Below is a list of resources with information on civic engagement
in an older America. This list has six sections, each that features
a different type of resource:
(1) Federal legislation
(2) Other initiatives related to civic engagement
(3) Research and agency reports
(5) News media
(6) Scholarly publications
Congress Supports Older Adults Civic Engagement in
Reauthorization of the OAA
On October 17, 2006, President Bush signed into law the five-year
reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA). The new law includes
several areas of expansion, including provisions for recognizing
and supporting older adults community contributions.
Text for the Older Americans Act Amendments of 2006 (H.R. 6197).
containing excerpts related to the new civic engagement provisions.
to the Older Americans Act Amendments of 2006 (2007)
MAJOR CIVIC ENGAGEMENT INITIATIVES
The National Academy on an Aging Society is not alone in focusing
attention on older adult civic engagement. (Click
here for information about the Academy's "Civic Engagement
in an Older America" Initiative.) Listed below are descriptions
of other organizations' civic engagement initiatives, as well as
links to their websites. (Click
here for a list and description of other projects relating to
older adults' civic engagement that are funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies).
Initiatives that focus on civic engagement among
older adults specifically:
Society on Aging's Civic Engagement Program: The
American Society on Aging is an organization that brings together
a multidisciplinary network of professionals, including practitioners,
teachers, administrators, policymakers, business people, researchers,
students, and more. The Society's Civic Engagement Program strives
to advance discussion of civic engagement within the field of
aging and to foster best practices for professionals that relate
to older adults as a social and economic asset for the benefit
* Civic Ventures:
Civic Ventures is a non-profit think tank with the purpose of
helping society to draw on individuals’ accumulated life
experience to enhance individual and societal well-being. Civic
Ventures oversees several programs directly related to older adults'
civic engagement, including Experience Corps (a national volunteer
organization that places adults ages 55 and older in community
schools and youth-focused organizations) and the Purpose Prize
(a sizeable monetary award to recognize individuals ages 60 and
older who are working toward addressing critical social problems).
School of Public HealthMetLife Foundation's Initiative on
Retirement and Civic Engagement: Harvard University's
Center for Health Communications and the MetLife Foundation are
organizing leading individuals and organizations in a "national
campaign to change public attitudes toward aging and to encourage
baby boomers and retirees to engage in community service."
* The National
Council on Aging's RespectAbility Project: The National
Council on Aging connects thousands of organizations and individuals
"dedicated to improving the health and independence of older
persons and increasing their continuing contributions to communities,
society, and future generations." The organization's RespectAbility
project aims to raise awareness about older adults as an untapped
civic resource and to help non-profit organizations utilize older
adults in addressing major community problems.
to Teachers: A Model Pathway to a Second Tour of Duty: Troops
to Teachers helps those with at least ten years of military service
transition to careers in public school teaching and administration.
Since 1994, the program has trained and placed 9,500 veterans
in the classrooms where they are needed most.
* The Urban
Institute's Retirement Project: The Urban Institute
is a nonpartisan economic and social policy research organization.
The organization's Retirement Project focuses on assessing how
retirement policies, demographic conditions, and private sector
practices influence older Americans. The project includes several
briefs on civic engagement among older adults.
Initiatives that focus on civic engagement among
individuals of all ages:
Center for Social Development (George
Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in
St. Louis): The Center for Social Development is
a leading academic center dedicated to promoting the assets of
individuals, families, and communities. One cluster of research
activities at the Center focuses on civic service across the lifespan.
The Brookings Institution's Research on Service, Civic Engagement
and Citizenship: The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit
organization that fosters independent research and makes recommendations
for decision-makers worldwide. The Institution has pooled together
research material, legislation, surveys, reports, and public discourse
on volunteer service initiatives, civic engagement, and civil
Sector Knowledge Base Project: This multi-year initiative
that began in 1997 aims to build a body of high quality data and
knowledge about the voluntary sector, its organizations, and social
contributions of Canadians. Its activities include a review of
existing data resources, studies to identify the giving of volunteers
and charitable donors, launching new surveys and case studies,
and strengthening conceptual frameworks to advance understanding
of the voluntary domain.
