are teenagers. These are the most vulnerable populations. And in both groups, there are long-term deleterious health effects by being lonely.

Forget the fact that it’s just malpractice as a society that we allow these two vulnerable groups to be lonely and to therefore have these health impacts, which are exactly right. I believe the exact number was 16 cigarettes a day. Smoking is the correlation between being lonely.

Denver: Wow.

Trent: And so if you think about that, if you knew a 75-year-old who was smoking 16 cigarettes a day, you’d tell them to stop tomorrow because you’d know that it was going to be horrible for their long-term health. But when they’re lonely, we go, “Oh, that’s too bad. That’s what happens to older folks because their friends have died and maybe their partner has moved on” and those types of things.

But it doesn’t have to be that way, we can fix it. These programs work, and if we can link up these two vulnerable populations– these two lonely populations– show them that they both have value, they both have purpose, and that they can help the other one, selfishly they’ll end up actually helping themselves by doing the work.

So we’re all in on intergenerational programs. I don’t want to sound like a total zealot, but we’ve seen at our end… We’ve seen in our work that it works, that it provides high quality outcomes for not only two vulnerable groups, but for our community as a whole.

Denver: You mentioned an elderly, very often white person, working with maybe historically marginalized communities, and you also talked about intentionality. Is there anything that needs to be done to prepare them to work with different populations and younger populations like that?

Trent: Yeah. Yeah. It doesn’t just automatically work. I don’t want to make this sound like if you were running an organization, and you just went and got three old folks sitting on a bus stop and brought them into your kindergarten and had them sit there, that all of a sudden your kindergarten would be transformed.

You have to have that intentionality, and you have to do a couple of different things. With the kids, oftentimes, we find that doing some anti-ageist work is something that on the front end will benefit what they’re trying to do. Convincing them that with some simple exercises, some simple curriculums that are out there, that older people have value and that they can bring something to the table.

And then for older people, and especially in these populations that you were just referring to, you have to do some cultural competency. The world has changed. And whether you like it or not, things like pronouns matter. Things like racial identification matter. And so you have to learn how to speak and more importantly, how to listen to young people when you’re being given the opportunity to do this type of work.

And so we’re lucky because we work primarily in Los Angeles and New York, and this is just ingrained in these organizations. You can’t serve lower income kids of color in Southern California without having a cultural competency agenda and curriculum built into what you’re trying to do because you just wouldn’t be successful without it.

So when people try to replicate our work in other communities, we just ask them to please pay attention to cultural competencies. Spend a little time on the front end because while we tend to believe that most folks, including most older folks, are really good at heart and really want to make the world a better place, some of them stumble over some of these things that they have just said: “Oh, well that’s just the way it is. I’m stuck in my ways.” But you can’t be stuck in your ways.

Denver: No.

Trent: If you want to provide positive outcomes for kids.

“So we’re here for the idea that advocating on behalf of kids doesn’t have to come at the expense of seniors. And we walk that talk by doing intergenerational programs.”

Denver: But as you said before too, a lot of these older people are somewhat isolated, and they just may not be up to date or informed about some of these changes. Not even being stubborn, they’re just not aware of them, and making them aware of them can be 80% of the battle.

Let me get your take on this. And I guess this would be having to do with the supposed coming conflict between the generations, young and old, in the battle for scarce resources. Speak to the perils as well as the promise that exist between the generations.

Trent: Well, I mean, I think first of all, it’s important to acknowledge how fractured and frayed our society is. Acting as if that’s not true is naive and maybe even malpractice. We’re frayed, but we have found that there is an opportunity among the young and the old that there may not be in some of the other divisions that we have in our societies.

If you can figure out how we’re going to bring together urban progressives and rural conservatives, I’m here for it, but it doesn’t seem to be working really well right this minute.

Denver: Not acceptably well.

Trent: We’ve got some racial issues. We’ve got some gender issues. We’ve got socioeconomic issues. We obviously have issues around sexual orientation, but when it comes to the young and the old, it is the only division where one group literally becomes the other one, if everything goes well, and where one group used to be the other one. And so it doesn’t seem to me like it’s as complicated to find a way to create a shared vision.

