The Best of Both Worlds: A Closer Look at Creating Spaces that Connect Young and Old

This report from Generations United and The Eisner Foundation digs deeper into many of the challenges shared sites face to shed more light on possible factors that may be inhibiting or not encouraging their creation.

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Intergenerational shared sites make common sense, in terms of reducing social isolation, creating livable communities and positively impacting participants’ lives. People of all ages have built-in opportunities to create meaningful relationships, find motivation, improve skills, and feel the joy of connection. In addition, shared sites create cost-efficiencies of sharing space, resources, personnel, rent and more. Shared sites have been documented and studied for decades, yet, they still have not proliferated across the United States. Why aren’t there more of them? Why aren’t shared sites in every community?

“The Best of Both Worlds” provides several insights into the mystery.

To shed more light on possible factors that may be inhibiting or not encouraging the creation of more shared sites in the United States, we wanted to dig deeper into the challenges. We interviewed staff and/or board members of intergenerational shared sites, real estate development organizations and national policy and program experts. Our in-depth interviews identified four key phases in the development and operation of shared sites where pivotal factors, challenges, and strategies can be critical. This report explores these phases and shares lessons learned from intergenerational shared sites around the country.

We also put forth recommendations that would boost the number of intergenerational shared sites around the country. They include:

  • Spread the Word: We must embark on a coordinated effort to raise awareness of share sites.
  • Provide the Support: We have to educate funders on the benefits of shared sites and encourage creative funding for these initiatives.
  • Refine the Rules: We need to make regulations more friendly to shared sites.
  • Measure the Merits: We must coordinate a national effort to collect data on the impact of shared sites.
  • Build the Field: We should provide shared site staff with ongoing opportunities to connect with each other and exchange ideas and access to training and technical assistance to improve their programs.