Key Takeaways

  • The Modernizing Senior Centers Resource Center will support the continued evolution of senior centers to serve the needs of a growing and more diverse older population.

  • Through focus groups and interviews with senior center staff, the Resource Center will identify the most pressing needs and challenges, what’s required for capacity building, the current state of programming, funding gaps, solutions, and more.

  • Stay up-to-date on the offerings of this new Resource Center by becoming a NISC Affiliate (free in 2022 and beyond) and subscribing to The Voice senior center newsletter.

As long-standing community focal points, senior centers have become one of the most widely used services among America’s older adults. Senior centers deliver vital programs and services and connect older adults to essential community resources to help them stay healthy, socially engaged, and independent. Now at a critical juncture, senior centers nationwide stand to benefit collectively from NCOA’s newly funded Modernizing Senior Centers Resource Center (Resource Center). 

What is the Modernizing Senior Centers Resource Center?

Funded by the U.S. Administration for Community Living, the Modernizing Senior Centers Resource Center will help senior centers address their challenges and amplify their successes as they strive to meet the ever-changing needs of older adults. The overarching goal of the new Resource Center is to ensure that senior centers have the capacity, tools, and resources necessary to develop and implement programs and services that meet the current and future needs of diverse older adults. 

A core strength of senior centers is their ability to adapt to the environments in which they function and respond to the changing needs of their constituents. Yet senior centers are not always recognized as the vibrant places of learning, socialization, and wellness that they are.

Misconceptions about what senior centers offer are at the heart of the reluctance to take part in their programming. Declining attendance can mean that funding sources decline as well, a concern for most senior centers. Better understanding of these and other challenges present real opportunities for senior center modernization to better engage older adults with different interests, needs and expectations.

How will NCOA's Modernizing Senior Centers Resource Center help senior centers raise awareness around their offerings?

The new Resource Center will support the continued engagement efforts of senior centers to serve the needs of a growing and more diverse older population. Modernization and outreach to a changing demographic have been primary themes for senior centers for several years, and many have implemented key programming changes, capital improvements, culturally relevant offerings, partnerships, and expanded outreach to attract more community members.

During the past two years, senior center professionals and their many volunteers have ensured that the critical needs of their members were met. They have stepped up to deliver meals and implement grab-and-go food programs, making wellness check-in calls, and finding creative ways to connect older adults to activities, exercise programs, and one another. Senior centers themselves have also become hubs for COVID-19 education and vaccine information and delivery.

What modernization means will be specific for every organization. With that in mind, one of the first steps for the Resource Center will be hearing from senior center staff from across the country to identify their most pressing needs and challenges, what’s needed for capacity building, the current state of programming, funding, and solutions. Findings from focus groups and interviews that will be conducted in 2022 will help establish priorities for the Resource Center’s activities and help ensure that senior centers are positioned to engage a new cohort of older adults, create new business models, diversifying funding sources, and join community-integrated health networks.

Overseeing this new Resource Center will enable NCOA to greatly expand our current reach and ensure that senior centers of all sizes, demographics, and funding sources can have access to replicable practices that work in their communities.

Learning collaboratives, networking opportunities, and broader communications will help centers participate in and contribute to knowledge sharing, with a view to showcasing a diversity of approaches to address the needs, desires, and expectation of older adults.

The new Resource Center will act as a hub for broadly disseminating timely information, providing guidance on topical issues, and supporting a robust exchange of best practices among the entire senior center network.

Join the National Institute for Senior Centers to stay up-to-date on offerings from the new Resource Center

By becoming a NISC Affiliate you'll stay up to date on the Resource Center's offerings. Free to join, the National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC) supports senior centers with best practices and innovations in programming, as well as networking and training opportunities. 

Ask for help, leverage NISC resources, share an opinion, or get your next big idea from your peers! Not a NISC Affiliate? Join today.