And I’m just not here for the zero-sum argument when it comes to philanthropy. This is the kind of nonsense that we couldn’t do women’s rights because it would come at the expense of men’s rights. We can’t lift up all races because it will be at the expense of one particular race. That’s not the vision that we want to adopt at The Eisner Foundation, and we really do believe that a rising tide lifts all boats.

Denver: Yep.

Trent: So we’re here for the idea that advocating on behalf of kids doesn’t have to come at the expense of seniors. And we walk that talk by doing intergenerational programs. If you are solely doing children’s programs and you say, “I can only fund this, and I can’t work with seniors because it would come at the expense of the kids,” our response would be: Try to find a way to incorporate both into your program.

It costs just as much, and hopefully you can create a benefit not only for the kids and for the seniors, but for your community as a whole. So I just don’t have any patience for the zero-sum argument because I just think we adopt it when it’s convenient, and we ignore it when we want to talk about things that we believe in.

Denver: Yeah. Yeah. That seems to be an epidemic, unfortunately, in almost every field these days.

You recently authored an article titled, “ Intergenerational Programs as a Tool to Advance Equity,” and we’ve touched on a little bit of it, but how can these programs address other forms of prejudice and bias? You know, racism, sexism, socioeconomic discrimination? Talk a little bit more about that because I really found that to be interesting.

Trent: Yeah. Well, I mean, it’s in effect using the commonalities that we find among the intergenerational work to tear down the other barriers, right? I mean, if we can get, as you used an example before, if we can get the older white folks to go into the lower income school in Southern California, we get them in there because they’re older, and we want them to help benefit younger people.

But the reality is, is that school is a hundred percent kids of color. So as long as they’re there, we can use the intergenerational program as, in effect, a Trojan horse to get you into the program to understand that the differences that we put in front of people, are flimsy, whatever, the… I mean, my article was for an academic journal, but let’s use my regular language…They’re phony. They don’t hold up. The differences in our society are based on perception, not based on reality. So we’re just trying to figure out ways to address the fact that we have so much more in common as a society than we have not in common.

Denver: Yeah. Looking at some of these intergenerational programs that you support, and we’ll get to a couple of those in a minute, I’d be curious as to what’s it going to take to scale these programs, the high-quality ones, to really create transformative systemic change.

Trent: Yeah, I mean, that’s the $64,000 question for us. And we are, as far as we know, the only foundation in the United States exclusively focused on intergenerational programming. There are other organizations that do this work and do it very well, but I think we’re the only ones who solely focus on this.

We would love to be priced out of that market. We would love for the Ford Foundation or Rockefeller to show up and say, We want to be the only… the people who do intergenerational programming because they have a larger corpus than we do. And we would happily yield the floor to one of these giant organizations.

If the Gates Foundation wants in, believe me, I will give them room to come in and take over. But I do think that there is room for optimism. I mean, we are seeing this type of thing. When I used to go to conferences that were focused on aging, I was the only person talking about intergenerational programming.

That’s not true anymore. Now there are a lot of people talking about intergenerational programming, and I think that the simple reason is… there’s two simple reasons. One being, there is a demographic change that we have seen that’s coming inelegantly called the Silver Tsunami.

That America is aging faster than ever. I believe, depending on who you’re talking to right now, we have more people over the age of 65 than we do under the age of 18 for the first time in American history. America is just older. And so we can either stick our heads in the ground and say, “Oh my God, this is going to destroy our society”– the zero-sum argument. “They’re going to take all our social security.”  Or we can figure out a way to harness and leverage those assets and resources and keep older folks working longer and participating in society longer and volunteering more and opening their homes to kids who can’t afford their houses right now as part of shared housing programs, and those types of things.

That’s one thing. And then the other thing that we found is these programs work. We all have limited budgets. We even, at The Eisner Foundation, we have a limited grant making budget, and we found that when we were able to fund a program that was intergenerational, we were able to, as foster grandparents say: It’s every dollar spent twice.

We were able to invest in two groups at the same time and create high quality outcomes, not only for the two of them, but for our communities as a whole. So, I do think that people are coming around to that. They’re looking at that, and they’re saying: We have historically funded senior centers, and there are two senior centers in our town. And senior center A is perfectly fine, but senior center B also has a preschool inside it. And as a result, senior center B is not only more efficient– the soul crusher that I talked about earlier– but it’s better. It’s more fun.

