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Beyond Passing the Torch: Recommendations on Leveraging Age Diversity to Build a Stronger Democracy Now

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<str<strong>on</strong>g>Bey<strong>on</strong>d</str<strong>on</strong>g> <str<strong>on</strong>g>Passing</str<strong>on</strong>g> <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> <str<strong>on</strong>g>Torch</str<strong>on</strong>g>:<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Recommendati<strong>on</strong>s</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>Leveraging</strong><br />

<strong>Age</strong> <strong>Diversity</strong> <strong>to</strong> <strong>Build</strong> a Str<strong>on</strong>ger<br />

<strong>Democracy</strong> <strong>Now</strong><br />

Written by:<br />

Dairanys Grull<strong>on</strong>-Virgil<br />

Associate Direc<strong>to</strong>r, Alumni and Youth Voice<br />

Generati<strong>on</strong> Citizen<br />

Sydelle Barre<strong>to</strong><br />

Nati<strong>on</strong>al Civic Engagement Research Fellow<br />

Generati<strong>on</strong> Citizen<br />

Published in partnership with:<br />

Generati<strong>on</strong> Citizen<br />

CoGenerate<br />

Millennial Acti<strong>on</strong> Project


TABLE OF CONTENTS<br />

3<br />

4<br />

5<br />

8<br />

11<br />

12<br />

13<br />

14<br />

15<br />

19<br />

23<br />

Foreword<br />

About Us<br />

Introducti<strong>on</strong><br />

Research<br />

Research Findings<br />

Key Values <strong>to</strong> Foster Cross-Generati<strong>on</strong>al Collaborati<strong>on</strong> and Civic Leadership<br />

Strategies <strong>to</strong> Engage Groups Across all Stages of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> Civic Cycle<br />

Leverage Partnerships and Coaliti<strong>on</strong>s<br />

Foster Cross-Generati<strong>on</strong>al Work<br />

Invest in Civic Leadership Skill-<strong>Build</strong>ing and Highlight its Benefits<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Recommendati<strong>on</strong>s</str<strong>on</strong>g>


FOREWORD<br />

3<br />

We're living in <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> most age-diverse society in human his<strong>to</strong>ry<br />

and, simultaneously, <strong>on</strong>e of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> most age-segregated.<br />

As a nati<strong>on</strong>, we are missing out <strong>on</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> complementary<br />

skills and talents people of all ages can bring <strong>to</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

table – and <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> power and energy that can be<br />

harnessed across generati<strong>on</strong>s <strong>to</strong> create a more just,<br />

participa<strong>to</strong>ry, and inclusive democracy.<br />

Our three organizati<strong>on</strong>s, Generati<strong>on</strong> Citizen, Millennial<br />

Acti<strong>on</strong> Project, and CoGenerate (formerly<br />

Encore.org) each represent a different stage in <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

civic life cycle. Toge<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r, we are a microcosm of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

broader civic engagement field. Each of us has expertise<br />

in working with specific age-cohorts committed<br />

<strong>to</strong> building a str<strong>on</strong>ger democracy. Each of us is<br />

deeply c<strong>on</strong>cerned about <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> ways in which <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

voices we represent are regularly left out of decisi<strong>on</strong>-making.<br />

As members of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> New Pluralists, a funder collaborative<br />

working <strong>to</strong> foster a culture of pluralism in<br />

America, we are eager <strong>to</strong> share and apply generati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

learnings across our organizati<strong>on</strong>s. We’re also<br />

eager <strong>to</strong> find answers <strong>to</strong> questi<strong>on</strong>s like <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>se:<br />

How can we better map and understand<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> different civic <strong>to</strong>uchpoints individuals<br />

might experience as <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>y age?<br />

When and how might we regularly engage<br />

civic leaders in cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

exchange and collective acti<strong>on</strong>?<br />

What are c<strong>on</strong>crete ways <strong>to</strong> leverage each<br />

generati<strong>on</strong>’s unique civic attributes <strong>to</strong> help<br />

build a str<strong>on</strong>ger democracy?<br />

Could more inclusive networks of young<br />

civic leaders and older civic leaders work<br />

ing <strong>to</strong>ge<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r help us find more comm<strong>on</strong><br />

ground as a nati<strong>on</strong>?<br />

In <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> fall of 2022, we engaged 25 civic organizati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

across <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> country in a landscape analysis <strong>to</strong> begin <strong>to</strong><br />

seek answers. Our goal was <strong>to</strong> identify emerging<br />

trends, shared values, and strategies that work <strong>to</strong><br />

engage groups across all stages of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> civic life cycle.<br />

We were heartened <strong>to</strong> unearth a number of promising,<br />

replicable practices for engaging diverse groups<br />

of individuals in civic and leadership opportunities.<br />

The report below outlines what we learned and<br />

provides a holistic view of how cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

civic engagement is already happening, both intenti<strong>on</strong>ally<br />

and unintenti<strong>on</strong>ally. It also outlines where<br />

more efforts are needed and includes a number of<br />

case studies we hope will spark new thinking <strong>on</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

importance of investing in age-diversity and a culture<br />

of collaborati<strong>on</strong> across generati<strong>on</strong>s. <strong>Build</strong>ing a<br />

str<strong>on</strong>g democracy requires a l<strong>on</strong>g view – and<br />

every<strong>on</strong>e at <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> table. No <strong>on</strong>e generati<strong>on</strong> can do it<br />

al<strong>on</strong>e.<br />

We hope <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> less<strong>on</strong>s learned through this collaborative<br />

research effort can point <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> way <strong>to</strong>wards a more<br />

united future – <strong>on</strong>e that elevates <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> perspectives of<br />

younger and older people and promotes <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al bridging, visi<strong>on</strong>ing, and healing so<br />

deeply needed <strong>to</strong>day.<br />

In generati<strong>on</strong>al solidarity,<br />

Elizabeth Clay Roy<br />

CEO, Generati<strong>on</strong> Citizen<br />

Eunice Lin Nichols<br />

Co-CEO, CoGenerate (formerly Encore.org)<br />

Layla Zaidane<br />

President and CEO, Millennial Acti<strong>on</strong> Project


ABOUT US<br />

4<br />

Generati<strong>on</strong> Citizen (GC) delivers high-quality,<br />

experiential civics educati<strong>on</strong> <strong>to</strong> students in grades<br />

6-12 across <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> country <strong>to</strong> build a world in which<br />

young people are at <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> forefr<strong>on</strong>t of creating a<br />

more just, participa<strong>to</strong>ry and inclusive democracy<br />

with greater equity in representati<strong>on</strong> and<br />

outcomes. https://www.generati<strong>on</strong>citizen.org<br />

The Millennial Acti<strong>on</strong> Project (MAP) is <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> largest<br />

cross-partisan network of young lawmakers in <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

United States. MAP works with over 1,600 Millennial<br />

and Gen Z elected leaders in C<strong>on</strong>gress and<br />

state legislatures <strong>to</strong> bridge divides, collaborate <strong>on</strong><br />

future-oriented policy, and scale a healthy culture<br />

of democracy. https://www.millennialacti<strong>on</strong>.org<br />

CoGenerate brings older and younger changemakers<br />

<strong>to</strong>ge<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r <strong>to</strong> solve problems, bridge divides,<br />

and co-create <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> future. The organizati<strong>on</strong>’s fellowship<br />

programs help innova<strong>to</strong>rs, thought leaders<br />

and activists leverage cogenerati<strong>on</strong>al strategies <strong>to</strong><br />

advance <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir initiatives. https://cogenerate.org