* Pew Partnership
for Civic Change: This organization focuses broadly
on supporting communities, governments, foundations, and nonprofit
agencies to develop and implement strategies to make communities
* The Saguaro
Seminar: This initiative, led by Professor Robert
Putnam at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government,
seeks to advance understanding of trust and community engagement
with the goal of developing strategies and efforts to increase
Reports that focus on civic engagement among
older adults specifically:
Ageing in Active Communities: Volunteering and the Transition
to Retirement (2005): The United Kingdom's
Joseph Rowntree Foundation presents results from a study on how
to support older adults’ volunteer activities. The study
is based on case studies of several organizations that involve
older adults, in-depth interviews with older adult volunteers,
and interviews with leaders in the field of older adult volunteering.
You Experienced? How Boomers Can Help Our Government Meet Its
Talent Needs (2007): As millions of baby boomers begin
to retire, our federal government, the nations largest employer,
will be especially hard hit. One solution is to look toward other
retiring boomers to fill these positions-- a win-win situation
for older Americans, who would find meaningful opportunities to
use their talents and experience, and for the federal government,
which would gain highly skilled talent to help solve our nations
most pressing problems.
Boomers and the New Age of Volunteerism (2001): The
Corporation for National Service presents insights from focus
groups in developing an organizational infrastructure to recruit
upcoming senior volunteers from the baby boom generation.
Boomers and Volunteering: An Analysis of the Current Population
Survey (2005): The Corporation for National
and Community Service and the USA Freedom Corps present results
from analyses of 2002 - 2004 Current Population Survey data to
estimate rates of community service among baby boomers.
Boomers Envision Their Retirement II: Survey of Baby Boomers'
Expectations for Retirement (2004): AARP conducted
this national survey of adults ages 38 to 57 in 2003. Findings
emphasize how knowledge about and attitudes toward retirement
have changed among baby boomers over the past five years.
and National Service: Learning from the Success of Youth Service:
(The Commission on) National and Community Service, a grassroots
youth service movement, originally included proposals for an older
adult service, which were later dropped. This unfinished business
calls to be revisited, as millions of public-minded older Americans
stand at the brink of retirement, ready to engage in tackling
our nations most difficult social challenges.
Are Ready for Nonprofits, But Are Nonprofits Ready for Them?
(2007): Evidence suggests that non-profits are seriously
lagging behind the government and private sectors in efforts to
both retain highly skilled potential retirees and actively recruit
older hires from other industry sectors. The report describes
some best practices underway in the nonprofit sector, as well
as an overview of private and public sector responses.
Capturing the Baby Boomer Volunteers (2001): Team Consultants,
an organization in Australia, conducted focus groups and interviews
with organizations that use volunteers, as well as a diverse sample
of adults, to understand Australian baby boomers’ motivations
to volunteer in later life and to develop a strategy to foster
baby boomers’ volunteering.
Awards (2007): The BreakThrough Awards, sponsored
by think tank Civic Ventures, shine a spotlight on the nonprofit
and public sector organizations that are providing meaningful
public interest jobs for people over 50. This report includes
profiles of the 10 winners of the 2007 BreakThrough Awards.
Engagement: America's Civic Health Index (2006): This
report by the National Conference on Citizenshipa nonprofit
organization chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1946uses
several sources of U.S. national data (such as the Census Current
Population Survey and the General Social Survey) to track Americans'
civic health from 1975 to 2005, including rates of participation
in civic and religious groups, feelings of trust in other people,
giving and volunteering, and participating in politics.
E-Newsletter "Volunteer Management Review" (ongoing):
A series of articles addresses the challenges and opportunities
of focusing volunteer opportunities toward older adults.
