Key Takeaways

  • Learn more about the standards NCOA's National Institute of Senior Centers developed to help senior centers improve their operations today—and position them for the future.

  • The standards, self-assessment, and material submission are all online, with digital files and an online submission portal.

  • It is free and easy to become a NISC Affiliate.

NCOA’s National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC) offers the nation’s only National Senior Center Standards of Excellence and Accreditation Program. To advance the quality of senior centers nationwide, NISC developed the Standards of Excellence across nine areas of senior center operations and provides a self-assessment process for senior centers to engage stakeholders and that leads to our Peer Reviewed Accreditation. These standards serve as a guide for all senior centers to improve their operations today—and position themselves for the future. 

Steps to Beginning NISC Self-Assessment and Accreditation

1.  Make sure your center has signed up to be a NISC Affiliate. Joining is easy and free!

2.  Learn about the Standards of Excellence and Accreditation by requesting Building Excellence. NISC Affiliates can email us at  membership@ncoa.org, and we will send you a digital copy.

3.  Submit an Intent to Self-Assess form, which is filled out online

4. After completing the form:

  • If you haven’t already asked for it, you will be sent the current Building Excellence manual. With these files you can begin your Self-Assessment.
  • Your center will be invoiced for the accreditation base fee.
  • When the fee is paid, you will receive the link to the online application portal. You’ll use the portal to upload documents gathered and questions answered during your Self-Assessment.

If you aren’t sure if you are ready to start, you can still request the Building Excellence manual from NISC Membership at  membership@ncoa.org. This manual provides a wealth of information to review and strengthen key operations and programs at your center.  

To continue advancing the quality of senior centers as they navigate a historic time in our nation’s history and staying true to the ability for senior centers to remain connected to one another digitally, the NISC Membership Team has moved the NISC Accreditation Operations into a digital learning management and submission portal.  

In the future, NISC will implement training modules, a training webinar, and other events.  

List of Nationally Accredited Centers

More than 200 senior centers have been accredited, and many more are in the process. Use the resources below to learn more about these centers:

Why should your senior center engage in the Standards of Excellence, Self-Assessment and Accreditation?

Improve your organization

The Standards of Excellence and Self-Assessment provide a quality improvement process that strengthens your overall senior center operations. It results in official recognition that tells your community you are meeting your mission in a nationally accepted, professional fashion. 

Connect to the community

During the self-assessment process, you have an opportunity to engage stakeholders including staff, participants, governing bodies, business, and aging services partners, current and potential funders and the community to come together. Together you will look at the senior center and compare it to the standards that have been established by NISC. Together, the center and the community identify strengths and areas that need improvement and develop a strategy. Many centers report that this has led to funding opportunities, new collaborative partners, and an increase in programs or participation. 

Develop a plan for the future

Throughout the process, centers have access to content and the support to get the inspiration and  the information and guidance they need to develop a vision for the future. Through the self-assessment process, centers develop a written strategic plan, with broad community engagement, and develop the skills to measure and communicate their value to their community.  

Enhance your center’s image

The Self-Assessment and Accreditation process creates an opportunity to establish your senior center’s position as the center of expertise in aging in the community. You can use this national recognition strategically to heighten awareness of the importance of your center and showcase your excellence to funders, participants, families, and other key people in your community. Collectively, accreditation raises the bar for all of us. It legitimizes senior centers as professionally managed, relevant, and vital resources for older adults. 

What senior centers are saying ...

The most rewarding benefit of accreditation is the process and an action plan for achieving a bright future.
--Christine Beatty, Madison, Wisconsin
It portrays the senior center in a positive light in terms of being a viable, fundable, and qualified provider of services within the community.
--Dr. A. Eugene Smiley, NISC past-chair
I love being able to say that we are nationally accredited and first in the state. Our organization’s accountability and quality of services was proven.
--Pat Branson, Executive Director, Senior Citizens of Kodiak, Inc.