INTRODUCTION<br />

5<br />

The United States is currently experiencing an unprecedented<br />

demographic shift: we are <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> most age-diverse society in<br />

human his<strong>to</strong>ry.<br />

According <strong>to</strong> a report from Stanford Center <strong>on</strong><br />

L<strong>on</strong>gevity, “We now have relatively equal numbers<br />

of people of every age from birth <strong>to</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> 70s…<br />

As people live l<strong>on</strong>ger and l<strong>on</strong>ger, <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> amount of<br />

chr<strong>on</strong>ological age diversity present in our society<br />

will just c<strong>on</strong>tinue <strong>to</strong> grow.” ¹ This level of diversity<br />

brings both <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> challenge and opportunity of<br />

working <strong>to</strong>ge<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r across generati<strong>on</strong>s. This is most<br />

evident and most critical in <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> area of civic<br />

engagement and civic leadership.<br />

<strong>Age</strong> is similar <strong>to</strong> race or gender insofar as it functi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

as a "status characteristic" that determines<br />

<strong>on</strong>e’s positi<strong>on</strong> relative <strong>to</strong> o<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>rs. ² This age structuring<br />

is why cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al relati<strong>on</strong>ships can<br />

be so beneficial. By interacting with and learning<br />

from people in different social positi<strong>on</strong>s, we are<br />

able <strong>to</strong> bridge divides, develop empathy, and see<br />

things from different perspectives. However, <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

age structuring of society also causes barriers <strong>to</strong><br />

cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al relati<strong>on</strong>ships, such as stereotypes,<br />

discriminati<strong>on</strong>, and segregati<strong>on</strong>. ³<br />

Benefits of Intergenerati<strong>on</strong>al Relati<strong>on</strong>ships<br />

Several studies dem<strong>on</strong>strate <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> benefits of intergenerati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

relati<strong>on</strong>ships.<br />

Young people who have a meaningful relati<strong>on</strong>ship<br />

with a n<strong>on</strong>-parental adult are<br />

more likely <strong>to</strong>:<br />

Improve academic outcomes<br />

Display less risky “problem” behaviors<br />

Be more independent<br />

Have fewer depressive symp<strong>to</strong>ms than<br />

those without<br />

Source: DuBois & Silverthorn, 2005; Greenberger, Chen, & Beam, 1998;<br />

Kogan & Brody, 2010.<br />

The Harvard Study of Adult Development found<br />

that people in middle age and bey<strong>on</strong>d who<br />

engaged in caring for and developing younger<br />

generati<strong>on</strong>s were three times as likely <strong>to</strong> be<br />

happy as those who did not engage in those<br />

practices. ⁴<br />

Potential Barriers of Intergenerati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

Relati<strong>on</strong>ships <strong>on</strong> Civic Collaborati<strong>on</strong><br />

While <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>re are significant benefits <strong>to</strong> intergenerati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

relati<strong>on</strong>ships, <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>re are also potential<br />

barriers that an effective cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al, civic<br />

collaborati<strong>on</strong> program must address.<br />

Intergenerati<strong>on</strong>al relati<strong>on</strong>ships may cause<br />

harm <strong>to</strong> young people when adults reject<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir identities or interests.<br />

Within community programs, older volunteers<br />

(who in many cases are high-income<br />

individuals) may struggle <strong>to</strong> understand<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> experiences of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> youth <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>y work<br />

with (who may be youth from low-income<br />

families), potentially undermining<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> value of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> relati<strong>on</strong>ship in <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> first<br />

place. ⁵


INTRODUCTION 6<br />

Intergenerati<strong>on</strong>al Practice<br />

Studies also show what c<strong>on</strong>stitutes successful<br />

intergenerati<strong>on</strong>al practice.<br />

Intergenerati<strong>on</strong>al practice can be defined as<br />

“activities or programs that increase cooperati<strong>on</strong>,<br />

interacti<strong>on</strong>, and exchange between people from<br />

any two generati<strong>on</strong>s.” ⁶<br />

These programs are intended <strong>to</strong> not <strong>on</strong>ly benefit<br />

participating parties, but also benefit <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> community<br />

around <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>m. ⁷<br />

Research shows that <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>se programs<br />

should be:<br />

Intenti<strong>on</strong>al, reciprocal, sustained, and<br />

asset or strengths-based;<br />

Provide training for younger and older<br />

stake holders <strong>to</strong> prepare <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>m for<br />

participati<strong>on</strong>;<br />

Involve <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> targeted age groups in <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

planning and use <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> strengths of <strong>on</strong>e<br />

generati<strong>on</strong> <strong>to</strong> meet <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> needs of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

o<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r. ⁸<br />

Intergenerati<strong>on</strong>al practice, or cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

collaborati<strong>on</strong>, has significant implicati<strong>on</strong>s for <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

civic learning and leadership space.<br />

The Brennan Center identified “civic intergenerati<strong>on</strong>ality”<br />

as a way <strong>to</strong> address America’s<br />

current civics crisis. This is “an approach <strong>to</strong><br />

civic learning grounded in coming <strong>to</strong>ge<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r<br />

across <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> life span <strong>to</strong> create a social and<br />

political reality that supports people of all<br />

ages. It operates under <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> assumpti<strong>on</strong> that all<br />

people are assets <strong>to</strong> our community, are<br />

capable of civic learning, and would benefit<br />

from it.”<br />

Civic intergenerati<strong>on</strong>ality not <strong>on</strong>ly supports an<br />

approach <strong>to</strong> cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al collaborati<strong>on</strong><br />

that is asset-based but it also has been shown<br />

<strong>to</strong> promote “a feeling of resp<strong>on</strong>sibility <strong>to</strong>ward<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> well-being of future generati<strong>on</strong>s.”<br />

⁹<br />

According <strong>to</strong> research by NORC at University<br />

of Chicago: “a sizable segment of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> younger<br />

and older populati<strong>on</strong>s is hungry for opportunities<br />

not <strong>on</strong>ly for intergenerati<strong>on</strong>al c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong>,<br />

but cogenerati<strong>on</strong>al acti<strong>on</strong> — <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> chance<br />

<strong>to</strong> join forces in co-creating a better future.”<br />

But despite str<strong>on</strong>g interest, every generati<strong>on</strong><br />

cited lack of opportunities <strong>to</strong> work with<br />

people of o<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r generati<strong>on</strong>s as a <strong>to</strong>p obstacle.<br />

Meanwhile, many organizati<strong>on</strong>s that help<br />

foster cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al collaborati<strong>on</strong> and<br />

civic leadership are siloed and do not share<br />

best practices or learnings. And organizati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

that target a single age demographic often do<br />

not have <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> requisite resources <strong>to</strong> begin and<br />

sustain cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al work.<br />

¹⁰<br />

There is vast untapped potential for social<br />

impact if we learn <strong>to</strong> effectively collaborate<br />

across generati<strong>on</strong>s <strong>to</strong> create a better future for<br />

all.