* Civic Engagement in an Older America: Focus Groups
Report (2005): The Gerontological Society of America
conducted focus groups with older adults in three age cohorts:
leading-edge boomers (50-59 year-olds), 60-69 year-olds, and adults
ages 70 and older. The report focuses on participants' definitions
of civic engagement, their views on the purpose of later life,
their current civic engagement activities, and barriers to becoming
civically engaged. The report also discusses the policy and practice
implications of these findings.
Older Volunteers in After-School Programs (2002):
Civic Ventures presents this report on the potential value of
older adults as volunteers in after-school programs, focusing
on volunteers' motivations, highlighting research on the benefits
of older volunteers' participation for various parties, and offering
suggestions for recruiting, training, and supporting older volunteers.
the Boundaries of Corporate Volunteerism: Retirees as a Valuable
Resource (2005): Volunteers of America and the Center
of Corporate Citizenship at Boston College present results regarding
employers’ and employees’ attitudes toward employee
volunteer programs directed toward retirees and older workers.
Findings are based on interviews with corporate managers, as well
as focus groups and surveys of employees and retirees.
Future of Retirement: the New Old Age (2007): This report
by HSBC examines how increasing health levels and new family structures
change the way that older people can make a contribution to society
in terms of paid work, voluntary work and family care.
Baby Boomers Volunteering (2007): The Corporation for
National and Community Service reports that Baby Boomers today
have the highest volunteer rate of any age group and volunteer
at higher rates than did past generations of the same age category.
Using data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor
Statistics, the study concluded that the type of volunteer work
Baby Boomers do has a big impact on whether they continue to volunteer
over time. Retention from the first year of volunteering to the
second year is highest when they're involved in professional or
Giving Years: Engaging the Time, Talent, and Experience of Older
Californians in Intergenerational Service (2001):
GoServ, an agency under the Governor's Office on Service and Volunteerism
in California, presents results from surveys, focus groups, and
forums with older adult volunteers and representatives from senior
services programs, schools, and other organizations. The report
includes recommendations for state provisions that could foster
older adults' service to community.
Volunteer Opportunities to Baby Boomers (2001): The
Center on Aging at the University of Maryland released this report
on insights gathered from participants in the Corporation for
National Service Senior Corps Cluster conferences held throughout
the U.S. in 2001. The report outlines ideas for marketing volunteer
opportunities to baby boomers as a framework to help community
organizations with their own planning.
Service and Employment of Older Adults (2004): The
AdvantAge Initiative presents results from telephone surveys and
focus groups with a diverse group of older adults in Orange Country,
California, to identify barriers and opportunities regarding volunteerism
and paid work. Themes from interviews with volunteer, employment,
and longterm care providers are also presented.
New Face of Retirement: An Ongoing Survey of American Attitudes
on Retirement (2002, 1999): Civic Ventures
conducted cross-sectional national surveys in 1999 and 2002 to
examine the attitudes of adults ages 50 to 75 toward continuing
to contribute to society in their retirement.
Face of Work Survey (2005): The Metlife Foundation
and Civic Ventures Princeton Survey Research Associates International
conducted this survey of 1,000 U.S. adults in their 50s and 60s,
asking them about what type of work they hope to do in the future
and what they seek to accomplish through this work.
Federal Report Shows Volunteering Strong in America, But 1 in
3 Volunteers Dropped Out in 2006 (2007): While volunteering
remains at historically high levels compared to past decades,
the volunteer rate declined between 2005 and 2006. The report
includes a new Civic Life Index, which uses 12 indicators to gauge
state levels of community and civic engagement over time.
Adults' Engagement Should Be Recognized (2005): Using
data from the 2002 Health and Retirement Study, researchers at
the Urban Institute profile the percent of adults ages 55 and
older involved in productive activities (paid work, formal volunteering,
informal volunteering, family caregiving).
Behavior and Values Across the Generations (2004):
AARP reports findings from a 2004 survey of three cohorts of U.S.
adults: baby boomers (ages 40 to 57), the “silent”
generation (ages 58 to 69), and the “GI” generation
(ages 70+). The survey emphasizes attitudes toward social, ethical,
and economic issues, political participation, beliefs about the
role and priorities of government, and activism and civic involvement.
