Jim Firman is president and CEO of the National Council on Aging (NCOA). NCOA has developed nationally acclaimed programs to improve the health, independence, and economic security of older adults.
Aging Mastery®, a signature program of the National Council on Aging (NCOA), emphasizes that small steps have the potential to create big, positive, and lasting impacts. NCOA’s partnership with The Patterson Foundation (TPF) over the past several years has demonstrated the power of this formula.
The Aging Mastery Program® (AMP) is an education and behavior change program that helps older adults and boomers build their own playbook for aging well. TPF provided NCOA with essential enterprise-level support for this start-up social enterprise. Because of the foundation’s involvement, the program has grown exponentially. In 2013, AMP was in five communities; today, AMP is in 270 locations in 32 states. So far, more than 12,000 older adults have participated in AMP, and the program is now poised for exponential growth.
In addition to financial support, we’ve benefited greatly from TPF’s help in connecting to potential partners from its staff’s expertise in program development, communications, and business strategy as well as the willingness of its leadership to help us think through and address our most critical challenges.
Nationally, TPF has been the driving force of the AMP Philanthropy Network, a collaborative of funders convening to enhance their understanding of and investment in AMP. This network opened doors for collaboration, research initiatives, and product enhancement that would not have existed otherwise. TPF leaders stood by our side at many conferences, both advocating for the program and facilitating lively discussions with conference participants.
Locally, TPF supported the introduction of AMP into the first three locations in Florida, providing the spark from which we are now growing a statewide network in Florida. The TPF-funded projects were also the first in the country to demonstrate the feasibility and potential of private-pay strategies for growing and sustaining the program.
NCOA also benefited greatly from TPF’s understanding that big initiatives need more than just tactical planning and support to succeed. Personally, I cannot overstate the value to me and my team of knowing that there is a smart team of people at TPF who believe in us, embrace our goals and are always willing to listen, provide reactions and strategic advice.
I believe that this NCOA-TPF partnership is an important example of how non-profit organizations and foundations can collaborate to achieve extraordinary results. Through our partnership, both organizations have experienced the great joy and satisfaction that comes from taking a promising idea and growing it into a successful initiative that is transforming lives both in Florida and across the country.