INTRODUCTION 7<br />

But <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>re is still so much we d<strong>on</strong>’t know.<br />

What is gained by collaborating across<br />

age <strong>to</strong> solve community problems<br />

<strong>to</strong>ge<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r?<br />

How do organizati<strong>on</strong>s targeting specific<br />

age demographics benefit from<br />

including o<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r generati<strong>on</strong>s?<br />

How can we foster cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

civic leadership?<br />

To answer <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>se questi<strong>on</strong>s, Generati<strong>on</strong> Citizen,<br />

CoGenerate (formerly Encore.org), and Millennial<br />

Acti<strong>on</strong> Project – three Field <strong>Build</strong>ers in <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> New<br />

Pluralists community with complementary generati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

expertise – came <strong>to</strong>ge<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r <strong>to</strong> c<strong>on</strong>duct a<br />

landscape analysis of civic organizati<strong>on</strong>s <strong>to</strong> document<br />

and learn from <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

civic leadership, collaborati<strong>on</strong> and relati<strong>on</strong>ship-building<br />

practices.<br />

What is <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> New Pluralists Community?<br />

New Pluralists is a funder collaborative focused<br />

<strong>on</strong> supporting <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> growing field of practiti<strong>on</strong>ers,<br />

s<strong>to</strong>rytellers, researchers, and innova<strong>to</strong>rs working<br />

<strong>to</strong> foster a culture of pluralism in America. They<br />

work in deep partnership with a community of<br />

Field <strong>Build</strong>ers who help shape aspirati<strong>on</strong>s and<br />

foster learning, <strong>to</strong>ge<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r.<br />

Our goals for this report are:<br />

1<br />

Collect informati<strong>on</strong> across organizati<strong>on</strong>s <strong>to</strong><br />

identify trends, shared values, and strategies<br />

<strong>to</strong> engage people of all ages in civic life.<br />

2<br />

Provide opportunities for organizati<strong>on</strong>s in<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> civic field <strong>to</strong> break out of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir silos and<br />

promote cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al work.<br />

3<br />

Create a roadmap for <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> New Pluralists<br />

community <strong>to</strong> engage all age groups in civic<br />

life.<br />

4<br />

C<strong>on</strong>tribute <strong>to</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> civic field by helping <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

sec<strong>to</strong>r identify practices <strong>to</strong> engage people<br />

across generati<strong>on</strong>s <strong>to</strong> come <strong>to</strong>ge<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r<br />

<strong>to</strong>ward comm<strong>on</strong> goals.


RESEARCH<br />

8<br />

We c<strong>on</strong>ducted outreach <strong>to</strong> 50 civic organizati<strong>on</strong>s that are working <strong>to</strong> foster a culture of pluralism<br />

<strong>to</strong> collect informati<strong>on</strong> <strong>on</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> generati<strong>on</strong>s <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>y worked with, <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> types of civic opportunities <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>y<br />

offered, and more. From this pool of organizati<strong>on</strong>s, 25 completed <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> survey and 13 were selected<br />

for in-depth interviews, based <strong>on</strong> three criteria:<br />

Status as Field <strong>Build</strong>ers within <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> New Pluralists community<br />

High frequency of activities fostering cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al collaborati<strong>on</strong><br />

Number of civic opportunities offered<br />

These criteria helped us dig deeper <strong>to</strong> understand challenges and successes, best practices and<br />

potential pitfalls.<br />

Who did we survey?<br />

What generati<strong>on</strong>s do <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>y serve?<br />

28%<br />

28%<br />

Research/<br />

Think-Tank<br />

36%<br />

Bridge<br />

<strong>Build</strong>ing<br />

64%<br />

All generati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

Community/<br />

Grassroots<br />

20%<br />

Advocacy<br />

12%<br />

Student/<br />

Youth<br />

FOCUS AREAS<br />

OF ORGANIZATIONS<br />

SURVEYED<br />

Some groups selected<br />

more than <strong>on</strong>e area<br />

20%<br />

Younger Generati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

(Millennials,<br />

and/or Gen Z)<br />

Culture &<br />

Arts<br />

12%<br />

8%<br />

Social/<br />

Recreati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

8%<br />

Faith<br />

Based<br />

Educati<strong>on</strong><br />

4%<br />

16%<br />

Older Generati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

(Gen X,<br />

Boomers/<br />

Silent Gen)


REASEARCH 9<br />

What types of activities for cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al collaborati<strong>on</strong> do<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>se organizati<strong>on</strong>s provide?<br />

52%<br />

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES AND COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE<br />

Some organizati<strong>on</strong>s ei<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r provide targeted learning opportunities or cultivate space for<br />

participants <strong>to</strong> develop specific skills.<br />

Example: An initiative by <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> One America Movement, The Eilu v’Eilu Fellowship for Leading<br />

in Polarized Times, is a cohort-based experience for Jewish clergy of all ages. Members of<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> fellowship learn about <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> neuroscience and social psychology of polarizati<strong>on</strong>. The<br />

fellowship provides skills and methods <strong>to</strong> help clergy navigate divisi<strong>on</strong> in <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir own<br />

communities.<br />

28%<br />

LEADERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES AND DEVELOPMENT<br />

These activities are focused specifically <strong>on</strong> building and practicing leadership skills.<br />

Example: VìTÂM, a cultural organizati<strong>on</strong>, works <strong>to</strong> build <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> foundati<strong>on</strong> of a healthy<br />

and socially engaged Vietnamese community by developing older and younger leaders<br />

within <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> community who are capable of holding space for difficult c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

25%<br />

ADVOCACY WORK<br />

These activities include voter registrati<strong>on</strong>, legislative advocacy, issue-based lobbying,<br />

and campaigns. These are often cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al.<br />

Example: The Civics Center works with students, parents, policy makers, and<br />

volunteers of all ages <strong>to</strong> increase voter registrati<strong>on</strong> and civic engagement am<strong>on</strong>g<br />

high school students.<br />

25%<br />

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND EVENTS<br />

These activities create opportunities for collaborati<strong>on</strong> within neighborhoods or<br />

o<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r communities.<br />

Example: The People’s Supper brings <strong>to</strong>ge<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r people within a local community<br />

<strong>to</strong> share a meal and build trust across lines of racial, religious, generati<strong>on</strong>al, and<br />

political difference.<br />

24%<br />

COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS<br />

These projects bring different generati<strong>on</strong>s <strong>to</strong>ge<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r <strong>to</strong> work <strong>to</strong>wards comm<strong>on</strong><br />

goals.<br />

Example: C<strong>on</strong>vergence tackles problems ranging from ec<strong>on</strong>omic mobility <strong>to</strong><br />

suicide preventi<strong>on</strong> <strong>to</strong> elder care by bringing <strong>to</strong>ge<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r diverse stakeholders <strong>to</strong> build<br />

relati<strong>on</strong>ships over time and identify soluti<strong>on</strong>s.


REASEARCH 10<br />

How often did <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>se activities occur?<br />

Occasi<strong>on</strong>ally: 40%<br />

Regularly: 36%<br />

Rarely: 20%<br />

Never: 4%<br />

FREQUENCY OF<br />

CROSS-GENERATIONAL<br />

ACTIVITES<br />

“The barrier is capacity,<br />

and <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> school district<br />

bureaucracy as it is,<br />

is really hard <strong>to</strong> break<br />

through <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> educati<strong>on</strong><br />

system and <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

polarizati<strong>on</strong> in <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

country.”<br />

An<strong>on</strong>ymous C<strong>on</strong>tribu<strong>to</strong>r 1<br />

“When we're thinking<br />

about stewarding <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

community it's not just<br />

about <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> present but<br />

also about <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> future,<br />

and h<strong>on</strong>oring <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> past<br />

as well, and trying <strong>to</strong><br />

bring back some of<br />

those legacies and ways<br />

that align well with<br />

what we need."<br />

An<strong>on</strong>ymous C<strong>on</strong>tribu<strong>to</strong>r 2


RESEARCH FINDINGS<br />

11<br />

Our research discovered several critical findings for building, sustaining, and supporting<br />

cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al civic leadership, including:<br />

Key values that foster cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al collaborati<strong>on</strong> and<br />

civic leadership:<br />

Through surveys and interviews, we found general agreement <strong>on</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> norms<br />

and values that support cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al collaborati<strong>on</strong> and civic leadership.<br />

By analyzing <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>se resp<strong>on</strong>ses, we identified five key values that can help guide<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> civic field.<br />

We list and expand up<strong>on</strong> each of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> five values <strong>on</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> next page.<br />

Strategies for success:<br />

We learned some cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al strategies that work well for <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> organizati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

that do this work, as well as <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> tactics and practices that support <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> executi<strong>on</strong><br />

of those strategies.<br />

Pages 13 - 22 unpack <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>se strategies for success. All <strong>to</strong>ge<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r, <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>y provide a<br />

roadmap for building a world in which thriving cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al collaborati<strong>on</strong>,<br />

teamwork and leadership are <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> norm.


