Generations Incorporated was born of the conviction that the separate needs of youth and senior citizens could be addressed by bringing the two groups together. Founded in 1991, Generations Incorporated incorporates the generations to strengthen individuals and communities.
Generations Incorporated programming addresses the unmet educational needs of Boston-area schoolchildren. The fact that one third of all Boston fourth graders failed their Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) reading tests is an indicator of their urgent need. By focusing on literacy at an early age, the benefits can be reaped throughout adulthood. Generations Incorporated addresses other important needs as well, including reducing negative stereotyping by youth of the elderly and disabled, helping youth develop self-confidence, connecting elders to the younger generation and contributing to their sense of dignity and purpose by sharing allowing them to share their life stories and experiences with youth.
Generations Incorporated is helping to change the way Americans view its oldest and youngest members. As the percentage of Americans over the age of 65 steadily rises, Generations Incorporated feels that too much focus has been on how this will effect the economy. Generations Incorporated is working to shift this focus toward the positive social implications, demonstrating that youth and seniors have much to gain by working with one another.
Seniors are often an untapped resource, with enormous potential for helping others. Through Generations Incorporated’s Leaps in Literacy and After School Programs, senior volunteers serve as one-on-one reading coaches for elementary schoolchildren. In its Generation Clubs programs, middle-school students are paired with elderly partners in senior facilities to develop mutually beneficial relationships. The programs run for the duration of the school year, varying in intensity from the Generation Clubs once a week to the one-on-one Leaps in Literacy sessions four days a week.
Thousands of Boston-area youth and seniors have benefited directly from Generations Incorporated’s programming. Students participating in the Leaps in Literacy program raised their reading skills an average of 2.92 reading levels in just one year. Eighty-five percent of participating youth said, “because of the Generation Club, I don’t judge people as much for being different.” Also, nursing home staffs report that Generations Incorporated improves the quality of life for residents.
Generations Incorporated serves more than 1,000 youth and seniors each year, in partnerships with more than 50 organizations. Over 100 senior volunteers have been mobilized this year to improve the skills of young people each week. The organization continues to expand its volunteer base to meet unmet needs. Generations Incorporated was chosen as the winner for the 1997 Massachusetts Youth Service Alliance Community Service Award and was selected from over 110 nationwide applications to be one of the first nine America Reads programs to utilize senior citizens as reading tutors.