Intergenerational Programs Build Connections, Fill Critical Needs

woman and children of different ages cook together as part of intergenerational programs

Stronger Together: Seniors & Young People Get Off The Sidelines and Into The Game

There’s a national movement to bring older adults, kids and teens together to solve problems and meet mutual needs through intergenerational programs.
Intergenerational programs have come a long way from the annual grandparent-grandchild teas of past years. Today, groups ranging from neighborhood teams to national organizations such as AARP are coming together to match needs with solutions, from housing to literacy to mentoring and the arts.
These programs bring together two demographic groups often portrayed as having nothing in common. Older adults can often be portrayed as technology challenged, out of step, with little to offer. Young people, on the other hand, are said to be disengaged and glued to screens.
Organizations such as, Generations United and the AARP Foundation Experience Corps are proving these stereotypes wrong.

Powerful Impact of Intergenerational Programs on Older Adults and Young People calls it cogeneration, and through their Gen2Gen program ( and other initiatives, they are working to bring the older and younger generations together to bridge divides and help solve problems. The group recently commissioned a survey of more than 1500 respondents from 18 to 90, and is compiling actionable information on issues of common interest, obstacles, and shared priorities.

Examples of Intergenerational Programs

Generations United ( supports a program in Bucks County, Pennsylvania called SAGE – Senior Adults for Greater Education. The program matches seniors with meaningful volunteer opportunities in their local school districts.  Volunteers support their schools with activities ranging from assisting at science fairs to reading tutoring to helping with an intergenerational spelling bee. They also help in things as diverse as shop class, school field trips, and backstage at drama productions. 

The SAGE program’s mission is to unite youth and seniors in their quest to enrich education and leave a legacy for future generations.

At the AARP, the AARP Foundation’s Experience Corps, ( provides an intergenerational volunteer-based tutoring program that is proven to help children who aren’t reading at grade level become great readers by the end of third grade.

The Experience Corps model is a proven intervention with measurable benefits for students, as well as positive mental and physical health benefits for volunteers who participate. By helping young students become better readers, Experience Corps seeks to ensure a lasting legacy of strong futures, supported schools and empowered volunteers. 

Experience Corps “inspires and empowers adults 50 and older to serve in their community and disrupt the cycle of poverty by making a lasting difference in the lives of America’s most vulnerable children.”

The Benefits of Intergenerational Programs

Intergenerational programs bridge gaps, foster friendships, and provide opportunities for learning, growth, and development. These programs can have a profound impact on the lives of those who participate and can help build stronger families and communities.
Today, many children don’t have a grandparent close by, or live in single parent families. These programs enable older people to mentor and pass their knowledge on to the next generation, helping children and young people develop important skills.
Through intergenerational programs, young people learn from the knowledge and experience of older adults, and older adults get a glimpse of what motivates and impassions young people. Intergenerational activities help seniors stay active, give kids the opportunity to learn new skills, and allow people of different generations to bond. And working together gives both generations a change to have fun and make a difference in their communities.

People who might otherwise not connect

Intergenerational programs create friendships and understanding between people who might not otherwise connect. The most important outcome? Older and younger generations feel more connected to each other, and thus more valued and respected.