REASEARCH FINDINGS 12<br />

Key values that foster cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al collaborati<strong>on</strong> and civic<br />

leadership<br />

Rebalancing generati<strong>on</strong>al power dynamics: A number of organizati<strong>on</strong>s menti<strong>on</strong>ed<br />

that youth do not enter civic spaces with <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> same amount of power as <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir older<br />

counterparts. As an example, young people often d<strong>on</strong>’t have access <strong>to</strong> similar levels<br />

of civic leadership opportunities, which can lead <strong>to</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir views being dismissed by<br />

older adults. Acknowledging and addressing generati<strong>on</strong>al power dynamics is necessary<br />

<strong>to</strong> ensure that individuals across generati<strong>on</strong>s can show up as equal<br />

participants.<br />

Rooting work in equity and inclusi<strong>on</strong>: Just as organizati<strong>on</strong>s must support youth,<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>y should also support o<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r marginalized populati<strong>on</strong>s by firmly rooting <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir work<br />

in equity and inclusi<strong>on</strong>. Interviewees frequently menti<strong>on</strong>ed equity and inclusi<strong>on</strong>, as<br />

well as racial and social justice, as organizati<strong>on</strong>al values that are particularly relevant<br />

<strong>to</strong> this work. <strong>Age</strong> is an important line of difference but should not be <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> sole axis<br />

al<strong>on</strong>g which organizati<strong>on</strong>s and participants work.<br />

Respecting and acknowledging every<strong>on</strong>e’s inherent human dignity: Ano<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r value<br />

that supports equitable and inclusive work is <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong>going acknowledgment of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

intrinsic worth of each pers<strong>on</strong> – no matter how young or old. Several organizati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

menti<strong>on</strong>ed that both instituti<strong>on</strong>s and individuals must approach this work with a<br />

deep belief in every<strong>on</strong>e’s inherent human dignity. This value works in tandem with<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> previous two values.<br />

Communicating with h<strong>on</strong>esty and openness: More than half of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> organizati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

we interviewed identified open communicati<strong>on</strong> as a critical norm <strong>to</strong> cultivate and<br />

uphold. Communicati<strong>on</strong> is foundati<strong>on</strong>al <strong>to</strong> both relati<strong>on</strong>ship building and working<br />

<strong>to</strong>wards a shared goal across generati<strong>on</strong>al and o<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r differences.<br />

Celebrating s<strong>to</strong>ries about intergenerati<strong>on</strong>al collaborati<strong>on</strong> and c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong>: Several<br />

of our interviewees menti<strong>on</strong>ed that celebrating s<strong>to</strong>ries of success is important.<br />

Adopting this practice helps people see <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> power of intergenerati<strong>on</strong>al collaborati<strong>on</strong>,<br />

counters harmful generati<strong>on</strong>al stereotypes and helps motivate participants <strong>to</strong><br />

seek opportunities <strong>to</strong> work <strong>to</strong>ge<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r across differences.


REASEARCH FINDINGS 13<br />

Strategies <strong>to</strong> engage groups across all stages of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> civic cycle<br />

Based <strong>on</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> interviews with staff members at 13 civic organizati<strong>on</strong>s, we were able <strong>to</strong><br />

identify three main strategies <strong>to</strong> engage groups across all stages of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> civic life cycle.<br />

Strategy 1: Leverage Partnerships and Coaliti<strong>on</strong>s<br />

Strategy 2. Foster Cross-Generati<strong>on</strong>al Work<br />

Stratgey 3. Invest in Civic Leadership Skill-<strong>Build</strong>ing and Highlight its Benefits<br />

We outline each of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>se strategies <strong>on</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> following pages al<strong>on</strong>g with a list of tactics and best<br />

practices <strong>to</strong> serve as a set of guiding principles <strong>to</strong> address <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> challenges of doing cross-genertati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

work.<br />

The research incorporates four case studies highlighting promising practices <strong>to</strong> prompt<br />

cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al acti<strong>on</strong>.<br />

Case Study 1: C<strong>on</strong>vergence<br />

Case Study 2: SAGE<br />

Case Study 3: Citizen University<br />

Case Study 4: Youth Activism Project


REASEARCH FINDINGS 14<br />

Strategy 1: Leverage Partnerships and Coaliti<strong>on</strong>s<br />

All <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> organizati<strong>on</strong>s interviewed for this study<br />

indicated that <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir work is made possible, and<br />

enhanced, by partnerships. These partnerships<br />

create productive ecosystems where capacity<br />

building, knowledge, social capital, and o<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r<br />

resources are shared, helping organizati<strong>on</strong>s reach<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir goals. Based <strong>on</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> interviews and surveys<br />

we c<strong>on</strong>ducted, a balance between shared goals<br />

and relati<strong>on</strong>ship building is required for forging<br />

str<strong>on</strong>g partnerships and undertaking effective<br />

coaliti<strong>on</strong> building across generati<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

The organizati<strong>on</strong> Comm<strong>on</strong> <strong>Age</strong>ncy describes<br />

this process as creating <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> c<strong>on</strong>diti<strong>on</strong>s for<br />

“healthy relati<strong>on</strong>al soil - ready <strong>to</strong> plant seeds of<br />

acti<strong>on</strong>, which <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>n grow up <strong>to</strong> nourish <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> relati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

soil.” C<strong>on</strong>sider l<strong>on</strong>g-term projects as a case<br />

in point: shared goals feed relati<strong>on</strong>ship building<br />

for l<strong>on</strong>g-term projects, and likewise, str<strong>on</strong>g relati<strong>on</strong>ships<br />

feed str<strong>on</strong>ger commitment <strong>to</strong> shared<br />

goals.<br />

Tactics and Best Practices:<br />

Ground partnerships in rich “relati<strong>on</strong>ship soil.”<br />

Shared goals and str<strong>on</strong>g relati<strong>on</strong>ships create <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

“relati<strong>on</strong>al soil” that makes cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

collaborati<strong>on</strong> possible.<br />

Use partnerships and coaliti<strong>on</strong>s <strong>to</strong> build<br />

capacity.<br />

Successful cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al partnerships and<br />

coaliti<strong>on</strong>s can help extend programmatic offerings<br />

and communicati<strong>on</strong>.<br />

“I see each local community<br />

as a thriving ecosystem. Each<br />

organizati<strong>on</strong> and individual is<br />

a beautiful star, at different<br />

ages and stages. Our<br />

organizati<strong>on</strong> focuses <strong>on</strong><br />

c<strong>on</strong>necting those stars in<strong>to</strong><br />

c<strong>on</strong>stellati<strong>on</strong>s <strong>to</strong> surface<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir collective civic power.”<br />

