Eisner Foundation Grant Funds Student Stipends, Programs to Advance Intergenerational Connection
As longevity increases in America and globally, society is becoming more diverse in terms of age as well as race, ethnicity, religion, and other important identities. To help meet the challenge of strengthening social ties in a diverse society, The Eisner Foundation has awarded NYU Silver’s Center for Health and Aging Innovation (CHAI) a one-year, $175,000 grant to support its innovative intergenerational programming and provide stipends to NYU Silver students for their efforts to advance intergenerational relations.
According to Associate Professor and CHAI Director Ernest Gonzales, the Eisner Foundation funding ensures that CHAI will not only be able to continue to offer programs such as intergenerational home sharing, discussions on aging and equity, and intergenerational cohesion, but also to launch a Healthy Aging Specialization at NYU Silver in the 2023-24 academic year.
“The new Healthy Aging Specialization will develop a cadre of emerging gerontological social workers committed to ensuring that both young and old people have every opportunity for a healthy, meaningful life,” Dr. Gonzales explained. Through focused courses, field placements, mentorship, and seminars, the nine advanced MSW students in the inaugural cohort will gain a strong foundational understanding of aging and social justice. Importantly, students will deepen their knowledge on policies and programs that impact diverse populations as well as theories, research, policies, and programs that bring younger and older generations together to solve critical issues facing society. They will also each receive a $6,000 stipend, be matched with a seasoned mentor to expand their social network and deepen their knowledge of intergenerational relations, and receive support to develop and present a capstone at the end of the academic year.
Dr. Gonzales added that two PhD students will receive stipends of $4,000 each to support their scholarship fostering ideas for social work education, research, policy, practice and advocacy to bring generations together to combat important issues facing society. One of those recipients, PhD candidate Cliff Whetung, said that the Eisner Foundation stipend will help support his research into cognitive inequities among Indigenous older adults. “What has become clearer and clearer in our testing of the theoretical models we think are driving cognitive health outcomes in later life,” Cliff said, “is that our response is going to require a multi-generational approach.” The stipend, he said, will help fund his data analysis looking at whether Native American and Alaska Native older adults who engaged in intergenerational volunteer activities had better cognitive health outcomes than others.
“The social workers we train today,” said Dr. Gonzales, “will be key to ensuring the proliferation of strong intergenerational programming for the future.”
Beyond funding stipends for the Healthy Aging Specialization, the Eisner Foundation grant will help sustain CHAI’s program manager, Allison Merz, a full-time social worker and NYU Silver alum (class of 2022), who oversees the center’s intergenerational innovation, programming, evaluation, and policy advocacy.