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America's Best Intergenerational Communities


In 2012, Generations United in cooperation with the Met Life Foundation awarded their first Best Intergenerational Communities Award. This award recognizes communities that provide health and safety for people of all ages, promotes initiatives that increase cooperation between generations, and enables residents to contribute to the community using their unique talents or skills. Applications were accepted from across the U.S. and a panel chose five award recipients. Community planners and local leaders can learn more about best practices by examining which recipients and projects, policies and initiatives have received national recognition.

Key Points

"An intergenerational community is not just one where multiple generations reside. It is one where individuals of all ages are an integral and valued part of the setting" (page 5). Award recipients for 2012 include: Georgetown (TX), Lamoni (IA), Oberlin (OH), San Diego County (CA), and Virginia Planning District 10 (VA).

Other report highlights include:

  1. Georgetown: A city of 47,000 residents, Georgetown integrates intergenerational planning into city planning. No single entity plans intergenerational activities, but efforts are coordinated by several community organizations and departments. They predominantly use an “Asset Based Community Development” model connecting seniors and youth. In addition, educational institutions are engaged. The Georgetown Independent School District (GISD) champions intergenerational activities and programs and the Georgetown Senior University program has 600 participants.
  2. San Diego County: With a total population of over 3 million, San Diego County has poured millions of dollars into intergenerational programs. That investment is paying big dividends. Today there are a wide variety of services and programs designed to promote intergenerational interaction including: art, math, reading, jazz, mentoring future workers, future caregiver programs, etc.
  3. Virginia Planning District 10: Including 237,000+ residents near the area of Charlottesville, Virginia previously had many independent age-friendly programs but with no cohesion. That changed when the Jefferson Area Board for Aging (JABA) took the lead. Today, the district is a national model of how different generations can connect, learn from, and work together through a variety of organizations, projects, and programs. There are community gardens, school programs, and all eight of JABA’s “have active intergenerational programs”. The toolkit they developed for creating age-friendly communities is now being used by 13 other states (page 15).

How to Use

Knowing what is awarded and celebrated as best practices for creating intergenerational communities helps planners and community leaders implement local changes. These changes can happen on a city, county or regional level. Knowing which practices to emulate, in order to establish effective planning strategies, is key. By building on the efforts of others, new solutions in age ready planning can be developed.

View the full report: America's Best Intergenerational Communities 2012 (PDF – 788 KB)

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