Leverage cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al collaborati<strong>on</strong> <strong>to</strong><br />

build <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> field.<br />

Partnerships and coaliti<strong>on</strong> building not <strong>on</strong>ly help<br />

build capacity in <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> short term but also help <strong>to</strong><br />

build a pipeline of organizati<strong>on</strong>s invested in this<br />

work for <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> l<strong>on</strong>g haul.<br />

Deborah Tien<br />

Founding Steward<br />

Comm<strong>on</strong> <strong>Age</strong>ncy


REASEARCH FINDINGS 15<br />

Strategy 2: Foster Cross-Generati<strong>on</strong>al Work<br />

During <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> interviews, people at multiple organizati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

For example, students need opportunities <strong>to</strong><br />

All <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

reported<br />

organizati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

that <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

interviewed<br />

siloing of generati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

for this study<br />

– learn bey<strong>on</strong>d textbooks that recount his<strong>to</strong>ry<br />

both<br />

indicated<br />

ideologically<br />

that <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir<br />

and<br />

work<br />

physically<br />

is made<br />

– in<br />

possible,<br />

civic leadership<br />

and<br />

through a single dominant lens or portray diverse<br />

enhanced,<br />

spaces<br />

by<br />

must<br />

partnerships.<br />

be addressed<br />

These<br />

with<br />

partnerships<br />

time, communities as m<strong>on</strong>olithic.<br />

¹¹<br />

These organizati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

intenti<strong>on</strong>ality,<br />

create productive<br />

and vulnerability.<br />

ecosystems<br />

This<br />

where<br />

siloing<br />

capacity<br />

can feel a sense of real urgency <strong>to</strong> involve young<br />

show<br />

building,<br />

up, for<br />

knowledge,<br />

instance, in<br />

social<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> harmful<br />

capital,<br />

assumpti<strong>on</strong>s<br />

and o<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r<br />

people from <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> ground up as co-crea<strong>to</strong>rs in<br />

resources<br />

and negative<br />

are shared,<br />

stereotypes<br />

helping<br />

we<br />

organizati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

have about community organizing, advocacy, and educati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

work <strong>to</strong> ensure civic spaces reflect <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> full<br />

<strong>on</strong>e<br />

reach<br />

ano<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r.<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir<br />

It<br />

goals.<br />

can also<br />

Based<br />

show<br />

<strong>on</strong><br />

up<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

as older<br />

interviews<br />

generati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

and<br />

surveys<br />

de-valuing<br />

we c<strong>on</strong>ducted,<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> c<strong>on</strong>tributi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

a balance<br />

of youth.<br />

between<br />

The diversity of our multicultural, multigenerati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

antidote<br />

shared goals<br />

is <strong>to</strong> create<br />

and relati<strong>on</strong>ship<br />

supportive civic<br />

building<br />

spaces<br />

is<br />

that<br />

required<br />

society.<br />

bridge<br />

for forging<br />

differences,<br />

str<strong>on</strong>g<br />

generate<br />

partnerships<br />

excitement<br />

and undertaking<br />

about<br />

c<strong>on</strong>necting<br />

effective coaliti<strong>on</strong><br />

across<br />

building<br />

generati<strong>on</strong>s,<br />

across<br />

and<br />

generati<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

– given Tactics and Best Practices:<br />

current<br />

The organizati<strong>on</strong><br />

generati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

Comm<strong>on</strong><br />

power dynamics<br />

<strong>Age</strong>ncy<br />

–<br />

describes<br />

intenti<strong>on</strong>ally<br />

this process<br />

incorporate<br />

as creating<br />

youth voices.<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> c<strong>on</strong>diti<strong>on</strong>s<br />

For <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>se organizati<strong>on</strong>s,<br />

for<br />

“healthy<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

relati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

intended<br />

soil<br />

outcome<br />

- ready<br />

is<br />

<strong>to</strong><br />

<strong>to</strong><br />

plant<br />

reduce<br />

seeds<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

of<br />

barriers<br />

acti<strong>on</strong>,<br />

between<br />

which <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>n<br />

generati<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

grow up <strong>to</strong> nourish <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> relati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

soil.” C<strong>on</strong>sider l<strong>on</strong>g-term projects as a case<br />

Organizati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

in point: shared<br />

address<br />

goals<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>se<br />

feed<br />

issues<br />

relati<strong>on</strong>ship<br />

by creating<br />

building<br />

structured,<br />

for l<strong>on</strong>g-term<br />

supportive<br />

projects,<br />

spaces<br />

and<br />

where<br />

likewise,<br />

individuals<br />

str<strong>on</strong>g relati<strong>on</strong>ships<br />

Create intenti<strong>on</strong>al opportunities for crossof<br />

different<br />

feed<br />

generati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

str<strong>on</strong>ger<br />

are<br />

commitment<br />

empowered <strong>to</strong><br />

<strong>to</strong><br />

come<br />

shared<br />

generati<strong>on</strong>al interacti<strong>on</strong>.<br />

<strong>to</strong><br />

goals.<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> table as peers. Cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al activities<br />

are used as a platform <strong>to</strong> spark dialogue and <strong>to</strong><br />

expose participants <strong>to</strong> new perspectives and<br />

ways of being and interacting.<br />

By giving people ample opportunity <strong>to</strong> practice<br />

engaging in rich dialog across differences – even<br />

around polarizing <strong>to</strong>pics – organizati<strong>on</strong>s are able<br />

<strong>to</strong> debunk people’s misc<strong>on</strong>cepti<strong>on</strong>s of <strong>on</strong>e<br />

ano<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r and bring <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>m <strong>to</strong>ge<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r <strong>to</strong> work <strong>to</strong>ward<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> comm<strong>on</strong> good.<br />

Several organizati<strong>on</strong>s also noted important<br />

equalizers in cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

interacti<strong>on</strong>s including:<br />

Inclusive educati<strong>on</strong><br />

Shared knowledge<br />

Valuing of lived experience<br />

These opportunities <strong>to</strong> engage with <strong>on</strong>e ano<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r<br />

can spark au<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ntic relati<strong>on</strong>ships and organic<br />

network building, which in turn can create genuine<br />

excitement for working <strong>to</strong>ge<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r <strong>to</strong>ward a<br />

comm<strong>on</strong> cause.<br />

Establish clear and candid communicati<strong>on</strong><br />

between generati<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

Multigenerati<strong>on</strong>al teams need <strong>to</strong> be especially<br />

cognizant of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> importance of establishing clear,<br />

up-fr<strong>on</strong>t communicati<strong>on</strong> about roles, intent, and<br />

shared decisi<strong>on</strong> making <strong>to</strong> avoid falling in<strong>to</strong><br />

ageist stereotypes that minimize <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> c<strong>on</strong>tributi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

of younger or older generati<strong>on</strong>s.


