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.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has set a social impact goal of improving the health and well-being of 10 million older adults by 2020. It is a daunting, difficult, and exhilarating goal, but having The Patterson Foundation (TPF) as a partner makes it easier to take on this exciting challenge.
For the past five years, TPF has helped NCOA impact the lives of older adults by working with us to bring evidence-based health and wellness programs to scale nationwide. For two years, TPF helped support a national initiative—the Self-Management Alliance—bringing together federal agencies, foundations, and companies to develop strategies for scaling evidence-based self-management programs. For the past three years, TPF has collaborated with NCOA to bring to scale the Aging Mastery Program® (AMP), an education program designed to help older adults and boomers build their own playbook for aging well. It is provided through community organizations nationwide. In 2012, AMP was in five communities; today AMP is in 160 locations in 21 states and by 2020, we expect AMP to be in more than 1,500 locations.
How has The Patterson Foundation helped NCOA? Let me count the ways:
- Enterprise-level general support. Given the restricted nature and/or place-based focus of most foundations in the aging space, the annual general support grants of $50K have been especially helpful and appreciated. General support not only provides us capital to do what most needs doing, but it also makes it possible for NCOA to accept other foundation grants that may not pay full costs.
- TPF leaders were actively engaged in public-private meetings to develop strategies for scaling evidence-based self-management programs. Over the past two years, TPF has also worked with us to create and convene the AMP Philanthropy Network – a collaborative of 18 private and public funders who are supporting the growth of AMP nationwide. Through the AMP Philanthropy Network, each funder is able to discover investment opportunities in local projects of national significance.
- The leaders of TPF are connectors who are never content with having just made a financial investment in NCOA or AMP. They continue to work on our behalf and suggest like-minded people and organizations with whom we can explore opportunities for collaboration.
- Strategic advice and psychological support. Tackling big, ambitious initiatives can be daunting and sometimes lonely. I cannot overstate the importance 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.
As a former grantmaker (I worked for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation many years ago), I have come to appreciate how each foundation has the opportunity and latitude to develop its own approach for doing good. To my knowledge, TPF is unique in its approach to helping nonprofits achieve ambitious goals. It is rooted in the recognition that combining enterprise-level financial support with other forms of support can be a particularly powerful way to achieve social impact.
Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.
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