Aging: Baby Boomers and Civic Engagement (2004):
This report from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Metlife
Foundation focuses on key ways that the government, nonprofit
organizations, business, philanthropy, faith-based institutions,
and the media can encourage retirees to volunteer.
Retirement: New Perspectives on Aging and Civic Engagement
(2002): Civic Ventures conducted focus groups with a diverse group
of retirees in San Diego, Chicago, and Danbury, Connecticut. The
study focused on how participants are experiencing retirement
and what role language, concepts, and programs can play in attracting
retired adults to public service.
Web Survey: Executive Summary (2005): This report
presents results from a web-based survey of executive directors,
program directors, and volunteer coordinators of 20 U.S. national
nonprofit organizations regarding the extent to which older adult
volunteers and workers are part of their operations.
of Giving: An In-Depth Study of Older Adults' Volunteer Experiences
in Urban Elementary Schools (2006): Public/Private
Ventures, a nonprofit U.S. national research and policy organization,
presents results from in-depth interviews with Experience Corps
members--a national service program that facilitates older adults’
volunteering with school-aged children. Results highlight older
adults’ motivations to serve, challenges and rewards of
service, and perceived support for their volunteer work.
and Engagement in Retirement (2005): Using data from
the 2002 Health and Retirement Study, researchers from the Urban
Institute examine the extent to which different profiles of productive
activity are associated with levels of retirement satisfaction.
Volunteers: Solutions Waiting to Happen (2003): The
Executive Director of the leading volunteer agency in the United
Kingdom explores many facets of older adults’ volunteering,
from what type of activities they are most likely to be interested
in to efforts across government to support older adults’
* Sixty and More: Staying Involved
and Making a Difference (2007): From the Princeton Area
Community Foundation, the aim of this report was to develop a
knowledge base about organizations, programs, services, and strategies
for actively engaging adults 60 and older in the community of
Mercer County, NJ.
Strength of the Infrastructure of Volunteer Agencies and Its Capacity
to Absorb Baby Boomer Volunteers (2003): The Points
of Light Foundation and the Volunteer Center National Network
summarize data on rates of formal and informal volunteering in
the U.S., including rates among men and women and among baby boomers.
This report also provides a comprehensive discussion of why engaging
baby boomers as volunteers is important, as well as models for
successfully doing so.
Tale of Two Older Americas: Community Opportunities and Challenges
(2004): The AdvantAge Initiative presents results from its national
survey of adults ages 65+. Authors emphasize the consistently
lower levels of well-being and civic engagement among the "frail
few"--adults with an income 200% below the poverty line,
with less than a high school education, and/or who rate their
health as fair or poor.
and Money: An In-Depth Look at 45+ Volunteers and Donors
(2003): AARP conducted this 2003 national survey of U.S. adults
ages 45+ to estimate how much adults contribute through community
service and charitable giving, as well as through what they do
independently and in their communities for relatives and other
people. The report presents how these behaviors differ by racial/ethnic
Community Investment: Building a Successful Retiree Volunteer
Program (2001): This report from Volunteer Benevoles
Canada and Manulife Financial highlights how companies can jumpstart
volunteer programs for retirees, from identifying the goals of
the program to partnering with other community organizations.
Connections: New Strategies for Involving Older Adults
(2001): Volunteer Canada presents this report summarizing ideas
about how to effectively engage baby boomers in later life volunteering,
while highlighting the volunteer management implications of these
Produces Health Benefits (2007): According to a report
from the Corporation for National and Community Service, older
Americans who volunteer receive significant physical and mental
health benefits for their charitable efforts, including added
years to their lives. This study compiles compelling findings
from more than 30 scientific studies that examine the relationship
between health and volunteering.
Volunteering: Working for Stronger Communities (2004):
The Points of Light Foundation's report presents a case for the
importance of older adults' social contributions and highlights
innovative programs, models, and strategies for sustaining older
adults' volunteer activities.