REASEARCH FINDINGS 16<br />

Train staff <strong>to</strong> moderate cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

spaces.<br />

Without clearly articulated norms and boundaries<br />

for cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al discussi<strong>on</strong>, false assumpti<strong>on</strong>s<br />

and exclusi<strong>on</strong>ary behavior can easily show<br />

up. Providing structure, guidance, and training for<br />

internal staff as modera<strong>to</strong>rs of cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

spaces allows organizati<strong>on</strong>s <strong>to</strong> engage participants<br />

in productive c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s across differences.<br />

“We hear sometimes from<br />

youth that <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>re are some<br />

adults who will treat<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>m like <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>y’re just kids,<br />

and some adults who will<br />

treat <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>m like peers.”<br />

Kayla DeM<strong>on</strong>te<br />

Chief Strategy Officer<br />

Citizen University<br />

Empower youth with a seat at <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> table.<br />

Ensure that young people are both included and<br />

empowered <strong>to</strong> participate as equals in civic<br />

spaces dominated by adults. Proactively elevate<br />

youth voices, perspectives, and assets.<br />

“One of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> biggest<br />

barriers is <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

assumpti<strong>on</strong>s we might<br />

make about <strong>on</strong>e ano<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r.<br />

People might show up<br />

with assumpti<strong>on</strong>s about<br />

how o<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>rs are going <strong>to</strong><br />

show up, like where<br />

people are ideologically.<br />

Finding ways of cutting<br />

through that is an<br />

extremely important part<br />

of our work.”<br />

K Scarry<br />

Partnership Direc<strong>to</strong>r<br />

The People's Supper/The Dinner Party


REASEARCH FINDINGS 17<br />

Foster Cross-Generati<strong>on</strong>al Work<br />

Case Study 1: C<strong>on</strong>vergence<br />

C<strong>on</strong>vergence's missi<strong>on</strong> is <strong>to</strong> c<strong>on</strong>vene individuals and organizati<strong>on</strong>s with different views <strong>to</strong> build trust,<br />

identify soluti<strong>on</strong>s, and form alliances for acti<strong>on</strong> <strong>on</strong> critical nati<strong>on</strong>al issues. ¹² “At C<strong>on</strong>vergence,” notes<br />

CEO David Eisner, “<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> process of learning about each o<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r is used as a <strong>to</strong>ol for innovati<strong>on</strong>.”<br />

The Challenge<br />

According <strong>to</strong> Eisner, dis<strong>to</strong>rted percepti<strong>on</strong>s am<strong>on</strong>g different generati<strong>on</strong>s are <strong>on</strong>e of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

main barriers <strong>to</strong> cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al civic work. “There's a percepti<strong>on</strong> am<strong>on</strong>g older<br />

Americans that younger generati<strong>on</strong>s are entitled – that <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>y insufficiently value what's<br />

come before <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>m and that <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>y expect <strong>to</strong>o much advocacy from <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> systems in<br />

which <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>y operate,” Eisner said. “Then <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>re's a view by younger Americans that older<br />

Americans are basically spending <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir generati<strong>on</strong>’s m<strong>on</strong>ey, that society over-invests<br />

in older Americans, and that older Americans are mired in a status quo that's racist,<br />

misogynist, and generally n<strong>on</strong>-progressive.”<br />

¹³<br />

Soluti<strong>on</strong><br />

C<strong>on</strong>vergence trains leaders from multiple sec<strong>to</strong>rs and different generati<strong>on</strong>s <strong>to</strong><br />

engage in collaborative dialog and c<strong>on</strong>sensus problem solving. Toge<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r, <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>se leaders<br />

work <strong>to</strong> explore a diverse range of public and private soluti<strong>on</strong>s at <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> federal, state,<br />

and local levels.<br />

¹⁴<br />

Tactics and Best Practices<br />

C<strong>on</strong>vergence builds learning communities around pressing social issues. The organizati<strong>on</strong><br />

c<strong>on</strong>venes dialogs focused <strong>on</strong> policy-oriented issues in collaborati<strong>on</strong> with field<br />

experts. ¹⁵ “Almost definiti<strong>on</strong>ally,” Eisner said, “we end up with an older room, and so<br />

we've deliberately brought in<strong>to</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> room younger voices, even though <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>y may not<br />

be as seas<strong>on</strong>ed or as expert in some of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> areas. We find that it still enables <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>se<br />

collaborati<strong>on</strong>s <strong>to</strong> be more effective.”


REASEARCH FINDINGS 18<br />

Foster Cross Generati<strong>on</strong>al Work<br />

Case Study 2: SAGE<br />

SAGE (Senior Advocates for Generati<strong>on</strong>al Equity) is a n<strong>on</strong>profit organizati<strong>on</strong> that inspires people over<br />

50 <strong>to</strong> give <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir time, m<strong>on</strong>ey, and voice <strong>to</strong> help younger and future generati<strong>on</strong>s thrive. ¹⁶ “We define<br />

generati<strong>on</strong>al equity as a principle of fairness,” said Executive Direc<strong>to</strong>r Steve Higgs, “that each generati<strong>on</strong><br />

improves <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> quality of life for those who come after <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>m.”<br />

The Challenge<br />

Higgs said that <strong>on</strong>e of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> challenges <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> organizati<strong>on</strong> faces is <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> difficulty and<br />

time-c<strong>on</strong>suming nature of building collaborati<strong>on</strong> skills and aligning individual goals<br />

<strong>to</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> goals of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> larger group. “Collaborati<strong>on</strong> takes time <strong>to</strong> build trust and understanding<br />

around a comm<strong>on</strong> cause.” While it is valuable <strong>to</strong> focus <strong>on</strong> a specific, organizati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

goal, when you invest time with o<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>rs, it is easier <strong>to</strong> see how your goal<br />

aligns with <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> work of o<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>rs. ¹⁷<br />

Soluti<strong>on</strong><br />

SAGE’s advocacy and bridge-building work is focused <strong>on</strong> educati<strong>on</strong>, envir<strong>on</strong>ment,<br />

and <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> ec<strong>on</strong>omy.<br />

¹⁸<br />

SAGE hosts an annual event where guests are invited <strong>to</strong> discuss<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>se issues and how adults 50 and older can support younger generati<strong>on</strong>s in<br />

addressing <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>m. This c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong> includes <strong>to</strong>pics such as generati<strong>on</strong>al poverty, <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

future of our oceans, living a legacy, and bridging divides. SAGE also hosts a<br />

nine-m<strong>on</strong>th Legacy Fellowship program that helps older adults identify a community<br />

benefit project in collaborati<strong>on</strong> with n<strong>on</strong>profits or governmental agencies. ¹⁹ Past projects<br />

have included building community parks, funding youth scholarships, and<br />

protecting <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> envir<strong>on</strong>ment. ²⁰<br />

Tactics and Best Practices<br />

SAGE is committed <strong>to</strong> inspiring older adults <strong>to</strong> work in community with younger<br />

adults. SAGE has a board of young leaders who are co-crea<strong>to</strong>rs – not just co-facilita<strong>to</strong>rs<br />

– of program activities and events. Engaging youth as co-crea<strong>to</strong>rs requires more<br />

time and letting go of organizati<strong>on</strong>al power dynamics <strong>to</strong> create space for young<br />

people <strong>to</strong> take ownership of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> work. “When we work across generati<strong>on</strong>s, we<br />

also remember <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong>s we have between generati<strong>on</strong>s past, present, and<br />

future,” Higgs said.


