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'Creating Community and Reducing Social Isolation' Grant Recipients Announced

Sixteen community nonprofits will receive $360,000 in total to strengthen social connections and community for Boston’s older adults.

Mayor Michelle Wu and the Age Strong Commission today announced the recipients of its Creating Community and Reducing Social Isolation grant, a new City program designed to provide funding to nonprofit community organizations to create new or expand current programs inviting older adults to engage more for better physical and mental health. The City is awarding $360,000 in funding to 16 nonprofit community organizations. 

“Connecting our older residents with more opportunities to build community is crucial to our City’s recovery,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “It's clear that the ongoing pandemic has only exacerbated the challenges that our older adults face as they try to stay engaged and connected. These investments will help build community for older adults and support our local organizations as they work to expand and build opportunities for our older adults to engage.”

Strong social connections and networks can boost a person’s lifespan by 50 percent, according to an article in Scientific American magazine. Socially-connected communities are more likely to thrive because a virtuous cycle is created when social connections are strengthened: civic engagement and a sense of belonging increases, which further deepens social networks.

“We’re thrilled to have received so many applications,” said Emily K. Shea, Commissioner of Boston’s Age Strong Commission. “Through the pandemic, we had to stop our in-person programs that once got folks out of the house and engaged with each other. Sure, we pivoted to offering programs online, which is something, but nothing like the benefits of in-person human connection–which is valuable to all people, not just older adults.” 

The Creating Community and Reducing Social Isolation grants announced today range in size from $12,000 to $27,000 and will be awarded to the following organizations (alphabetical order):

  • Boston Project Ministries
  • Boston Public Housing Corporation
  • Central Boston Elder Services
  • Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation
  • Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly/Boston
  • Madison Park Development Corporation
  • Maverick Landing Community Services
  • Nigerian-American Multi-Service Association
  • Operation P.E.A.C.E. Northeast
  • Orchard Park Tenants Association/Saida’s Community Garden
  • Somali Development Center
  • The Urban Farming Institute of Boston
  • Tzu Chi Foundation 
  • Urban Edge Housing Corporation
  • Voice of the Tabernacle Multi Service Center
  • Whittier Street Health Center Committee

The grantee cohort includes organizations specializing in aging, community development, housing, the faith community, and immigrant advancement. Proposed programs include Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation’s on-site, in-person wellness series educating residents about health risks and prevention;  the Tzu Chi Foundation’s Home Buddy Project for homebound, Chinese-speaking elders; the Nigerian American Multi-Service Association’s “eating together is healing together” community meal series; and Urban Edge’s digital literacy program teaching older adults to use computers and the internet.

Age Strong convened a diverse group to review the grants from various sectors including the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Advancement, Mayor’s Commission on Disabilities, Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Services, Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, higher education, long-term care providers, and Boston’s older adult residents. In order to evaluate the impact of the grants, Age Strong has partnered with UMass Boston’s Gerontology Institute to facilitate all grantee data collection and program metrics.

About Boston’s Age Strong Commission

For us, strength comes in many forms. Strength of community. Of cultures. Of experiences. Strength to embrace new chapters and opportunities. We believe that Bostonians who are 55+ make our city strong and vibrant. Our mission is to enhance older adults’ lives with meaningful programs, resources, and connections so we can live and age strong in Boston together. For more than 50 years as a Commission, Council on Aging, and Area Agency on Aging, Age Strong provides programs and services to Boston’s older adults, including information and referrals, help with housing, nutrition, health insurance, transportation, volunteering opportunities, events/activities, and more. Age Strong publishes Boston Seniority Magazine, a free monthly publication distributed to over 350 locations.  boston.gov/agestrong

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