Harnessing the skills and experience of older Americans to create a better future for future generations
This year marks the first time that there are more people in America over age 60 than under age 18. California’s own aging population is set to grow 87 percent in the next two decades, and many fear the consequences.
But Eunice Lin Nichols isn’t daunted. With her colleagues at Encore.org — a San Francisco-based nonprofit tapping the talents of people over 50 as a force for good — Nichols is working to help organizations and governments leverage this experienced population as an asset to young people and our state.
Nichols leads Encore.org’s Generation to Generation campaign to engage 1 million adults over 50 in the lives of young people — building bridges across differences of age, race, and income; improving life for older and younger generations; and creating a better future for all.
“I grew up in an intergenerational household. My grandparents lived with us for many years, and they were my after-school program,” Nichols said.
She knows from personal experience — and 20 years of working in the field — that older adults have time, wisdom, and a lifetime of skills and experiences to offer younger generations.
“There’s an entire generation of young people in desperate need of connection, support, care, and love,” Nichols said, “and nobody is better suited, more prepared, or more available to be extended family to them than older adults.”
Gen2Gen, which now includes more than 215 partner organizations nationwide, is making headlines in California. For example, thanks to a successful pilot with Gen2Gen, FIRST 5 Santa Clara County is expanding its use of older volunteers from six family resource centers to all 27. Soon, 200 older volunteers there will help 650 young children thrive.
When there are strong bonds across the generations, it’s good for everyone. It creates understanding and empathy, community and support for those who are most vulnerable.
Eunice Lin Nichols
And with help from Gen2Gen, Reading Partners Los Angeles increased its corps of older volunteers to 400 this year and saw some of the best literacy results to date.
“When there are strong bonds across the generations,” Nichols said, “it’s good for everyone. It creates understanding and empathy – something needed more than ever in today’s divisive climate. It creates a sense of community and a web of support for those who are most vulnerable.”
Video by Talking Eyes Media
In October 2020, Eunice launched Encore.org’s new Gen2Gen Innovation Fellowship. The first 15 innovators, ranging in age from 19 to 75, are bringing generations together to fight social isolation, even the playing field for youth, create stronger cities and more affordable housing, and strengthen the multigenerational workforce.
The written profile and video reflect the work of the leader(s) the year they received a Leadership Award. Please contact the leader(s) for current information.