Key Takeaways

  • Every year, NISC's annual Programs of Excellence Awards honor and promote the outstanding programs offered by senior centers across the country.

  • First-place and honorable mentions are given in each category, and the programs are featured in webinars throughout the year.

  • The 2021 winners inspired older adults to learn about history and technology, stay physically active, make healthy eating choices, honor their life achievements, and stay connected with each other even during a pandemic. 

Every year through its National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC), NCOA honors outstanding efforts made by senior centers across the nation to offer innovative, creative, and impactful programs for older adults. Each program is proof of the important work that happens at senior centers. And these programs serve as models for senior center staff across the country to implement in their communities. All 2021 award winners continued to support older adults during a second pandemic year and provided much-needed services during difficult times.

"We are thrilled to recognize the work fo this year's Programs of Excellence Winners," said Dianne Stone, NCOA's associate director of network development and engagement. 

These programs have inspired older adults to learn about history and technology, stay physically active, make healthy eating choices, honor their life achievements, and stay connected with each other even during a pandemic."

Announcing the 2021 Programs of Excellence Awards winners!

We are pleased to annoucned the 14 programs selected among all entries across seven categories as winners and honorable mentions!

  • The year’s general categories: Marketing/Public Relations, Cultural Programs, Health and Wellness, Nutrition, Technology, and Hybrid Programming
  • The year’s highlighted category: Addressing Social Isolation

Marketing/Public Relations

  • Winner: 12 Days of Christmas—Norwell Council of Aging, Norwell, Massachusetts
  • Honorable mention: Caring Club—Calabasas Senior Center, Calabasas, California

Cultural Programs

  • Winner: Honoring Legacies—Groton Senior Center, Groton, Connecticut
  • Honorable mention: Historical Perspectives—Parkville Senior Center, Baltimore County, Maryland

Health and Wellness

  • Winner: Elder Day—Seven Oaks Senior Center, Nottingham, Maryland
  • Honorable mention: Peapods—Duxbury Senior Center, Duxbury, Massachusetts


  • Winner: Nutritional Distribution Outreach—The Cheshire Senior Center, Cheshire, Connecticut
  • Honorable mention: Grocery Deliverty—Eden Prairie Senior Center, Eden Prairie, Minnesota


  • Winner: Technology Makers Space—Woodbury Senior Center, Woodbury, Connecticut
  • Honorable mention: Tech Talks—Ateaze Senior Center, Baltimore, Maryland

Hybrid Programming

  • Winner: Wellness Workshop Without Walls—Whitney Senior Center, St. Cloud, Minnesota
  • Honorable mention: Senior Center Without Walls—Sowega Council on Aging, Albany, Georgia

Reducing Isolation

  • Winner: CheckMates: AgeWell at the JCC—Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh
  • Honorable mention: Rooted in Resilience—Overlea Fullerton Senior Center, Baltimore County, Maryland

Learn more about the 2021 winners

2020 Winners

Community Development

  • Winner: Senior Activity Center Parade: Developing and Expanding Community Relations—Southlake Senior Activity Center, Southlake, Texas
  • Honorable mention: Community First Meal Program, Groton Senior Center, Groton, Connecticut

Cultural Programs

  • Winner: Festival of the Arts—City of Calabasas Senior Center, Calabasas, California
  • Honorable mention: An Afternoon with Mr. Branch Morgan III: Entertainment Today, but Survival of Yesterday. A Cultural Look from the Past—Essex Senior Center, Baltimore, Maryland

Health and Wellness

  • Winner: Bridges Health Winona—Winona Friendship Center, Winona, Minnesota
  • Honorable mention: Journaling with Julie—Bykota Senior Center, Towson, Maryland


  • Winner: Natick Community Organic Farm and Senior Center—Natick Community Senior Center, Natick, Massachusetts
  • Honorable mention: The Mini Lunch Program—Milford Senior Center, Milford, Connecticut

Special Events

  • Winner: From Parking Lot to Party Lot! Enriching the Well-Being of Older Adults—Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, Santa Clarita, California
  • Honorable mention: You’ve Been Flocked—Pikesville Senior Center, Pikesville, Maryland


  • Winner: PACTV Guide, Duxbury Senior Center | Plymouth Center for Active Living | Kingston Center on Aging | Pembroke Center on Aging | PACTV, Duxbury, Massachusetts
  • Honorable mention: Connect with T.E.C.H. (Technology Education and Community Help)—Forsyth County Senior Services, Cumming, Georgia


  • Winner: At Home Grab and Go Events—Dracut Senior Center, Dracut, Massachusetts
  • Honorable mention: The Art of Healthy Aging—Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia, Norfolk, Virginia

2019 Winners

Community Development, Leadership, and Intergenerational 

  • Winner: Minds in Motion—The Center at Medfield, Medfield, Massachusetts
  • Honorable mention: Community Supper—Cohasset Elder Affairs, Cohasset, Massachusetts


  • Winner: Music and Memory at Kavod Senior Life—Kavod Senior Life, Denver
  • Honorable mention: Seasoned Imaginations—Town and Country Senior Center, Tampa, Florida


  • Winner: Baker’s Battle—Groton Senior Center, Groton, Connecticut
  • Honorable mention: See Them Shine—Edina Senior Center, Edina, Minnesota

Health and Wellness 

  • Winner: UPSLIDE (Utilizing and Promoting Social Engagement in Loneliness, Isolation, and Depression in the Elderly)—Tallahassee, Florida
  • Honorable mention: The Joslyn Wellness Center—The Joslyn Center, Palm Desert, California


  • Winner: R.I.S.E. & Shine Breakfast Program—Center in the Park, Philadelphia
  • Honorable mention: From Garden 2 Senior’s Table—Department of Aging Services, Tampa, Florida

Special Events

  • Winner: Intergenerational Back to School Block Party—Fleming Senior Center, Dundalk, Maryland
  • Honorable mention: Ageless Style: An Intergenerational Recyclable Fashion Show—Brandon Senior Center, Brandon, Florida


  • Winner: Yoga with Yoni on Facebook Live—Kinship Care Resources Center, Jonesboro, Georgia
  • Honorable mention: An Interview with Dick Cavett—Mather Lifeways, Evanston, Illinois

The Arts

  • Winner: Woodbury Ukulele Band—Woodbury Senior Center, Woodbury, Connecticut
  • Winner: Masters in Aging—Winona Friendship Center, Winona, Minnesota

Questions about the awards or the selection process? Please email