REASEARCH FINDINGS 19<br />

Strategy 3: Invest in Civic Leadership Skill-<strong>Build</strong>ing and Highlight Its Benefits<br />

Through <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> interview process, people at multiple<br />

organizati<strong>on</strong>s indicated that civic leadership<br />

skills help <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir participants develop <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> capability<br />

<strong>to</strong> identify problems, build c<strong>on</strong>sensus, and find<br />

soluti<strong>on</strong>s. These organizati<strong>on</strong>s also indicated that<br />

building civic skills requires active modeling:<br />

participants need <strong>to</strong> be able <strong>to</strong> see what healthy<br />

c<strong>on</strong>flict looks like and how individuals from<br />

different perspectives can productively reach<br />

c<strong>on</strong>sensus. This type of modeling is comm<strong>on</strong> in<br />

peer-<strong>to</strong>-peer learning cohorts and communities<br />

of practice, which functi<strong>on</strong> as spaces where<br />

people can c<strong>on</strong>nect, relate <strong>to</strong> <strong>on</strong>e ano<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r, and<br />

feel less al<strong>on</strong>e. These settings help leaders learn<br />

that sitting with discomfort without rushing <strong>to</strong> a<br />

soluti<strong>on</strong> is as important as setting goals and<br />

expectati<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

The settings also give civic leaders time and<br />

space <strong>to</strong> build <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> c<strong>on</strong>fidence needed <strong>to</strong> take<br />

risks, exercise inclusive leadership, and serve as<br />

advocates of systemic change. Cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

work fundamentally requires:<br />

²¹<br />

Preparati<strong>on</strong><br />

Tackling biases<br />

A willingness <strong>to</strong> listen<br />

Citizen University, a n<strong>on</strong>profit led by Eric Liu,<br />

helps participants develop civic leadership skills<br />

by h<strong>on</strong>ing <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir ability <strong>to</strong> create, build, and practice<br />

collaborati<strong>on</strong> within <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> c<strong>on</strong>text of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir<br />

communities. Civic leaders functi<strong>on</strong> not <strong>on</strong>ly as<br />

guideposts for building community, but also as<br />

models for cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al civic leadership.<br />

Tactics and Best Practices:<br />

Support s<strong>to</strong>rytelling.<br />

Provide civic leaders with <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> resources and support<br />

<strong>to</strong> share <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir own pers<strong>on</strong>al s<strong>to</strong>ries. Rooting<br />

larger goals in an individual's life s<strong>to</strong>ries will help<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>m understand <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir own motives for participati<strong>on</strong>,<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> legacies that preceded <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>m, and <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

future <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>y hope <strong>to</strong> inspire.<br />

Invest in pers<strong>on</strong>al development.<br />

The cultivati<strong>on</strong> of civic leadership often begins<br />

with pers<strong>on</strong>al development. Activities that help<br />

build courage, patience, and practical organizing<br />

skills, for instance, can help civic leaders of all<br />

ages develop <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> motivati<strong>on</strong> and staying power<br />

<strong>to</strong> engage in change that happens over time –<br />

even generati<strong>on</strong>al time.


REASEARCH FINDINGS 20<br />

Learn <strong>to</strong> sit with complexity.<br />

Help civic leaders feel comfortable sitting with<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> complexity of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir target issue and relati<strong>on</strong>ships.<br />

Sometimes <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> fastest soluti<strong>on</strong> is not <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

best soluti<strong>on</strong>. Provide space for participants <strong>to</strong><br />

practice flexing <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir “patience muscles.”<br />

<strong>Build</strong> civic faith.<br />

Civic faith helps us believe in <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> value of what<br />

came before us, h<strong>on</strong>oring <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> ideas and leadership<br />

of previous generati<strong>on</strong>s, while also having<br />

faith in <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> potential of generati<strong>on</strong>s <strong>to</strong> come.<br />

“We develop leaders that<br />

are able <strong>to</strong> sit with<br />

tensi<strong>on</strong> and move a<br />

group through moments<br />

of tensi<strong>on</strong> – leaders that<br />

can get <strong>to</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> s<strong>to</strong>ry<br />

behind <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> s<strong>to</strong>ry, make<br />

space for every voice in a<br />

c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>, and invite<br />

people in<strong>to</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>.”<br />

K Scarry<br />

Partnership Direc<strong>to</strong>r<br />

The People's Supper/The Dinner Party<br />

“[At] Bridge USA, we<br />

believe in <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> bridge<br />

mindset, which is based<br />

<strong>on</strong> three values: We have<br />

<strong>to</strong> empathize with<br />

people, we have <strong>to</strong> be<br />

able <strong>to</strong> listen, and we<br />

have <strong>to</strong> be able <strong>to</strong> have<br />

c<strong>on</strong>structive c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong><br />

and dialog.”<br />

Manu Meel<br />

CEO<br />

Bridge USA


REASEARCH FINDINGS 21<br />

Invest in Civic Leadership Skill-<strong>Build</strong>ing and Highlight its Benefits<br />

Case Study 3: Citizen University<br />

Citizen University is a n<strong>on</strong>profit organizati<strong>on</strong> that builds a culture of powerful, resp<strong>on</strong>sible<br />

citizenship across <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> country. ²² “Our work focuses <strong>on</strong> bringing <strong>to</strong>ge<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r civic catalysts and providing<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>m with frameworks, <strong>to</strong>ols, and resources <strong>to</strong> practice powerful citizenship <strong>to</strong>ge<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r,”<br />

noted Kayla DeM<strong>on</strong>te, <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> organizati<strong>on</strong>’s deputy direc<strong>to</strong>r.<br />

The Challenge<br />

Citizen University has identified a shortage of time and financial resources as two<br />

major challenges in <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> civic field. It is a challenge for participants of any age <strong>to</strong><br />

remain committed <strong>to</strong> a civic leadership program when <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>y have <strong>to</strong> prioritize <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir<br />

job, family life, financial security, or educati<strong>on</strong>. “Everybody has <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> best intenti<strong>on</strong>s<br />

but <strong>to</strong> commit <strong>to</strong> a year can be difficult,” DeM<strong>on</strong>te said. “We need <strong>to</strong> make sure<br />

people are resourced and supported.”<br />

²³<br />

Soluti<strong>on</strong><br />

Citizen University focuses <strong>on</strong> res<strong>to</strong>ring civic resp<strong>on</strong>sibility and building civic identity.<br />

One of its signature civic skill-building programs is <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> Youth Collabora<strong>to</strong>ry, a cohort<br />

of approximately 25 high school students selected and funded <strong>to</strong> participate in a<br />

<strong>on</strong>e-year program (including in-pers<strong>on</strong> cohort meetings) <strong>to</strong> learn how power works<br />

in civic life, how <strong>to</strong> build it, and how <strong>to</strong> share it with people within <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir communities.<br />

The centerpiece of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir experience is a “power project” <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>y design <strong>to</strong> address<br />

a pressing issue in <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir community. ²⁴<br />

Tactics and Best Practices<br />

Citizen University’s Youth Collabora<strong>to</strong>ry members practice <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir civic skills al<strong>on</strong>gside<br />

a parallel community of adult civic leaders who are part of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> Nati<strong>on</strong>al Civic<br />

Collabora<strong>to</strong>ry. The adult collabora<strong>to</strong>ry meets three times a year – with <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> youth –<br />

<strong>to</strong> share resources, offer feedback and commit <strong>to</strong> mutual aid. Because of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong> between <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> Youth Collabora<strong>to</strong>ry and Nati<strong>on</strong>al Civic<br />

Collabora<strong>to</strong>ry, youth leaders are able <strong>to</strong> significantly expand <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir network (for<br />

project c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong>s, internships, or job opportunities), c<strong>on</strong>tribute <strong>to</strong> high-impact<br />

nati<strong>on</strong>al c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s, and build lifel<strong>on</strong>g habits of cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al mutual aid.<br />

²⁵


REASEARCH FINDINGS 22<br />

Invest in Civic Leadership Skill-<strong>Build</strong>ing and Highlight its Benefits<br />

Case Study 4: Youth Activism Project<br />

Youth Activism Project teaches teens movement-building skills and <strong>to</strong> impact policy at all levels<br />

of government. ²⁶“We build civic leadership, primarily focusing <strong>on</strong> teens, by teaching <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>m policy,<br />

advocacy, and community organizing skills,” said Organizati<strong>on</strong> Lead Anika Manzoor. “We positi<strong>on</strong><br />

young people <strong>to</strong> be self-advocates and organizers for <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir own community.”<br />