Denver: Mm-hmm. Right.

Trent: The older folks like to be there, they live longer. And so why not fund that one if I have a choice between the two? And then I still believe, despite the fact that I’ve worked in the non-profit sector for 30 years, I still believe in market forces. So when you build a better non-profit organization, one that’s more intergenerational and it works, I think other ones will come along.

So that’s part of what we’re trying to do, is to proselytize and sing the praises of good intergenerational programs. So the folks who listen to your podcast and others will say, Oh, I should look into that. And if they look into it, believe me, my phone rings, and I’m happy to talk about it.

Denver: Mm-hmm. Well, we do know Americans love value, and anytime you talk about two for one, you know you’re going to get everybody’s attention.

Trent: It’s a coupon. It’s a philanthropic coupon.

Denver: Absolutely. So let’s talk a little bit about the work at Eisner, and one of your major initiatives is the Eisner Prize for Intergenerational Excellence. Tell us about that.

Trent: Well, the Eisner Prize, which we launched 10 or 12 years ago, it was our opportunity to go beyond our geographic focus. We primarily only work in Los Angeles and New York City, and it was a way for us to honor and learn from other programs around the country and theoretically to replicate those programs in the communities in which we work– Los Angeles and New York City.

It was a rousing success. We honored some of the great intergenerational programs and leaders in this country, and we’re able to use the fact that we still have a pretty big name on the door of our foundation to shine a light on what some other people were doing, and to hopefully promote intergenerational programming.

But last year we pivoted, and we created what we call the Eisner Prize Fellows.

Denver: That’s right.

Trent: Which was kind of our attempt to identify new leaders and new ideas to keep the field moving forward. It just seemed to be kind of a natural thing. I’m getting older as a foundation CEO. Our board is unfortunately aging.

We’re all aging every day, and we wanted to find ways to make our foundation be intergenerational in the sense that: Let’s find the young people who are out there who are doing cool, intergenerational things. Let’s introduce them to our previous Eisner Prize laureates so they could learn from them.

They could learn from people like Marc Freedman at CoGenerate, or Donna Butts at Generations United, and they could be this next generation promoting this idea of intergenerational programming. So we’ve had the Eisner Prize and now we have the Eisner Prize Fellows, and it’s just kind of a natural evolution of our attempt to shine a light on those who are doing good work, bringing the generations together.

And it’s really the only thing that we do that’s not confined to one of our geographic focus areas, which are Los Angeles and New York. It’s looking around the entire country, if not the world, for who’s doing cool, intergenerational work and how do we tell people about it.

Denver: Mm-hmm. Well, give us an idea of some of that work that’s going on, whether it be an Eisner Prize winner, from a laureate, or whether it be one of these Fellows. What’s some of the cool stuff or the groundbreaking stuff that is happening in the field?

Trent: Yeah. I mean, our most recent Eisner Prize winner was an organization called ONEgeneration, which runs a senior day program for older folks who cannot be… it’s not safe for them to be alone in their homes during the day, and so they come to ONEgeneration for a meal and for some programming and those types of things, to be taken care of.

Oftentimes, they’re in the home when their children and their children have to work during the day, and they may not be able to afford to have full-time care in the home. So they go to a senior day facility, and that same senior day facility has a couple of preschool programs in it. So you literally get the opportunity to interact on a regular basis. And the outcomes for both the older folks and the kids are off the charts.

So that’s one of the organizations that we honored. Another one was an organization called Bridge Meadows up in Portland, Oregon, which is a housing program that takes lower income seniors and provides them with high-quality housing in a beautiful apartment complex with a beautiful courtyard and all those types of things. Kind of the nicest senior housing you’re ever going to see.

But also housed in that facility… which is an  inelegant term for a beautiful place to live, but in that complex are younger people who are in the process of adopting kids out of foster care. And so we got three vulnerable populations here. We got kids coming out of foster care. We got young parents who are willing to adopt these kids. We have lower income seniors.

And one part of the condition for living there as a lower income senior is that you provide x number of hours per week to help with those parents, with those kids, whether it be tutoring, after-school programming, driving them to their sports activities, cooking around the house, or whatever.