Reports that focus on civic engagement across
diverse age groups:
25, Canadians & the Common Good: Building a Civic Nation through
Civic Engagement (2007): This major policy
report from the non-profit think tank Canada 25 proposes ideas
to help foster a more assertive and socially connected Canada
through civic engagement. The report takes into account feelings
of detachment felt by Canadian citizens toward their country and
brainstorms ideas for Canada to develop a stronger presence in
the world. Proposals include: investing in common areas for community
building and socialization, enhancing political engagement through
creating informed voters, aiding nonprofits, and celebrating Canadian
citizens and residents through coming-of-age ceremonies.
at the Center: A New Approach to Civic Engagement
(2007): In this report, Dr. Cynthia Gibson addresses
modern American's sentiments of helplessness in their ability
to partake in societal change (in this report commissioned by
the Case Foundation). Gibson's theory of a "citizen centered"
approach for civic engagement encourages the identification and
solving of problems that matter to the individual, and backs away
from traditional servicesuch as voting and volunteeringthat
does little to satisfy the drive to "make a difference."
The report gives ideas on how to booster citizen-centered approaches
to civic engagement, including: institutions offering volunteer
opportunities, reaching out to younger generations, and using
technology to connect volunteers and opportunities.
Charitable Impulse (2005): This report presents findings
from a study by the Public Agenda for the Kettering Foundation.
The organization held six in-depth focus groups with civically
engaged adults (i.e., individuals who voted in the last election,
contributed at least $300 to charitable organizations in the past
year, volunteered at least once in the past year, and who were
a member of a civic group). Focus group questions covered a range
of subjects about charitable organizations and perceptions of
the environment in which they currently work. The organization
also interviewed 15 philanthropic leaders on their perspectives
on the public's attitude toward their work, their own views of
the independent sector, as well as strategies to improve accountability
and transparency across the independent sector.
at Risk: Renewing the Political Science of Citizenship
(2004): This document is the major report of the Political Science
Association’s Standing Committee on Civic Education and
Engagement. The work explores how institutions and public polices
influence patterns of civic engagement.
Volunteering: A Discussion Paper (2002): Volunteer
Benevoles Canada provides an overview of family volunteering as
an innovative type of volunteering in which entire families participate
in volunteer activities together.
a More Active Citizenry: Philanthropy’s Role in a Civic
Reawakening (2005): This report presents specific
recommendations to PACE—Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement—to
help inspire civic renewal in the U.S.
a Business Case for Employer-Supported Volunteerism
(2004): This report from Volunteer Benevoles Canada, the Canada
Volunteerism Initiative, and the Government of Canada provides
an overview of employer-supported volunteering—an arrangement
in which a company voluntarily supports its employees’ involvement
in the community.
Volunteering (2007): A thought-provoking report from the
Points of Light Foundation finds that a behavioral, as opposed
to a perceptual, approach of gathering statistics on volunteering
may be more accurate than current U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
methods. Michael Hall of Imagine Canada uses two data retrieving
methods that classify more people as "volunteers" and
logs more hours of volunteering among those civically involved:
the behavioral approach, which prompts people's memories in civic
engagement involvement, and clearly defines "volunteering"
-- actions spent freely and without pay -- to survey and questionnaire
respondents. Also recommended in the study is the use of standardized
methodology and taking precautions to avoid bias which may overestimate
the population of volunteers.
Nation of Spectators: How Civic Disengagement Weakens America
and What We Can Do About It (1998): The National
Commission on Civic Renewal outlines its goals related to enhancing
the quality of citizenship and civic life.
Nonprofit Sector’s Leadership Deficit (2006):
The Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit organization that supports the
efforts of other nonprofit organizations, presents research highlighting
the need for more senior leadership among nonprofit organizations.
The group’s research also highlights essays from several
perspectives on how to address this problem.
