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The Encore Prize Generation to Generation Challenge: How Older Adults Can Help Youth Thrive

A Conversation with Marc Freedman, CEO of Encore.org

What inspired the Generation to Generation campaign? Walk us through how this idea to engage adults over 50 years old to help young people came into being.

Generation to Generation is powered by Encore.org, an organization I founded 20 years ago to transform the aging of America – one of the most significant demographic shifts of the 21st century – into a powerful source of individual and social renewal.


After creating several successful programs – for example, Experience Corps, The Purpose Prize, and the Encore Fellowships Network – we realized we could make the most headway by going bold and asking our growing community of experienced adults to show up in a big way for young people who need more caring adults in their lives.

With Gen2Gen, we’re working to build a movement of people who are eager to use their talent, experience and longer lives to create a better future for future generations.

How does the campaign work?

With Gen2Gen, we try to make it easier for people over 50 to engage in the lives of young people growing up in challenging circumstances – whether that’s through paid work or volunteer service, signing a pledge or getting your mayor to sign one, donating books or food or time. The benefits of these intergenerational relationships go both ways.

We have more than 100 youth-serving partner organizations, all of which are eager for help. We have a technology partnership with VolunteerMatch that makes it easy for individuals to enter their zip code and search for youth-serving work and encore-friendly volunteer positions in their community. We also promote “Do it Yourself” (DIY) ideas and use social media and our weekly campaign emails to share lots of other ways people can get involved and feel part of the solution.

While we focus primarily on reaching more adults over 50, the campaign welcomes people of all ages – especially if they’re passionate about the power of intergenerational relationships. So we’re hoping your readers join – and get their parents and grandparents to join, too!

What is The Encore Prize: Generation to Generation Challenge?

We’ve been looking for the most innovative, exciting and scalable ideas for engaging more older adults in the lives of kids. So much money and energy is going into extending life, but very little funding and attention have been focused on how to live those extra years, how to continue to find purpose and contribute as long as we can. We’re trying to change that.

We recently announced 15 semi-finalists for The Encore Prize, a competition among innovators of all ages. Each semi-finalist has a big Gen2Gen idea for using the talent of people over 50 to help youth thrive. In September we'll select five finalists who will go on to compete for two $50,000 awards.

How can our readers get involved?

We know many of your readers are interested in innovation, and have parents or grandparents that would be perfect for the Gen2Gen campaign. They can "take the pledge" to receive campaign updates here, and they can share this article with anyone in their life they think might be interested in getting involved!

Any final words of wisdom, or tweet-worthy quotes?

The goal of later life isn’t trying to stay young; it’s to be there for those who actually are.

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