And it’s just a gorgeous experience where you see these three populations that we would like as a society to kind of dispose of, who are thriving and really helping each other and creating an awesome place that I would like to live at some point, if they’ll have me, in the years to come.

So it’s those types of programs that are really active in the community. Some of the young leaders that we’ve identified in this year… One is creating a blueprint for intergenerational housing at historically Black colleges and universities….intergenerational housing on those campuses.

Another one runs an intergenerational gardening program. Another one does a program that I was mildly skeptical of it, first part, till I saw it, which was providing, a pet fostering program for folks living in senior living communities, where they’re not oftentimes allowed to have a pet.

But because the younger people bring them in there, they foster, they work with them; you bring together young people and older folks in these senior living communities, and then you add animals, which I mean, everybody loves a cute puppy. But the more important work is bringing together these types of collaborations and trying to weave together some sort of social connectivity.

Denver: Yeah. Trent, where do you think we’re at on this continuum? I know how difficult this is to get this intergenerational idea communicated and having people pick up on it. Are you still in the really early innings, or are you beginning to sense a groundswell? I mean, how fast is this concept being adopted?

Trent: I think we’re somewhere between early innings and groundswell to mix geographical and sports analogies. I think five, 10 years ago when we started talking about this, at the funding side, we got a lot of raised eyebrows and people looking at us. Of course, there had been practitioners that have been doing it for a long time, and I want to be respectful of their great work.

But at the funding side, people were looking at us like: Whatever the heck you’re doing, have fun over there in your corner, but we’ll be over here in the real world. But with the combination, as I said before, of the demographic change and the fact that we as a society are just aging… which could be a good thing or it could be a bad thing.

And too many people in the media and the popular discourse want to treat it like a bad thing. We want to celebrate it and try to figure out ways to harness those resources. But a combination of that demographic change and the fact that some of these organizations really are showing some amazing impacts on the folks they serve, I think that the future is bright for intergenerational programming, and I think it’s getting ready to take off, and I’m excited about that.

“…I think that the number one skill… and I don’t want to just be a management cliche, but it’s listening. At our organization, it’s listening to my staff. And we, as an organization, it’s listening to our grantees and our potential grantees.

The days of top-down leadership, of : ‘I know what’s best and I’m going to tell you what you should do, both inside the organization and outside the organization,’ it’s long gone.”

Denver: Yeah, that is very exciting. You’ve been in your current chair for about 16 years now. Give us an idea of what your philosophy of leadership is, and how do you see the role of leaders evolving in the philanthropic world, let’s say over the next decade?

Trent: Yeah. I mean, I think that the number one skill… and I don’t want to just be a management cliche, but it’s listening. At our organization, it’s listening to my staff. And we, as an organization, it’s listening to our grantees and our potential grantees.

The days of top-down leadership,  of: “ I know what’s best and I’m going to tell you what you should do, both inside the organization and outside the organization,” it’s long gone. As the guy who gets the CEO title, I kind of lament the fact that it’s long gone because I would like to walk around the community and tell everybody what I think.

But no one wants to hear it, and I’m okay with that. So I think the most important thing that we can do is to shut up and listen to those who are doing the work, who are in the field, who are out there in the community, and then to actually do things with what you hear, as opposed to just saying, “I hear you. But I hear you and now, so what?”

So I’ve had to learn to… it’s ironic to say this on a podcast of course, where our job is to talk for a little while. But I’ve had to learn to shut my mouth and open my ears a lot more. And I think that it lends itself to our work because that’s what you want to do, right?

Philanthropically is: you want to hear what the community is telling you. And our community is telling us that the younger people and older people have value. And don’t discard us, and figure out a way to harness us and put us to work for the betterment of our community. And we’re going to do everything we can to respond to that.


“…going back to what I said about our grantees and the organizations that serve them, I like to think that I believe in the better side of human beings. And I think that the young people who are inheriting this wealth will want to contribute, will want to make the world a better place. They just may not do it in ways that historically we thought they were going to do it.

Denver: Along those same lines, where do you think the sector is going? I mean, what innovations or shifts do you think are going to be crucial as philanthropic leaders look ahead?

Trent: Yeah, I think we’re at an interesting point because on one hand, there is a generational wealth transfer, the likes of which we’ve never seen in the history of this country. But coming alongside it is a distrust of large institutions that we haven’t really seen in our society. I think that, going back to what I said about our grantees and the organizations that serve them, I like to think that I believe in the better side of human beings.

