Northland Foundation KIDS PLUS

AGE to age: bringing the generations together

AGE to age logoAGE to age: bringing the generations together is the newest member of the KIDS PLUS family. Launched in fall 2008, this exciting initiative enables elders, adults, and youth to explore how their generations are both alike and different. The program is designed to strengthen relationships among all ages and offer older adults and young people with opportunities and resources to work together to benefit their communities. Its success has exceeded every expectation, including spurring over 7,500 hours of volunteer service each year among adults ages 55 and older!

AGE to ageAGE to age sites are established in 16 rural communities and Reservations: Aitkin, Bois Forte Reservation, Chisholm, Cloquet, Ely Area, Floodwood, Fond du Lac Reservation, Grand Portage Reservation, Hibbing, International Falls, Itasca Area, McGregor, Moose Lake, Proctor, North Shore Area, and Two Harbors.

Through a guided planning process, older and younger community members identify local needs and devise their own grassroots solutions. Each site forms and implements its own action plan that joins the generations to improve health and wellbeing across the generations, with support from the Northland Foundation and its funding partners. Representatives from all AGE to age sites also meet regularly to share ideas.

Expansion Projects

AGE to age has created infrastructure in rural communities and Reservations that did not exist before. Thanks to strengthened community connections and volunteers who are engaged and eager to getinvolved, new projects can "hit the ground running". Some of the additional projects that have emerged include:

  • AGE to age Reading Pals: Reading Pals has been implemented in the AGE to age sites of Proctor, McGregor, Moose Lake, Two Harbors, and Aitkin. Older adult volunteers regularly read with children each school year, helping them to improve their literacy skills.
  • AGE to age Connect for Health:  Through a multi-year funding partnership with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation, all 13 AGE to age sites are undertaking special projects that promote health and relationship-building. Local efforts include community gardens, healthy cooking classes, active living classes, health fairs, walking/running clubs, community gathering, cultural enrichment, and more.
  • AGE to age College Intern Program:  The AGE to age College Intern Program first piloted in 2012. During the summertime, undergraduate students engage in a community-based work experience in AGE to age sites. This initiative helps college interns enhance their leadership skills, increase their knowledge of intergenerational community-building, and infuse fresh ideas in participating sites.

Learn MoreOutcomes brochure cover

AGE to age is making a positive difference in the lives of children, youth and older adults while enhancing the vitality of rural communities and Indian Reservations. Learn more through resources which share how communities have embraced AGE to age.

Funding Partners

We gratefully acknowledge the partner organizations whose support has contributed to the success of AGE to age. They are Community Experience Partnership – an initiative for U.S. community foundations from The Atlantic Philanthropies; Bush Foundation; Otto Bremer Foundation; Blandin Foundation; The Sheltering Arms Foundation; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation; Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation; and Communities for All Ages.

Honors and Distinctions

Generations United Program of Distinction logoAge to age has earned national accolades for successfully bringing older adults together with youth in rural small towns and reservations. It is the community members themselves who deserve recognition for embracing the opportunity to connect with other generations and enhance their communities.

  • Selected as a 2012 finalist, one of just seven nationwide, for the Eisner Prize for Intergenerational Excellence
  • Designated in 2012 and re-designated in 2015 as a Program of Distinction by Generations United, a national membership organization focused on improving the lives of children, youth, and older adults through intergenerational strategies, programs, and public policies
  • Awarded the 2011 Intergenerational Innovations Award from Generations United, in recognition of AGE to age’s contributions to the intergenerational field