Volunteer Engagement: International Year of Volunteers, 2001
(2001): This report from Volunteer Benevoles Canada and the Government
of Canada provides an overview of the importance of contemporary
volunteering and discusses innovations in volunteer programs at
both national and local levels.
Communities: Civic Change in Your Community and Beyond
(on-going): The Pew Partnership presents its Smart Communities
blog. A new entry is added to this community bulletin daily that
features information on an innovative community development initiative.
of Unpaid Activities by Older Americans Tops $160 Billion per
Year (2005): Using data from the 2002 Health and
Retirement Study, researchers at the Urban Institute estimate
the value of unpaid activities (formal volunteer activities, informal
volunteering. and caring for family members) by Americans age
55 and older.
Volunteering: Current Status and Future Prospects
(2002): Volunteer Benevoles Canada and the Canadian Centre for
Philanthropy present results from their study on managers, volunteers,
and prospective volunteers’ virtual volunteering—a
type of volunteering in which the volunteer is not physically
present at the organization’s host site.
Management Capacity in America's Charities and Congregations
(2004): The Urban Institute co-conducted a survey of U.S. charities
and congregations regarding the use of volunteers in their operations.
and Development (2003): The United Nations Development
Programme discusses the social and economic benefits of volunteerism,
in part by highlighting the volunteer efforts of individuals and
organizations across the world.
ON CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND AGING
* Civic Engagement in an Older America (2010;
Editors: Greg O'Neill and Sarah F. Wilson)
The Gerontological Society of America (GSA)'s civic engagement
project, funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies, has released a
capstone publication that highlights and advances research on
civic engagement in later life by bringing together "classic"
articles previously published in GSA's journals with new articles
that review the state-of-the-science to date for a particular
area of civic engagement, identify research gaps, and provide
direction for future research. The introductory chapter, "The
Civic Enterprise: Advancing Civic Engagement Opportunities in
Later Life", is available for free. Find out how to purchase
the book or request
a desk copy.
* Encore (2007; Author: Marc Freedman)
Baby boomers are inventing a new stage of work. As their numbers
swell, these individuals are transforming work itself and
creating a society that works better for everyone. Marc Freedman
tells the stories of encore career pioneers who are opting to
work, not retire, but to work in new ways, on new terms and to
new ends. See http://www.encore.org
* Civic Engagement and the Baby Boomer Generation
(2006; Editors: Laura Wilson and Sharon Simson)
Contributing scholars with diverse areas of expertise—from
policy analysis to epidemiology to program evaluation to social
gerontology—weigh in on why engaging baby boomers in civic
life is crucial for the well-being of individuals of all ages,
as well as for the well-being of society overall. The book provides
comprehensive descriptions of major national programs that facilitate
older adults’ civic engagement, while also providing evidence
of the programs’ effectiveness and ways in which they can
* Prime Time: How Baby Boomers Will Revolutionize
Retirement and Transform America (1999; Author:
This book marks one of the first, yet still widely read and cited,
formal calls for mobilizing older adults' community contributions.
Substantively, the book covers a range of topics related to older
adults' civic engagement-- from the history of retirement as an
institution to the development (or lack thereof) of federal support
for senior volunteer programs. Sprinkled throughout are poignant
vignettes of social entrepreneurship in later life and in-depth
examples of innovative programs that facilitate older adults'
service, which make this book as informative as it is readable.
The American Society on Aging and Civic Ventures each host web
pages listing recent news media sources (e.g., newspaper articles,
magazine feature sections, segments of radio newscasts) related
to older adults' civic engagement . Refer to the links below:
* American Society on Aging: http://www.asaging.org/civiceng/inthenews.cfm
* Civic Ventures: http://www.civicventures.org/in_the_news.cfm
Below are links to descriptions of scholarly articles on civic
engagement and aging. These articles were published between January
1999 and July 2006 and can be found in The Gerontologist, The
Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, or The
Journals of Gerontology: Social Sciences.
Service and Volunteering
Know of a resource on civic engagement and aging
that should be added to this website? Please let the National Academy
on an Aging Society know about it (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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