And I think that the young people who are inheriting this wealth will want to contribute, will want to make the world a better place. They just may not do it in ways that historically we thought they were going to do it. They may not dump it all into this community foundation or start that foundation. But that’s okay.

And again, we just have to adjust to the way that people want to do things. But I do think that we’re headed towards a new era where giving is going to look a whole lot different than it used to look. But I prefer to think that that’s okay, and we’re going to land on something that looks different, but maybe has high quality outcomes still.

Denver: Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right, and I think that’s really a great insight. We tend to think that philanthropy is not going to be touched like every other business is being touched.

Trent: Right.

Denver: Such as music or newspapers or whatever. And I think we panicked because we use the old metrics to say, Oh my gosh, less than 50% of people are giving to charity. But GoFundMe is off the charts, so they just… mutual aid societies, they’re doing it in a different way, but we’re still comparing it to the way… the old apples that we had.

Trent: Absolutely. Absolutely. And we’ve seen, and you know, it goes hand in hand with our work, and senior volunteering is up dramatically. A group that we used to think meant you could come in and lick some envelopes. But now we’re finding that these folks are able to mentor, to tutor, to be in classrooms, to serve as coaches, all those types of things.

And so this is a positive development for society because these folks have so much to offer, to our young people, young people who are vulnerable and at risk. And that’s something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. It just doesn’t look like what we thought volunteerism looked like a generation ago.

Denver: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s so significant that that number is up in a landscape where volunteering at large is down… so just to see the importance of seniors.

Let me close with this, Trent, many of our listeners are eager to contribute to meaningful causes. What opportunities do you recommend for individuals to get involved or support these intergenerational initiatives? Where would they start?

Trent: They can start with us. We are available at and there’s a link there to email us, and we would love to shine a light. Even though we primarily work in Los Angeles and New York City, we are really aware of the whole country and those that are doing good work.

So we are happy to hear from people who say, That sounded cool!  I would love to volunteer or fund an intergenerational program. So I would hope that they would come to us to start. But if that’s not a step that you’re going to do, or you live in a community where you’re just not positive that this is taking place or any of those types of things, I mean, I think you can start asking the question of the organizations that you support, you know?

If you support your kids’ school, ask them why they don’t have senior volunteers at the school. If you support your local senior center, ask them if maybe they’re not ready to put a preschool inside it; but are they ready to have a kindergarten class come and do an arts project with them?

If you work with your church or any of these types of things, ask them why they’re not more intergenerational because we have found that there is a whole cadre of seniors who would love to volunteer in these types of organizations, and we’ve found that there are a lot of youth serving organizations who would really benefit from having seniors in their organization.

Senior volunteers, we didn’t really touch on, but as a general rule, they’re better than younger volunteers. They have that kind of Been there, Done that factor in the sense that if a kid mouths off to them for the first time, which unfortunately happens in some of these programs, they don’t go running for the exits. They’ve seen it.

And I have kids that had to volunteer for their community service credits. There are no community service credits for a 72-year-old. They’re doing it because they want to be there. They’re doing it because they want to provide outcomes and opportunities for these kids. And they’re not going to cut and run when their six-week mandated set of time is up.

So we just think that every organization would benefit from asking at least the question of: Why don’t we have multiple generations on both the recipient and the service side for our organization? So I would hope that they would do that, and then I would hope they would call us because we would love to help.

Denver: Fantastic. And you’re right about senior volunteers. They are a reliable cohort. They really, really are. And I think you want to….

Trent: And they stay long. They stay much, much longer than the younger volunteers do. And every volunteer coordinator will tell you that that’s what they need, is continuity.

Denver: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I want to thank you so much for being here today, Trent. It was a real pleasure to have you on the program.

Trent: Denver, I can’t thank you enough, and I thank you for the good work you’re doing for the entire community. I really appreciate it.

Denver: I appreciate you. Thanks a lot.

Denver Frederick, Host of The Business of Giving serves as a Trusted Advisor and Executive Coach to Nonprofit Leaders. His Book, The Business of Giving: New Best Practices for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Leaders in an Uncertain World, is available now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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