²⁷<br />

The Challenge<br />

Civic organizati<strong>on</strong>s typically express interest in listening <strong>to</strong> and engaging youth voices;<br />

however, young people’s views are not always taken in<strong>to</strong> c<strong>on</strong>siderati<strong>on</strong> during <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> decisi<strong>on</strong><br />

making process. Sometimes young people feel censured for being <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>mselves.<br />

Time and burnout are two additi<strong>on</strong>al challenges that impact <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> ability of young people<br />

– in particular those who are full-time students – <strong>to</strong> fully engage. In additi<strong>on</strong>, a culture<br />

of instant gratificati<strong>on</strong> and quick wins can strain <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> ability of young people <strong>to</strong> manage<br />

expectati<strong>on</strong>s. ²⁸<br />

Soluti<strong>on</strong><br />

Youth Activism Project provides young people with community organizing knowledge<br />

and skills. They are given <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> opportunity <strong>to</strong> work <strong>on</strong> causes <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>y believe in al<strong>on</strong>gside<br />

people from different backgrounds and belief systems, finding soluti<strong>on</strong>s <strong>to</strong> pressing<br />

social issues <strong>to</strong>ge<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r. “[We want our] beneficiaries <strong>to</strong> be able <strong>to</strong> know how <strong>to</strong> self advocate…<br />

and build endurance and c<strong>on</strong>fidence <strong>to</strong> c<strong>on</strong>tinue <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir community work for <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

rest of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir lives.” The organizati<strong>on</strong> offers <strong>on</strong>line community building and training<br />

opportunities <strong>on</strong> s<strong>to</strong>rytelling, campaign development, and lobbying. “[It is <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> resp<strong>on</strong>sibility]<br />

of adults <strong>to</strong> create <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> c<strong>on</strong>diti<strong>on</strong>s where young people feel like <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>y are able <strong>to</strong> be<br />

real,” Manzoor said.<br />

Tactics and Best Practices<br />

Youth Activism Project fr<strong>on</strong>t loads <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> training of young organizers, helping <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>m<br />

deepen <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir movement-building knowledge and teaching <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>m <strong>to</strong> map out <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> essential<br />

comp<strong>on</strong>ents and structure of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir campaigns. Through this process, participants<br />

learn <strong>to</strong> articulate <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> purpose, objectives, and value of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir community efforts. ²⁹


RECOMMENDATIONS<br />

23<br />

The recommendati<strong>on</strong>s, below, distill <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> most relevant, acti<strong>on</strong>able findings of our qualitative<br />

research study.<br />

Cultivate a culture of collaborati<strong>on</strong> across generati<strong>on</strong>s: Organizati<strong>on</strong>s in <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> civic field<br />

can thrive when <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>y intenti<strong>on</strong>ally communicate both <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> impact of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir specific<br />

cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al work, as well as <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> broader societal benefits of collaborati<strong>on</strong> across<br />

age.<br />

Legitimize youth voices: We live in an adult-centric society that <strong>to</strong>o often portrays young<br />

people as not being sufficiently civically engaged. Organizati<strong>on</strong>s in <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> civic field need <strong>to</strong><br />

champi<strong>on</strong> young people – proactively through program design, feedback mechanisms,<br />

and acti<strong>on</strong> – as legitimate ac<strong>to</strong>rs within civil society.<br />

Invest in cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al diversity: Civic organizati<strong>on</strong>s often gravitate <strong>to</strong>wards silos<br />

based <strong>on</strong> political views, but an investment in a cross-generati<strong>on</strong>al approach is a natural<br />

bridge-builder, bringing people <strong>to</strong>ge<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>r across race, income, political perspective, religious<br />

affiliati<strong>on</strong>, and more. This process takes time and, notably, requires significant trust-building<br />

am<strong>on</strong>g leaders.<br />

<strong>Build</strong> organizati<strong>on</strong>al endurance: Sustaining progress over time requires a l<strong>on</strong>g view – and<br />

sustained commitment – bey<strong>on</strong>d what any <strong>on</strong>e generati<strong>on</strong> can do. Creating a better future<br />

for all of us will require solidarity across generati<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

Foster civic agency: It is important for individuals at every stage of <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> civic life cycle <strong>to</strong> feel<br />

that <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>y have <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> power <strong>to</strong> c<strong>on</strong>tribute <strong>to</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir communities. An asset-based lens that takes<br />

in<strong>to</strong> account <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> unique culture, values, skills, and perspectives of old and young alike is<br />

essential <strong>to</strong> building healthy communities and a thriving democracy.


<strong>Build</strong>ing a str<strong>on</strong>g democracy<br />

requires a l<strong>on</strong>g view – and<br />

every<strong>on</strong>e at <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> table.<br />

No <strong>on</strong>e generati<strong>on</strong> can do it al<strong>on</strong>e.


THANK YOU!<br />

Generati<strong>on</strong> Citizen, Millennial Acti<strong>on</strong> Project, and CoGenerate (formerly Encore.org) sincerely thank<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> diverse group of 25 organizati<strong>on</strong>s that participated in <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> survey and joined us for in-depth<br />

interviews in this report by sharing <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ir expertise and knowledge in <str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g> civic field.<br />

• Aspen Institute Citizenship & American Identity Program (Better Arguments Project):<br />

https://betterarguments.org/our-approach/<br />

• Brenna Center for Justice: https://www.brennancenter.org/<br />

• BridgeUSA: https://www.bridgeusa.org/<br />

• Citizen University: https://citizenuniversity.us<br />

• Comm<strong>on</strong> <strong>Age</strong>ncy: https://comm<strong>on</strong>agency.org/<br />

• C<strong>on</strong>vergence: https://c<strong>on</strong>vergencepolicy.org/<br />

• Faith in Acti<strong>on</strong>: https://faithinacti<strong>on</strong>.org/<br />

• GenUnity: https://www.genunity.org/<br />

• Greater Good Science Center: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/<br />

• Making Caring Comm<strong>on</strong>: https://mcc.gse.harvard.edu/<br />

• More in Comm<strong>on</strong>: https://www.moreincomm<strong>on</strong>.com/<br />

• New_Public: https://newpublic.org/<br />

• One America Movement: https://<strong>on</strong>eamericamovement.org/<br />

• O<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ring and Bel<strong>on</strong>ging Institute (UC Berkeley):<br />

https://vcresearch.berkeley.edu/research-unit/o<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>ring-bel<strong>on</strong>ging-institute<br />

• Over Zero: https://www.projec<strong>to</strong>verzero.org/<br />

• Rhizome: https://www.werhize.org/<br />

• SAGE: https://wearesage.org/<br />

• SNF Agora Institute: https://snfagora.jhu.edu/<br />

• The Civics Center: https://<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>civicscenter.org/<br />

• The Dinner Party: https://www.<str<strong>on</strong>g>the</str<strong>on</strong>g>dinnerparty.org/<br />

• The Trinity Forum: https://www.ttf.org/<br />

• Urban Rural Acti<strong>on</strong>: https://www.uracti<strong>on</strong>.org/<br />

• VìTÂM: https://vitam.pers<strong>on</strong>a.co/<br />

• Welcoming America: https://welcomingamerica.org/<br />

• Yea! Impact: https://www.yeaimpact.com/<br />

• Youth Activism Project: https://www.youthactivismproject.org/


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Report designed by: Elizabeth Serrano

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